Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘Ian Gilbert’

THUNKS…for Teachers (this time)!

In Adult Learners, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning on 27/07/2013 at 8:26 am

Teacher THUNKS 01


A short while back I did a couple of posts on “THUNKS”:

…and highlighted the great little book from Ian Gilbert  –  The Little Book of THUNKS – 260 questions to make your brain go ouch!


A lot of you seemed to like this notion of THUNKingas any TEACHer worth her salt should. One of my friends also suggested that I read the follow-up book that Ian also did… – there was another?


As it happened, I had actually bought that one , too – The Book of Thunks – but as I was moving house (I have done this soooooo many times over the last 17-18 years). The book remained packed…and it was not until I moved to big, bad İstanbul last month (and to a new house…again) that I re-discovered it.


As was the case with the first, it was chokablock with some great thunkssome of them about LEARNing:

Teacher THUNKS 03 (three from Ian Gilbert)


The problem was…as I worked my way through the thunks, very few of them were directly linked to TEACHers. This is probably because Ian had set up this book as a set of dinner-party conversation starters – designed to annoy the bloody hell out of unwanted guests, no doubt.

So…I decided to adapt a few of them – like the one in the very first image of this post.


Now, that one might not make your brain go “ouch”…but it sent shivers down my back! Go on…THUNK it over for a minute – and then ask your “boss” what she thunks!

I dare YOU!


I started by playing with this one:

Teacher THUNKS 02

OMG! That’s a bit serious, Tony…I work in the Gulf!


Here’s another:

Teacher THUNKS 04

Now, this is a topical one!


What about this one:

Teacher THUNKS 05

İsa, Meryem and Yusuf! Tony…


Try this one:

Teacher THUNKS 06

Now, that’s a conundrum!


Hey, try this – with a few TEACHer-pals:

Teacher THUNKS 07

Bet they never RT your tweets again!


This one is for any TEACHer that has taught in a Turkish primary or high school – to lighten things a little:

Teacher THUNKS 08

I thought they were both “dead“!


I thought they would all be good for TEACHer pot-luck parties (most of us can’t afford to host a dinner party).

If your brain is not hurting too much, drop us a comment with your reflecto-THUNKS!



If you like these THUNKS….and want to do some of your own – why not pop over to and “add” a few yourself!


Bedtime Reading: The Book of Thunks

When does a THOUGHT turn into a THUNK?

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 21/06/2013 at 9:57 pm

When it’s used by a TEACHer!


Looking differently (Gilbert quote)

And…if we don’t do it, who will?


I once heard a very wise woman (might have been a man) say “The raising of kids is far too important…to leave to parents”!

OK – that was another “fib”…just made it up!


A few days back, I did a wee post based on one of my favourite books – The Little Book of THUNKS – by Ian Gilbert.

A couple of you asked me to elaborate a little…so, at the risk of breaching Ian’s IP rights, here you go (BUT, do try and get a copy of the book…it is lovely)!


What I didn’t tell you (then) is that Ian is a TEACHer.

His whole book and it’s wonderful 260 thunks (I actually think there maybe 264 in there…but let’s not quibble) fell out of his work with Matthew Lipman and his P4C Programme

Go on, have a guess…


P = ?

“4” is easy-peasy

C = ?


Philosophy for Children!


What a wonderful bloody idea…sorry…THUNK!

Ian describes how using this type of “approach” (Socratic…in essence) with this type of “content”…really allows kids to use that little creativity gene they have (you know, the one most schools try and surgically remove before graduation).

This is because THUNKS act as “thought hand grenades” (love that phrase)!


Just look at these TWO:

THUNKS 01 and 02


…or better – a couple that touch on SCHooling:

THUNKS 07 and 08

What kid is NOT going to have a field day with those?


BTW – if I hear that any of you have told your kids (or young adults) that the “opposite” of LEARN is…UNlearn…I will hunt and track you down and then eat your first-born…click HERE to find out just why!


The “trick”?

Well, programmes like P4C (or any “inquiry-based” approach) are designed to help kids “take back” their creative (and critical) thinking skills. They are designed to give students a “voice”…and, the stuff they “create” is nothing short of amazing!


This means?

TEACHers need to throw the “grenade”…and get out of the bloody way!

Ian actually gives a wide range of “tips” for TEACHers (in the book)…tips that I have boiled down and ranted about on the little ole blog (from time to time):



You know I am “right”…


I want to say…a CONSULTing TEACHer can often do a far better job than a TEACHing TEACHerand I’m trying to predict the thunk that might be making a noise in your heads:

Consultants WHY

Sounds like the “job” most of us “signed up” for…YES?


Take a look at a couple more thunks from Ian:

THUNKS 03 and 04

Are you shiriously telling me that Pages 67-8 of the textbook are BETTER?


OK…you don’t have to “replace” the textbook totally – but you could start more classes with thunks like these:

THUNKS 05 and 06

You know…many TEACHers already do – and they are much happier with their lot!


It is these TEACHers that can also get to other questions


…questions that MATTER, questions that make a REAL difference!


Hey, maybe we could even organise some evening classes for “those parentals” – now that would be progress!


