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Ian Gilbert, Founder

Thinking Skills - Educational Leadership - Questioning

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.

Recent titles include:

  • Ten Lessons from 'The Working Class'
  • Why Do I Need a Teacher When I've Got Google?
  • 'You're Not Thinking, You're Just Being Logical!'

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.

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. (It evens warns about the need to prepare ourselves for a global pandemic!)

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 30 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.

"The last time you came to see us had a significant effect on the teaching staff, and our teachers really enjoyed and took on board what you had to say"

"Ian was exceptional and inspired all"

"I would just like to say that Ian’s sessions went down an absolute storm. Staff are talking about him in the corridors!"

"Brilliant and thought-provoking as always"

"Thank you so much for today, it has definitely sparked a lot of discussion and new ways of working. I am really excited about everything you and your company do"

"We’ve had such positive feedback from the staff today so thank you - you’ve given everyone lots to think about"

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