1st Edition

The Joy of Not Knowing A Philosophy of Education Transforming Teaching, Thinking, Learning and Leadership in Schools

By Marcelo Staricoff Copyright 2021
    258 Pages 168 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    258 Pages 168 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Continue Shopping

    The Joy of Not Knowing takes every aspect of the curriculum and of school life and transforms it into a personalised, meaningful and enjoyable experience for all. It offers readers an innovative, theoretical and practical guide to establish a values-based, enquiry-led and challenge-rich learning to learn approach to teaching and learning and to school leadership.

    This thought-provoking guide provides the reader with a wealth of whole-class, easy-to-implement, malleable, practical ideas and case studies that can be personalised to the vision of each setting, age-group and curriculum. It brings together, as a whole-school framework, the strategies that have been shown to have the greatest impact on practitioner’s professional fulfilment and on children’s life chances, love of learning, intrinsic motivation and enthusiasm for wanting to know. The Joy of Not Knowing

    • enables schools to launch the academic year with a bespoke JONK Learning to Learn Week that enables every student to succeed
    • develops philosophical, creative and critical problem-solving and multi-lingual thinking skills
    • establishes collaborative cultures of thinking, learning and leadership
    • informs practice through active action research
    • incorporates a values-led democratic approach to school life
    • nurtures school-pupil-family-community partnerships

    Designed for school leaders and practitioners at all levels and across all ages, this practical guide shows how all students can thrive and develop the dispositions of successful lifelong learners and global citizens.



    1. Introduction
    2. Learning and the importance of developing a joy for not knowing
    3. Developing a whole-school JONK culture for learning
    4. Motivated learners, motivational teachers, collaborative leadership
    5. The ‘JONK Learning to Learn Week’, Principles and Methodologies for Implementation
    6. The ‘JONK Learning to Learn Week’; Theory into practice and a day-by-day guide of what to teach each day
    7. The Thinking Skills Starters
    8. Philosophy and a philosophical approach to learning
    9. Lifelong learning and the lifelong learning dispositions
    10. Thinking and learning at home
    11. Bilingual and multilingual thinking in multicultural classrooms



    Marcelo Staricoff is the creator of the Joy of Not Knowing (JONK) approach, founder and director of JONK Thinking and Learning Ltd, a School Tutor in Education at the University of Sussex and an educational consultant, speaker and trainer working with schools nationally and internationally on applying the principles contained in this book. He is the author of Start Thinking and a former scientist who became a primary school teacher and headteacher. He is a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching (elected in 2019).

    ‘This is a wonderful book packed with practical examples of how to build an authentic learning culture within an early years setting or primary school. The author draws upon his own extensive research experience as a teacher and headteacher in helping the reader to develop their own deep understanding of learning discovery, the importance of challenge and the insight of being able to explain thinking. This is a book to dip into and to delight in whether you are starting out on your career as a teacher or whether you have spent many years observing and learning with children. There is much here to remind us about the purpose and wonder of learning as a truly collective endeavor. I recommend this work to you and hope that as you are guided through the text by Staricoff you discover much that resonates with your existing philosophy and even more that spurs you not only to be inspired but to act.’

    Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive of The Chartered College of Teaching

    ‘The Joy of Not Knowing provides readers with a philosophically informed festival of teaching ideas and strategies to fundamentally rethink how to inspire and foster the curiosity of learners. Whether you are an experienced school leader, or a beginning professional engaged in initial teacher education, this book offers a thought-provoking guide to unleashing a radical classroom culture of engagement in uncertainty and nurturing a commitment to lifelong learning. Rooted in both pedagogic wisdom and practice rich exemplification, JONK moves from establishing values led principles and ethos to sharing structured models for personalised learning, cross-curricula development and whole school approaches whereby a love of learning becomes not only a source of pleasure and inspiration but a way of being and knowing.’

    Simon James Thompson, Head of Education, National Teaching Fellowship Award 2016

    ‘If it is true that "the mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled" then The Joy of Not Knowing is a bonfire. Marcelo Staricoff has produced a resource that is radical and reassuring, challenging and supportive. JONK offers a deeply thought out, integrated and coherent model that focuses on securing optimal learning for every member of the school community but particularly every child. This is a highly inclusive strategy that supports academic success, personal development and building cultural capital.’

    John West-Burnham, Independent Writer, Teacher, Author and Consultant in Education Leadership

    ‘We’ve had the most amazing JONK Learning to Learn Week. The children have come up with some wonderful ideas about how they see their learning, all talk about being in the pit when struggling in lessons, homework books have been replaced with family home learning journals, we have been using De Bono’s hats, are planning maths calculation videos (the children love these!) for the website and in form time this afternoon every group are going to be having a philosophy session. Staff have been telling me how much they have enjoyed it and how it has reminded them why we do this job in the first place.’

    David Oldham, Headteacher, Mulbarton Junior School, Norfolk

    ‘The whole JONK approach of giving children permission to learn from their mistakes and to own their own learning has had a significant impact on our outcomes. Moving forward we will be having a Learning to Learn Week in September. This is not a quick fix but rather a whole school approach to learning which if embraced by all staff will have a significant impact on your children.’

    Bev Theobald, Headteacher Mulbarton Infant School, Norfolk

    ‘The JONK approach is inspirational to the point of transformational.’

    Graeme Cushnie, Headteacher, Ballaugh School, Isle of Man

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

    Teachers, Coastal Federation, Norfolk

    ‘I just wanted to thank you for your JONK lecture today - myself and my peers were really inspired! We have all been talking about how excited we are to start our NQT year following your lecture, a welcome change as we are generally a bit overwhelmed (as well as being excited) at the prospect! Just wanted to say how useful it was and how much it was appreciated. I am sure we will all be buying your book!’

    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.’

    Student, University of Brighton

    'The book is laden with research informed models, and importantly, for teachers, meaningful ideas of how to implement the philosophy in today's classroom. Staricoff has produced a book that adequately prepares children for the future by reminding teachers of important values and concepts that reimagine what a successful education should entail.'

    Primary First (NAPE)