How To Ask Thunk Questions

What Are Thunk Questions?

Thunk Questions are highly abstract questions which require students to think creatively to provide a response. 

There will never be a single correct answer to a Thunk Question and they are always open to individual interpretation.

Thunk Questions can be used in relation to the topic being taught or alternatively if the aim of the lesson is purely to promote creative thinking, discussion and debate then Thunk Questions can be used in any context.

It is important that teacher understand how to ask Thunk Questions in lessons as they provide a unique opportunity for students to engage in their learning in a more abstract way.

If you would like to find out more about Thunk Questions, and improve your understanding of how to ask thunk questions in lessons, what better place to direct you than to the original book, written by Ian Gilbert, which contains 260 Thunk Question examples.

The Little Book of Thunks: 260 Questions To Make Your Brain Go Ouch!

Thunk questions are just one of many question types that teachers can ask in lessons. To find out about other types of questions you should check out the article below:

18 Types Of Questions teachers Can Ask In Lessons

VIDEO: Thunk Questions Explained

Examples of Thunk Questions

  • If your pet dog could talk, how would it describe you? 
  • What colour is Wednesday?
  • Can you touch the wind?
  • Is combing your hair art?
  • Is your shadow part of you?
  • If the answer is, ‘never before in history,’ what is the question?
  • Can I be accused of cheating if I don’t know the rules?
  • Can your clothes ever be unethical?
  • What’s larger, your personality or your intelligence?
  • What do you have in common with a pencil?
  • What does success smell like?
  • If you paint over a window, is it still a window?
  • Are you what you eat?
  • Is there more happiness or sadness in the world?
  • Is a white piece of paper more blank than a black one?
  • Can a baby commit a crime?
  • If you read a magazine in a shop, is that stealing? 
  • What colour would a zebra be if it lost all of its stripes?
  • Can you have a friend that you don’t really like?
  • If I borrow a million pound am I a millionaire?

When and How To Ask Thunk Questions In The Classroom

Thunk Questions can be used at any stage within a lesson. 

They are fantastic when used as a starter activity as they instantly engage students in the lesson and encourage participation, discussion and debate. 

However, Thunk Questions can be used at any point the lesson where students would benefit from exploring the topic being taught in a more creative and abstract way. 

Thunk Questions can also be used during tutorials, enrichment sessions and academic skills development sessions as they are an effective tool for supporting the exploration of ideas, concepts and study skills. 

What Are The Benefits Of Asking Thunk Questions In Lessons?

Thunk Questions provide an opportunity for students to develop their ability to think philosophically and creatively. 

As there are no right and wrong answers, Thunk Questions are accessible for students and they will demonstrate a greater level of confidence when expressing their own views on a topic. 

With different viewpoints and ideas being raised by different students, discussions and debates will occur.

Through these discussions and debates students will develop their ability to articulate and justify their own views as well as listen to and appreciate the views of others.

It is therefore important for teachers to broaden their questioning toolkit by understanding how to ask thunk questions in lessons.

Author: Jonathan Sandling