About JONK

The Joy of Not Knowing (JONK) is a values-led philosophy of education and of school leadership that removes barriers and worries associated with not knowing or with findings things difficult by creating a learning to learn culture and ethos in schools where everyone perceives that anything and everything is possible.


The Joy of Not Knowing approach focuses explicitly on teaching children the value and importance of realising that in order to learn something new they must not know it first, and on then setting up a whole school infrastructure that equips learners with all the values, dispositions, skills and strategies that enables them to develop an intrinsic motivation and enthusiasm to want to learn, evolving as successful individuals, lifelong learners and global citizens with a deep and lifelong love of learning.
Teaching learners how to enjoy not knowing lies at the heart of the JONK approach and particularly within the emphasis that the approach places on launching the academic year for staff and students with a dedicated ‘JONK Learning to Learn and to Lead Learning Week’.
Launching the academic year with such an explicit focus on the conditions and cultures that ensure that everyone believes that they can experience success with their learning, however difficult it may seem at the beginning of the process, enables schools to develop their infrastructure in a way that promotes:

  • an inclusive and non-hierarchical staff and student structure for school improvement

  • students who all believe that they can succeed as individuals, inquisitive lifelong learners, critical thinkers and global citizens

  • students who develop all the values and dispositions and attitudes of successful lifelong learners, contributors to employment and society

  • students who develop the independence, metacognition and strategic awareness that enables them to become leaders of their own learning and partners of the school improvement initiatives

  • a curriculum that is delivered using the latest evidence from educational research and that promotes at all times philosophical enquiry and critical and creative thinking

  • the school as a centre of excellence, active in educational research and rich in pedagogical debate

  • transformational links with families and the local, national and global communities, including learning and thinking through a bilingual approach

If you would like to find out more about how schools around the country and the globe are using the JONK philosophy to build upon and enrich their existing excellent practice by moulding the ideas offered in a way that aligns with each school’s values, culture, ethos and visions, please visit the realms below.
I hope that you enjoy exploring all that the website has to offer. All the ideas and initiatives that make up the JONK approach and philosophy are the result of my personal experience as a practitioner working alongside many inspirational colleagues over the last twenty years as a teacher, senior leader, Headteacher, lecturer, researcher, trustee, speaker and author.
The JONK approach is a collection of all that I have seen to make an enormous difference to children’s and adult’s motivation, engagement, enthusiasm, ambition, thirst for knowledge and love of thinking and learning.

Success Stories

I have already had some very positive feedback about the session so many many thanks for your contributions

- PGCE Course Leader

I'm a PGCE Primary student at Brighton and was really inspired by your lecture today. I studied Philosophy as part of my degree and love the idea of incorporating that into my lessons at school.

- Student | University of Brighton

We are 2 PGCE students at Brighton University and were recently at your highly inspiring lecture. We are currently on a placement in a year 3 class and have been given the opportunity to run a learning to learn/ PSHE day on the first day back after half term. We would like this day to focus on team building and PSHE type games in order to re-establish class rules and relationships. There is currently a lot of low level disruptions and behaviour issues, which is inhibiting learning. We would like to address these issues- can you help?

- Student | University of Brighton

I just wanted to drop you a little message to thank you for bringing in Marcelo this morning. To put it simply, he was utterly inspiring. His philosophy, ideas and approach to teaching has instilled in me a great deal of enthusiasm ahead of SBT2 and I cannot wait to get going again.

- Teacher

Thank you! The lecture you gave today at Brighton University was superb, a real inspiration to see that it is still possible to create a more holistic approach to learning that isn’t ruled by the chasing of numbers and figures; that views children as human beings with infinite potential rather than statistics. I would love to have any further tips you are willing to share that would help me implement this ethos into my teaching approach. I really felt that the information you provided today complemented yesterday’s lecture on ability grouping and has given me plenty of food for thought about my practice in the future.

- Teacher

Firstly, thank you for such a refreshing lecture this morning. Speaking with fellow students, it's easy to get bogged down with worrying about planning and progression and levels, but this morning has been an exciting reminder of the joys of working with children. I noticed you mentioned maths investigations in your presentations which really interested me. I am teaching my first lesson of this placement this week, and have been asked to focus on an investigation that uses multiplication. Although I have looked at various websites and books I am yet to be inspired. Do you know of any resources that may be of use to me? I am working with a year 3 class of varied ability and really want to inspire and engage them, but so far I am not finding anything which I think could successfully do this.

- Teacher