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Ian Gilbert

"The overriding purpose of education must be to throw children out of the cave we can never escape from. No, you work it out."

Since founding Independent Thinking in 1994, Ian has built a global reputation as an educational thinker, innovator, entrepreneur, speaker and award-winning editor and writer. He was listed by the IB magazine as one of their top 15 ‘educational visionaries’. 

Never happier than when he is making children’s brains hurt, he has a unique first-hand perspective on the world of education having lived and worked in schools and universities in the UK, the Middle East, South America and Asia.

He is now sharing his time between Rotterdam, where his wife is an international school principal, and their home in the middle of nowhere deep in West Wales.

He wasn’t always interested in exotic foreign travel and meeting interesting people from different countries, as he started off his educational career teaching French in Northampton. He didn't really want to be a French teacher and, while you would think not wanting to teach French to people who didn't want to learn it might be a match made in heaven, it was only ever really a stepping stone. His main ambition was to work with young people in the areas that most fascinated him then and in which he has become such an important figure today – thinking, learning, motivation, creativity and helping all members of the school community be the best they can be.

Through his many books including the ever-popular Thunks collection, his ongoing classroom work with children and young people, his keynotes and workshops at conferences around the world and his continuous work with teachers and leaders in schools, Ian has shown a whole generation of educators that there is always another way. 

Following a chance meeting in the staff room, Ian was encouraged to set up Independent Thinking in 1994 and, since then, has built up a unique educational organisation that acts as a platform for some of the UK’s leading innovative educators and school leaders as well as serving as a ‘lighthouse’ for so many practitioners who might otherwise fall prey to the idea that silence is respect, obedience is behaviour, grades measure education and teaching and learning are the same thing.

Fascinating and really engaging talk - lots of food for thought and ways we can engage children. Certainly the best inset day I’ve attended to date

Thank you for a truly engaging and brilliant keynote at our Festival of Learning

This morning's session with Ian Gilbert was superb. He was an excellent speaker, who really engaged with parents, and I have no doubt that a lot of reflection will be going on as a result

I caught you at your Masterclass at last week’s EduLEAD and it was truly an amazing experience.

A truly inspirational speaker, who not only had interesting and useful things to share, but was also very witty and entertaining. I didn't want the session to end.

I want to thank you for everything in our masterclass session and in your congress talks this week. I have learned so much from you and I cannot wait to implement and show my team

Opened my mind to questioning ‘why

Inspiring, clear, entertaining and informative. It raised questions that challenge thinking

What’s more, he is increasingly helping educators across the globe understand the challenges and opportunities thrown up in the 21st century as we look at the future of education (rosy but different) and the future of schools (not at all rosy unless they become different). His book, Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google?, sums up the challenge nicely and was ahead of its time when it was first published in 2010.

In a nutshell, unless you are adding value to my learning with your teaching, then I'll stay at home with my laptop until you do.

Now, let's unpick the many, many ways great teachers add that value...

Ian is inordinately proud of what Independent Thinking has becomes over the last 25 years and incredibly humbled to be in such great company. Still leading from the front, he sets the bar when it comes to speaking to teachers, children and school leaders about his vision for education and unless someone is complaining their brain hurts, he knows he hasn't got the message across yet.

    • Ian founded Independent Thinking in May 1994 and is CEO

    • You'll find his work in our Leadership, Teaching and Learning and Well-Being topic areas

    • You might also want to consider Dave Harris or Nina Jackson
    • Ask us about Ian's prices and current availability
    • Remember, if you're looking to book more than one Associate then we can offer special 'bulk buy' discounts. More details here.

Make a booking, ask a question or just say hello.

Give us a call on +44 (0)1267 211432, drop us a line at or hit the button.

Our office in lovely West Wales will then get in touch before you can say 'meddylwyr annibynnol'.