Book review: Dark and Magical Places – The Neuroscience of How We Navigate By Christopher Kemp

Dark and Magical Places

 – The Neuroscience of How We Navigate, by Christopher Kemp


Dark and Magical Places book

If you are at all interested in the teaching of navigation, I recommend this book. It was published in 2021 and is the most up to date on the subject. It builds on Michael Bond’s book “Wayfinding” and touches on some of David Barrie’s book “Incredible Journeys” a fascinating read about animal (including human) feats of navigation.
The first part of the book takes us through how the brain works which may seem a bit technical but as his journey through the subject progresses it becomes more practical and relatable. He talks about his own sense of direction challenges and Developmental Topographical Disorientation (DTD) condition. We are all somewhere on a spatial awareness spectrum.
He covers some of the latest information coming out of the Sea Hero Quest research App (which is now closed to the general public now but some folk may have done). It was a piece of British research in support of Alzheimer’s research UK and is the world’s largest study on human spatial navigation capabilities. Some of the map memory walk activity discussed in the AGM webinars over the last week has links to an exercises in Sea Hero Quest. Like each of the books mentioned above, it looks at the negative impact habitual GPS use appears to be having on the development of our spatial awareness.

As always, I am thinking about what the implications might be for teaching navigation and there are a few in there particularly around the “who” our clients might be and how their background might influence their learning. It also provides some anecdotes to keep the clients entertained and thoughtful.

Nigel Williams

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