The Little Book of Thunks: 260 Questions to Make Your Brain Go Ouch! By Ian Gilbert

Philosophy is what’s left when science has answered all the other questions.

Following the success of `Little Owl`s Book of Thinking` Ian Gilbert now introduces `The Little Book of Thunks`.

A Thunk is a beguiling question about everyday things that stops you in your tracks and helps you start to look at the world in a whole new light. The Thunks in this book cover most areas of human existence including truth, justice, reality, beliefs, the natural world, the human condition, art, beauty, existence, right and wrong, good and bad, life and death, war, religion, love, friendship and whether Marmite tastes nice. Examples include: If I borrow a million pounds am I a millionaire? Could a fly cause an aeroplane to crash? Are you man-made or natural? Do dogs believe in God? When you comb your hair is it art?

The book contains a comprehensive introduction by Ian who guides you through the origins and uses of Thunks and how best to use them. Not only are they a fun way to develop thinking skills but they also hit all the right buttons in the National Primary Strategy `Creative Thinking` strand where children are encouraged to: generate imaginative ideas to stimuli; look at and think about things differently and from other points of view; and ask why, how, what if, or unusual questions. A great resource for teachers to use in the classroom – and remember there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. How liberating is that…?



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.

Through his many books including the ever-popular Thunks collection, his ongoing classroom work with children and young people, his keynotes and workshops at conferences around the world and his continuous work with teachers and leaders in schools, Ian has shown a whole generation of educators that there is always another way. 

Following a chance meeting in the staff room, Ian was encouraged to set up Independent Thinking in 1994 and, since then, has built up a unique educational organisation that acts as a platform for some of the UK’s leading innovative educators and school leaders as well as serving as a ‘lighthouse’ for so many practitioners who might otherwise fall prey to the idea that silence is respect, obedience is behaviour, grades measure education and teaching and learning are the same thing.

What’s more, he is increasingly helping educators across the globe understand the challenges and opportunities thrown up in the 21st century as we look at the future of education (rosy but different) and the future of schools (not at all rosy unless they become different). His book, Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google?, sums up the challenge nicely and was ahead of its time when it was first published in 2010.

In a nutshell, unless you are adding value to my learning with your teaching, then I’ll stay at home with my laptop until you do.

Now, let’s unpick the many, many ways great teachers add that value…

Ian is inordinately proud of what Independent Thinking has becomes over the last 25 years and incredibly humbled to be in such great company. Still leading from the front, he sets the bar when it comes to speaking to teachers, children and school leaders about his vision for education and unless someone is complaining their brain hurts, he knows he hasn’t got the message across yet.

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