John Holt Quote8

To THUNK or not to THUNK…

In Our Schools, Our Universities, The Paradigm Debate on 17/06/2013 at 5:34 pm

Are you man made (thunk)

Does that make your brain go “ouch”!


A lot of people ask me why I use the word thunk so often – and I do…sorry!

I’ve even had people leave a little note on my laptop (after a workshop session or presentation) saying things like this:

THUNK (post it)

Ahhh, that’s so sweet!


The term THUNK is not mine…well, it is (it belongs to everyone now), actually – after Ian Gilbert gifted it to us in his wonderful book The Little Book of THUNKS – 260 questions to make your brain go ouch!

…way back in 2007.


Some of Ian’s questions are just so much fun

3 Thunks (Ian Gilbert)


I think I found the book a year later, when I was in Australia.

I used it so much with advanced LEARNers…and people who wanted to take their (already great) language skills to the next level…that I wore out my first copy! But, even younger adults just love them, too.


Neyse, when I started the blog…it just fell into my bloggery lexicon – but my questions were not necessarily designed to make anyone’s brain go “ouch”.

I guess I just wanted more of us to “thunk”…in verb form!

…and, I wanted to build my blog on educational issues and questionsEDUthunks, if you will.


You know, questions like:

EDUthunk 01


Yeah…I know, my questions are a lot longer!


This one is not too bad:

EDUthunk 02


And, what about from that lastmini-dizi I did:

Motivation THUNK


My head is still “ouching” from that one!


These “ouches” are good for us all – afterall, is it not questions that drive all our LEARNing? 


LEARNing (Adams quote) Ver 02


Ian tells us that “THUNK” is also the “noise that the brain makes when it starts to think about a thunk“! I loved that…and I listen to my own head whenever I get a thunk down on the blog…


Are there any EDUnoises your head is making today?


Why do I need a teacher when I’ve got Google?

In Book Reviews, Our Schools, Technology on 05/03/2011 at 12:54 pm

Today, I got my fingers burnt!

Hot off the press – I thumbed my way through Ian Gilbert’s new book – a book that all educators and, more importantly, students and their parents, should read.

As you know (and as a dad) I have been a supporter of parents’ rights for years – the more we know, the better decisions we can help our kids make. OK – my “big, little girl” would like to see the level of “parentals’ democratic rights” reduced dramatically but in her heart of hearts she knows that this is the thin edge of the wedge for all of us.

Gilbert, as he does in his many other books, tackles many of the issues I raised in my earlier post – For The Times They Are a-Changin’.

Actually, if you want a really good follow-up to this post why not take a look at the very recent videos from:

OK – back to Ian’s wonderful bedtime read. That is if you don’t mind getting your fingers all inked up – I do not!

This question is one that more and more of the “Digital Generation” is asking – and so they should. Thinking is good, questioning is better. And with so many of us “oldies” saying kids are just not the “same” as they were (and meaning kids today are not as “good” as they used to be) – these are the books we should be stuffing in our kids “christmas stockings” or handing out as “Bayram seker”

But, the title of my post is not Gilbert’s only question – the book is full of them.

Actually, it should be titled “questioning the unquestionable”! Gilbert is controversial, he has an irreverent sense of humour (could be my long-lost brother or evil twin – Ian, if you want to do a “soap”, I am your man) and he “hits” hard – just what we need in education nowadays.

However, and for you more academic-types – the book is also amazingly well-researched and smartly-written.

For those of us with intellectual disorders, it’s also “chunked” into bite-sized pieces (super for reading on the bus to work) with a wide range of  appetizing “main courses”:

  • The great educational lie (p. 16)
  • What’s the real point of school (p. 99)
  • Exams – so whose bright idea was that? (p. 112)
  • Teach less, learn more (p. 172)

This is a restaurant I will come back to – again and again!

I learned Gilbert is not only a smooth operator in the “writing stakes”, he is also is also an great “marketeer” – what educator is not going to want to read a book with chapters like this?

I could not put the thing down – true, mostly because I was looking for the chapter that would help me see what he “thunks” about the biggest question and title of the book – it’s not one of his “chapters”, BTW!

Gilbert tells teachers:

This book is not designed to help you teach better. But it is intended to help you become a better teacher.

It will!

Gilbert tells students (indirectly):

The challenges facing the world are huge and the answers lie in your hands.

They do!

One of my favourite “bits” from the book is in the chapter entitled “Educated is not enough” – and he asks a great many tough questions to teachers and parents. So, let you mum and dad have a read, too. Seriously, those of you that may think that parents have no say in your future are just being silly – Steve Jobs dropped out of college because he did not want to “waste” his parents’ life savings.

Guys – you owe your parents. Nuff said! You will thank me for this advice in twenty-years – and donations to my “iron lung” and “diaper fund” are always welcome!

He also asks the question I have been asking for years (I think for principals, this time):

Is yours a teaching school or a learning school?

He does eventually answer the question posed in the title of the book (but I’m not going to tell you where – tee, hee) but also (in chapter 7) reminds us that:

To do well at school means you have to “play by the rules”. To succeed in business you need to “break the rules”.

Is this also true in the “business of education”?

In one of my very first posts, I asked everyone if they would want to read a book that was “full of questions” – I have found that book.

So, should you!


You can find Ian’s book here: Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google?: Things Every Teacher Should Know