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The Monkey-Proof Box

Curriculum design for building knowledge, developing creative thinking and promoting independence


Monkey-Proof Box is a manifesto on how to dismantle the curriculum we’re told to deliver and construct in its place the curriculum we need to deliver.

A group of monkeys. A box full of nuts. A lever on its front that releases the nuts down a chute. The monkeys excitedly poke at the box with rocks … nothing happens. Meanwhile, one monkey sits to the side observing. But when the others wander off, he gets up and, with a curious push of his palm, presses down on the lever. Immediately, the nuts tumble down the chute. He can’t believe his luck and eats them all up. He then presses the lever again and again, each time getting more and more nuts.

In the early years, our youngest learners get to have a go at such a monkey-proof box on a daily basis, but then as they get older – and as learning becomes more formal – we ditch the monkey-proofing for the path of least resistance. They are suddenly given the nuts on a plate, and their curiosity and creative thinking begins to fade.

But what if it didn’t? What if we kept hold of some of that monkey-ness? In The Monkey-Proof Box, Jonathan Lear sets out how teachers can deliver a curriculum rich in authentic learning experiences that enable children to learn from one another and grow into empowered, knowledgeable and creative thinkers driven by insatiable curiosity.


222 x 182mm
200 pages (est)
paperback & eBook
March 2019