In the news - Jonathan Hancock

13th November 2009 at 00:00

Who is he?

Jonathan Hancock is a primary school teacher at St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Portslade, Brighton, who went into teaching after 15 years working on his memory. He is a two-time Guinness World Record-holder, a former World Memory Champion and is also the of the Junior Memory Championships.

What was that again?

Don't be silly.

So what are his records for?

"When I was 16, my friend and I had a bet to win a Guinness World Record," he says. "I discovered that there was one awarded for memorising a shuffled pack of cards. I went for it and won the record for memorising six shuffled packs of cards in order - that's 312 cards. I then did it in the quickest time."

And the Championships?

Held in conjunction with the Learning Skills Foundation, the Junior Memory Championships is an education initiative promoting memory strategies in primary schools.

"It's exciting and creative," he says. "We encourage teachers and pupils to study the art of memory. All schools who sign up will get information, training and lesson plans. There is an online competition in March where the top 20 junior performers meet in a final heat."

Why did he become a teacher?

"I have written several books on memory, half of which are on children. I was running workshops in schools and so decided to teach. I love the astonishing look on children's faces when they have remembered something they learnt in a completely efficient and accurate way."

What ways are these?

"The techniques I use have been around for centuries. They are all based on thinking and pictures, bringing in colours and textures. For example, number five - you can think of the physical number as a hook, like Captain Hook. Then for the round bit you can think of a beach ball. The kids remember because they go from one link in the chain to the next.

"It's also useful because I can help them remember their PE kit. If, for example, their PE kits are in the hallway, I tell them to imagine thousands of PE shirts in a pile in their hallway. That way, they remember."

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