Maps from Memory

In the spring of the eighth grade year, after the Shakespeare play has wrapped and secondary school decisions have been made, St. Bernard’s boys begin on one last undertaking – drawing a map from memory.

Each student commits to memory a map of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.  The area of study stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caspian Sea.  The boys must memorize mountain ranges, oceans, seas, and rivers.  They learn all of the capitals and which countries border which.  After a few weeks of practice, they are ready for the test.  They are given a large blank map with only lines of longitude and latitude.  Grades are based on accuracy.  A small portion of the grade is tied to aesthetics.  
Storing this much geography in one’s head is quite the undertaking and the exercise is something the boys should be proud of.