The History of JONK

It is wonderful that the timeline in this section enables us to reflect upon the huge number of factors, people and events that have shaped every aspect of the philosophy of education and leadership that has now become known as the Joy of Not Knowing.

The fascination with an inquisitive approach to learning and to life led me to initially pursue a career in scientific research. When I later retrained as a primary school teacher, I was incredibly lucky to be offered the opportunity to form part of a two-year research project, as an NQT that involved twelve schools in Bristol looking at effective provision for more able children. This project, which was entitled Flying High’ and led by Professor Deborah Eyre and Lynne McClure introduced me to a wide range of fascinating pedagogical initiatives which I then started to incorporate into the daily life of the classroom to inspire all children with a lifelong love of learning.

The impact of this was fabulous and led to several very interesting collaborative pieces of work, presentations and publications. It is also fascinating to reflect upon how this approach and philosophy of education started to then gradually evolve as a whole-school approach, whilst I progressed though senior leadership and then headship. It is fascinating that the history of JONK is continually evolving, changing and moulding itself through all the work, studies, ideas and contributions that schools, higher education establishments, teacher training courses and university research departments are currently contributing to.


Thirst for knowledge and enjoying a quest for the unknown begins with career as a research scientist.


Christ Church Primary School and Flying High Action Research Project; Marcelo as an NQT in Bristol; this project introduces me to a number of initiatives designed to develop childrens’ higher order thinking skills.


Approach leads to publication of Measuring the Speed of Sound with a Year 5 class demonstrating how the approach enables children to develop their problem solving skills.


Marcelo develops a Thinking Skills Approach to the Day where higher order thinking skills are promoted across all activities and throughout the day.


Marcelo joins Westbury Park Primary School in Bristol and trains as Level 1 P4C practitioner and embeds philosophy in the timetable and as part of the Thinking Skills Approach to the Day.


School Beacon Project introduces Marcelo to a values led approach to education and this is incorporated into the Thinking Skills Approach.


Marcelo and Alan Rees, Headteacher at Westbury Park Primary School publish Start Thinking, a book of open ended thinking skills challenges for children to enjoy as they enter the classroom in the morning.


Marcelo and David work with the University of Bristol to see how the concept of lifelong learning dispositions can be adapted for and incorporated into the primary school classroom by linking the dispositions to an animal, each publish a chapter in the book Powerful Learning.


Marcelo publishes several articles in the Journal Creative Teaching and Learning describing the Thinking, Lifelong Learning and Philosophical Approach to Teaching and Learning.


As Deputy Headteacher of St. Bartholomew’s CE Primary School, Marcelo helps whole school to develop and embed the approach; marked impact observed with regards to standards, behaviour, home learning, love of learning, parental engagement. Here Comes Philosophy Man is published in Creative Teaching and Learning as well as in peer-reviewed journal ‘Gifted Education International’.


Marcelo becomes Headteacher of Hertford Infants and Nursery School and whole approach is introduced, supported by introduction of whole staff multi-professional teams. Whole school approach becomes known as the Joy of Not Knowing to encompass what has now become a whole school philosophy of education and of leadership. JONK articles published in Creative Teaching and Learning.


The concept of the JONK Learning to Learn week is born to enable schools to devote the first week of the academic year to teaching children how to learn to learn and how develop a lifelong a love of learning.


Approach leads to school showing year on year increases in standards, attendance and first choice preferences. In 2012 school is judged Outstanding by Ofsted for the first time in its history.


Marcelo joins the University of Brighton on secondment and introduces concept of JONK to initial teacher training modules and to school in Santander, Spain.


JONK approach leads to development of children as learning leaders who produce first whole school child version of the school development plan. School develops own set of lifelong learning dispositions in young children friendly language.


Concept of JONK Thinking in Playgrounds launched and article published in Creative Teaching and Learning.


Marcelo becomes Headteacher of Balfour Primary School where JONK philosophy enables school to develop teachers and students as researchers and introduce whole school sets of values, lifelong learning dispositions to support the meeting of children’s rights.


The JONK Teaching and Learning Model of Excellence and Enjoyment is developed and includes the eight areas of teaching and learning that have most impact on childrens’ outcomes.


Latest articles published in Creative Teaching and Learning demonstrating impact that the JONK approach has on children as leaders of their own learning and of school improvement and on the potential for children to become active participants in community partnerships.


First Annual JONK Schools Network Conference takes place at Viscount Nelson Educational Trust Conference Centre, Norfolk.


Marcelo founds the JONK Thinking and Learning Educational Consultancy Enterprise to help schools establish a learning to learn ethos and culture.


Publication of books JONK Start Thinking Early and Empezar Pensando.


Publication of book The Joy of Not Knowing.

Success Stories

I had the most amazing day with the philosophy masterclass. We had great feedback from the teacher Mr S.

- Philosophy | Masterclass

D said it was the “best day ever”

- Philosophy | Masterclass

Marcelo Staricoff is amazing and inspiring

- Teacher | Brighton

JONKing at Coastal Federation was one of the best things we’ve done to inspire our children- go for it!

- Coastal Federation | Norfolk

Thank you for the JONK Course, excellent course and I can’t wait to start!

- Teacher | JONK Course

Great examples, brilliant presentation

- Headteacher | JONK Course