Independent Thinking On Loss by Ian Gilbert

Written from the personal experience of a parent and his three children, Independent Thinking on Loss: A little book about bereavement for schools details the ways in which schools can help their pupils come to terms with the death of a parent.

A child loses a parent every twenty-two minutes in the UK. Childhood bereavement brings with it a whole series of challenges for the children involved challenges they will deal with all their lives. The research shows teachers want to help, but don’t know what to do.

This book is a start.

Written by Independent Thinking founder Ian Gilbert together with his three children, Independent Thinking on Loss is a personal account of the way educational institutions tried and succeeded, tried and failed and sometimes didn’t try at all to help William, Olivia and Phoebe come to terms with the death of their mother.

Several months after their mother’s death, BBC’s Newsround aired a brave and still controversial programme in which four children talked about their losses. This prompted Ian and his children to sit down and think about their own experiences and draw up a fifteen-strong list of dos and don’ts that could help steer schools towards a better understanding of what is needed from them at such a difficult time.

The warmth of reception of this handout led the family to expand their advice and suggestions into what has now become Independent Thinking on Loss, the proceeds of which will go to Winston’s Wish, one of the UK’s leading children’s bereavement charities.

Ian, William, Olivia and Phoebe encourage educators to view death and bereavement as something that can be acknowledged and talked about in school, and offer clear guidelines that will make a difference as to how a school can support a bereaved child in their midst. They also explore how conversations and actions little ones, whole-school ones, genuine ones, professional ones, personal ones in the school setting can make an awful scenario just that little bit easier for children to deal with.

Suitable for anyone working with children and young people in an educational setting.

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“The overriding purpose of education must be to throw children out of the cave we can never escape from. No, you work it out.”

Since founding Independent Thinking in 1994, Ian has built a global reputation as an educational thinker, innovator, entrepreneur, speaker and award-winning editor and writer. He was listed by the IB magazine as one of their top 15 ‘educational visionaries’. 

Never happier than when he is making children’s brains hurt, he has a unique first-hand perspective on the world of education having lived and worked in schools and universities in the UK, the Middle East, South America and Asia.

He is now sharing his time between Rotterdam, where his wife is an international school principal, and their home in the middle of nowhere deep in West Wales.

He wasn’t always interested in exotic foreign travel and meeting interesting people from different countries, as he started off his educational career teaching French in Northampton. He didn’t really want to be a French teacher and, while you would think not wanting to teach French to people who didn’t want to learn it might be a match made in heaven, it was only ever really a stepping stone. His main ambition was to work with young people in the areas that most fascinated him then and in which he has become such an important figure today – thinking, learning, motivation, creativity and helping all members of the school community be the best they can be.

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