Sarah Warren

Map Maker #1: Antique Maps

Blog Post created by Sarah Warren on Apr 22, 2020

"This had to be both exhilarating and frightening. They mapped as they marched. They penned as they progressed. They were training as they were traveling. They had nothing else to leverage. It would have been useless to continue using old maps in this new territory." - Marching Off the Map, p. 20


Elmore does a great job painting the scene for us to imagine what Alexander the Great's men must have felt like as they drew maps of the foreign lands they marched into. Much like our explorers from Monday's Cartographer's Notebook #1: Beginning With the End in Mind, these soldiers were examining each new landmark they experienced and reflecting on the land as they passed through. No one had given them a guide to follow, so the rules were their own to make. I think I personally would prefer this - the alternative is being handed an antiquated map and told to follow it blindly. Someone may have passed through the territory a hundred years ago, but the trees are bigger now and the stream running through the mountain has dried up. If these explorers were to rely solely on the old map, they would probably become frustrated when it doesn't match what they are seeing in front of them. They would have to scribble notes on the edges, cross things out and try to redraw them on the fly. At some point they may just pull out a new piece of parchment, copy the trails that still exist from the old map while adding new twists, turns, hills and valleys of their own. Yes, I think I would prefer to walk into the unknown territory with nothing but a pen and paper. With no expectations or previous examples to guide you, the space is yours to interpret and create, just as you see it. How freeing does that feel? That's the very definition of adventure. The potential for creativity is endless. Are you ready to create your new map?


Maybe this whole "map making" journey has got you really freaked out. Understandably! That's why the maps of old would include dragons in the far corners, signifying what was yet to be explored. The unknown can be terrifying! However, Elmore is very direct in assuring us that fear of the unknown cannot stop us from moving forward. 


"There are no guarantees of success. But, I can certainly guarantee failure if you remain a settler." - Tim Elmore




1. As you begin to create your new map, identify a list of "pioneers" and "settlers" around you (see p. 22 for more information on how to determine who these people may be). These could be colleagues or leaders in your school/area, friends/family members, other ag teachers you know, etc. Instead of dwelling on any settlers who could be holding back progress, reach out to the pioneers on your list. Let them know that you are reading this book, and ask them to be on your expedition team! Everyone could use a little encouragement via text, email, or phone call right now, and I'm sure they would love to know that you admire their pioneering spirit. You do not need to share your full list, however please identify at least ONE pioneer and share how you reached out to them. 

(Example: I think my coworker is doing a really excellent job of finding creative new ways to connect their students to online learning resources, so I wrote my coworker a thank you note to acknowledge their hard work and mailed it to them)


2. On a piece of paper, list out some of the antiquated practices you see in your classroom, school, and/or organization. This will represent your "old map." We all need a starting point to reference as we progress! Be honest with yourself and the school/organization. Acknowledging that there are areas that need to change is the first step in developing a plan to change them. They don't necessarily have to be "wrong" practices, they are just areas that you believe need to be updated. Put this paper somewhere you will see it often throughout this book club. 
Pick one of these to share with the group. If you have any ideas or experience with something someone shares, be sure to give them any advice or resources to help them!


Finally, if you're interested and need some entertainment, here is the series of DirecTV commercials referenced on p. 23. Let's choose not to settle for antique maps! See you next week when we will dissect Chapter 3. 
The Settlers - DirecTV Commercials