Back To Blogs


To repeat what others have said requires education; to challenge it requires brains

20th January 2020

Each week in my classroom I display two quotations or questions. One is the ‘Thought for the week’ and the other is my ‘thunk ‘of the week. I was introduced to ‘thunks’ by Mrs Johnson and they are drawn from a book by Ian Gilbert. It was a word playfully coined by the author to denote a challenging statement or question for which there are no easy answers. In other words it’s not about the answers but about the thinking, reasoning and logic used to justify a response and the conversation that follows.

I have been using them particularly with the Lower Transits this year as a starter in their RS lessons, to get their brains ‘in gear’. Examples include If you didn’t mean to is it ok? Do unicorns have two horns? Is it always better to be out than in? Should parents be fined for having unfit children? Does your life have a plot? Once brains are engaged and whirring we can set out to engage with the main content of the lesson – an education in ‘what others have said’. All of this is very important in order that they can know and understand the world in which they live. However as Mary Pettibone alludes to in her quotation, that alone is not enough, our students need to think for themselves and challenge where appropriate. To quote Ian Gilbert “We live, so they tell us, in a post-fact world. What they omit to tell us is that if we simply accept the fact that there are no facts, we’re all doomed.”

More than ever we need to encourage our students to be asking questions, looking deeper, questioning authorities (where appropriate) and ‘becoming obstreperously curious’. In short they need to be thinking for themselves. To quote Ian Gilbert again “The future of the world depends on it.” So this week –let’s get thunking!

Mrs Crossley