Image: Trey Ratcliff
We've all seen those GPS-fed navigation devices to help us get around in our cars. There's a good chance that if you don't have one in your car, you know at least one other person who does.
Let's face it: they can be devilishly useful. I can recall using one each time I had to drive in Seoul, Korea. Living at the other end of the peninsula in a much smaller city, on the rare occasions I had to drive up to and around in such a sprawling and convoluted megametropolis, I have to admit that the driving navigator was a godsend.
But I've met people who have become so dependent on their navigator that they admit they're not willing to drive anywhere without it, even if it is just a couple of kilometres from their homes.
That to me is a pretty poignant example of a very useful tool becoming a bane to our own pragmatic competence.
The situation with teaching is rather similar.
Heading into very new and unknown teaching/learning situations can benefit from some sort of navigation device (by which I mean a potential range of things: coursebook content, a very carefully structured curriculum, immaculate lesson planning, following the directions of a teaching colleague, etc.), for those of us who find the unknown just that little bit too daunting or happen to be under certain kinds of time or performance pressure.
But if you're unwilling to leave the staffroom without said 'device', even to teach a very familiar group of learners, then I think it is time to reconsider just how much help you're getting from it.
You'll never learn to see past the tip of your teaching nose if you allow yourself to become progressively blind with dependence on things that do all of your thinking for you.
Getting lost from time to time is all part of the precious process of developing an innate sense of direction.
So go on, you... If it doesn't appear to be life/career threatening:
See what you find.