What is the Junior Memory Championship™ ?
Working with schools to promote memory skills for children
Jonathan Hancock is a primary school teacher with a difference. As he prepares his class of 10 and 11 year-olds for their SATs in May, he is also training them in the powerful learning techniques that made him the World Memory Champion.
Now in it's 5th year Jonathan Hancock launched The Junior Memory Championship™ - a national event to challenge the memory skills of children everywhere.
Jonathan's children come from a wide range of backgrounds, but they are all now obsessed with memory. They're passionate about showing off their memory skills, and can learn and recall impressive amounts of information. 'But the really important thing,' Jonathan says, 'is that they're developing practical learning skills that they can put to use immediately in their education. This isn't a gimmick, this isn't a quick-fix: this is learning at its most powerful, boosting creativity and confidence, and it can be put to use in every subject in the curriculum.'
Jonathan trained his own memory when he was still at school, achieved A grades in all his exams and a First from Oxford University. After appearing in the Guinness Book of Records twice and becoming the first Student Memory Champion, in 1994 he was crowned World Memory Champion and a Grandmaster of Memory. Since then he has published eight books about memory and learning, developed a career as a broadcaster and trainer, and in 2007 he decided to 'put his money where his mouth was' and train to be a primary school teacher.
He says: 'I'd seen what an incredible difference learning techniques could make to children of all ages in school. I wanted to get in there, to put all my ideas into practice. What I'm finding is truly remarkable. Children who have never been shown how to learn are transformed by some simple memory skills. Their confidence surges, their view of themselves as learners changes radically, and suddenly they can engage with learning in a new and powerful way. They're now telling me how to use the techniques in lessons, and they're actually looking forward to their SATs.' 'And after that, they have another exciting challenge: their teacher's own national learning test!'
The Junior Memory Championship is open to Year 6 (10 and 11- year old) children from all around the UK. Through a range of learning materials, lesson plans and online training, schools are equipped to support their children and teachers to develop powerful memory skills and embed them in the curriculum. The initial stages of the Championship are conducted online, leading to a grand final at a venue in London.
Jonathan says: 'We're running this through and with schools because memory skills are vital to a successful education. Schools need to see how much their pupils can benefit from being shown not just what to learn, but how to learn it. It's essential for test and exam success, but also for creating flexibly-minded, creative and confident learners. Being a teacher myself ensures that every element of this project is keyed into the real learning needs of children, and the practicalities of teaching in a crowded curriculum. I want to help other teachers enrich their work and sprinkle a bit of 'memory magic' into everything they do'. It's about understanding information, exploring it creatively, and learning it in imaginative, efficient and exciting ways. We hear a lot these days about the goal of 'personal learning'. I see memory skills as central to this, helping children to develop techniques that match their personal learning styles - getting them into thinking habits that will make them confident and effective learners for a lifetime'.
Schools are being invited to register now for the Junior Memory Championship.
Junior Memory Championship Software
Software that will transform the way children’s memories work is under development.
Jonathan Hancock, Founder of The Junior Memory Championship, has proved his own memory abilities by breaking World Records, writing a range of books and by gaining the title of World Memory Champion.
Now, as he prepares thousands of primary children for his own national memory challenge, he is also developing software to help them experience his powerful learning techniques at first hand.
Jonathan says: ‘I’ve spent years training children to develop their memory skills, and I’ve seen what happens when they start using their imagination. They learn to create vivid mental landscapes full of memorable imagery, giving them access to all the information they need to know. Suddenly learning is creative and fun. I’ve watched these strategies deliver remarkable improvements in motivation, confidence and educational success. And now I’m preparing software that will take the training process one step further’.
Developed in partnership with The Learning Skills Foundation, Jonathan’s unique system will allow children to tap into their imagination, organise their thinking and start creating images and connections to help them store any kind of information.
He explains: ‘The software lets you see what good learning looks like. It helps you create highly personalised systems for remembering, shows you how to file away all the information you need, and it also tests and strengthens your skills. This isn’t just brain training by repetition and practice. This is a tool that helps children re-shape their thinking and start learning in new and exciting ways'. As well as the unique training tools, the software contains games and challenges that are designed to captivate primary-age children.
'I want them to love using this software,’ Jonathan explains, ‘to enjoy challenging themselves and their friends. But all the time they’ll be learning skills that will have an immediate impact on their learning'. I’ve seen what a difference memory strategies can make for a wide range of learners. I’m convinced that the software we’re developing will help even more children understand what creative, vibrant, effective learning is like - and what it can do for them’.