What’s Your GQ? (Geography Quotient, That Is)

By January 9, 2009 culture, language 5 Comments

My MMM commitment for January is to memorize John 15:18–25 (to complement October’s MMM work on John 15:1–17) and to learn the U.S. states, capitals, and map.

Yes, you read that second challenge correctly: I want to learn the U.S. geography that most people attain in grade school.

Because I missed it.

I have a solid reason for my ignorance: We had just begun that unit when my family moved from Pennsylvania to Illinois, and my new class here was just finishing it. Now, that doesn’t explain how I never grasped geography of any sort . . . perhaps I’ve thrown up a mental block due to the trauma of that move during the geography unit? (Or more likely, I stuffed all I learned into short-term memory for tests, then promptly dumped it.)

You’d think that growing up in a Navy family and moving about would improve my geography knowledge. Sadly, no.

The good thing is that what I lack in geography knowledge, I make up for in directional instinct! It’s like I have an embedded homing device that tracks the turns taken and the landmarks passed by. I may have trouble getting to a spot, but once there, I can backtrack with ease! (That homing device, however, only works when I’m the one driving . . . and it helps when I see the route on paper. Also, it’s a necessity to turn the map the direction I’m headed—none of that N/S/E/W stuff! I’m a right/left gal.)

However, I would like to enter the land of the geography elite; those who know the states and aren’t reduced to hives in a game of Pictionary.

So I’m teaching my old brain some new things. And to kick off my training, I took a little quiz. Here are my stats:

Quiz 1: list the capital for each state—I got 18 correct out of 20 guesses
Quiz 2: list the state for each capital—I got 39 correct out of 40 guesses
Quiz 3: identify the states on a map—I got 35 correct out of 38 guesses

That makes my GQ* 61 percent, calculated by averaging my three quiz scores.

*What’s your Geography Quotient? Submit your stats! (Just don’t mock me.)

This was actually much better than I had expected to do! I now feel much more confidant that I can accomplish this MMM goal.

To do so, I plan to review the map and lists weekly, and then retake the quizzes so that I can mark my progress at MMM headquarters. Also, my sister is letting me borrow her kids’ states and capitals flash cards. (And her kids could probably coach me a bit.) I found a states and capitals song, but I’m not sure I need to take it that far.

Do you have any tricks for remembering states, capitals, or locations? I’d love to hear them. I need all the help I can get!

So watch out, world! Once I’ve got the states lodged in the brain, who knows what’s next. I just might learn the oceans.

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