To know God and to make Him known.

National Memory Master

What’s a Memory Master?

Above: Jackson Ford, 2017 National Memory Master. Click here to read his story.

The canon of memoria, or the art of memory, originates from the five canons of rhetoric. It is a fundamentally human activity because it provides a basis of information from which we may ask “why?” and begin to reason. Young students memorize easily through intensity, duration, and repetition.

The art of memoria is distinct from rote memorization. Memorizing a set of facts for a test or music for a recital is not the same as developing skills to retain information long-term. For instance, knowing multiplication tables through the 15s allows a budding algebra student to focus on equation solving without the distraction of having to think very much about simple math. Knowing a timeline of historical facts from both Western and Eastern civilizations equips a high school art student to better understand philosophical and political influences of the artists.

Parents and tutors support students aged 4–12 in the Foundations program as they learn facts from history, geography, English grammar, Latin, math and science, plus portions of the Bible. They use memorization resources such as the popular audio CD and timeline cards. (For a more detailed description of the Foundations program and associated memory work, please see our Foundations program page.)

Above: 2017 Capstone Cruise

Directors in licensed communities bestow the title "Memory Master" on students who successfully recite ALL of the memory facts from the current year's memory work. Children who earn the title “Memory Master” are recognized by their community at the end of year ceremony and receive gifts such as a Memory Master t-shirt, certificates, or candy.

In 2016, Leigh Bortins, founder of Classical Conversations, created the annual National Memory Master competition. Students from across the United States compete to be a finalist on our Capstone Cruise. All finalist earn paid airfare and a spot on the cruise for themselves and a parent. In addition, they compete to earn the title of National Memory Master and a $10,000 grand prize.



How does the competition work?

Above: Jackson Ford, 2017 National Memory Master video submission.
Below: National Memory Master Competition 2017

Directors first test students in local licensed communities early in the second half of the year. Then, memory master candidates submit presentations online to the National Memory Master review board at Classical Conversations. Sixteen finalists and one parent each are then awarded tickets to sail on the Capstone Cruise, where an all-day bee-style competition is held. The grand prize winner is announced that same day.

For detailed information and a timeline of events, you are welcome to view the Rules Book governing entry submission.

How should our family plan to enter?

Because memory master begins with the local licensed community, stay tuned to announcements from your local director about the details of National Memory Master for 2018. We will be working to continuously make this competition better for our families!

Important Dates for 2018

How can I help with National Memory Master?

Encourage your student and the other students in your community to perfect their memory work! We believe a solid foundation of memory work provides important groundwork for discussion and understanding that will occur during the Challenge program. Challenge students often refer to the historical events, math drills, and other Foundations work that is seminal to their mastery of important eras, philosophies, and higher math and science.

15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

—1 Timothy 4:15–16