Known knowns, known unknowns, unknown knowns and unknown unknowns

I face a group of pupils and I am terrified.  Not because I don’t know how to teach – I like to think I do.  But because, just occasionally, I realise I might be found out.

For there is a secret to my teaching. A really awful secret.  A secret so awful that its awfulness is never normally admitted or accepted or revealed or spoken about or…

The fact is, I don’t really have a clue what the young people I teach are thinking.

Oh I like to pretend that I do, pretending that I can read their thoughts through their actions, their speech, their body language, but really inside me I know that this is not always the case.

For I have this nasty feeling that sitting in front of me in every class there are always at least a couple of youngsters whose thoughts are so far removed from anything I might ever entertain or encounter, that I can’t even imagine them.

Of course, that is not to say that these pupils of mine are badly behaved or unteachable.  I just have the suspicion that the way they see the world is so completely different from my perception that they are, to all intents and purposes, aliens.  I have no idea what is going on in their heads.

Now as long as I know that these youngsters are “different” in their mode of thinking, then they are, in the Donald Rumsfeld classification of life forms, “known unknowns.”

But my dark and deep fear is that also in my class is at least one person who has thoughts I can’t imagine, but whom I think I do understand.  Is that an “unknown unknown”.  I’m really not sure, and have started to get worried.

Of course, I am not the first to tread this path.  “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” went there long before me, and in my view this is a book that everyone should experience, just to get a notion of just how weird things can get.

That’s why we have published a graphic SEN revision support version of the book for GCSE English.  To help combat the terror of facing an unknown unknown.  You can see how unknowingly unknown things can look by reviewing the sample pages here.

You can order the graphic novel version of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (if you dare) on our website.

For more information and to see sample pages visit:

Alternatively, you can contact us by phone on 01449 766629 or by email at

We are known, and you know that you know.  We are known knowns.  And thus safe.

Brilliant Publications,
Mendlesham Industrial Estate,
Norwich Road,
IP14 5ND.


phone: 01449 766629
fax: 01449 768047