Pre-IB (2): The ‘what’ of TOK

The ‘what’ of TOK refers to the knowledge produced by human thought. Human knowledge is divided  into Areas of Knowledge (AoKs). Those units generally combine subjects which have similar methods, scope and goals. There are eight of them. Natural Sciences, Human Sciences, History, Mathematics, the Arts, Indigenous Knowledge, Ethics, and Religious Knowledge. TOK will not only make you look at these areas of human thought from a new perspective but it will also highlight the connections and differences between them ...

The TOK Presentation Planning Document

Many students will be busy putting the finishing touches to their TOK presentations, here are a few last minute pieces of advice. The planning document is the only evidence the IBO will have of your presentation, make sure it is filled in to ensure the best possible mark. As a matter of good practice, initially try and choose two or three Real Life Situations (RLS) before settling on one of them, not all RLS will necessarily provide good TOK material. Make a ...

WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM?

“Nothing is original. We create through experiment, struggle and learning from others”  Happy New Year! I’m starting off the 2017 visual arts blog with a big question: WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM? This is part one of a blog two-parter. (Hey, it’s a big question!)   It’s actually as much a ToK question as a visual arts one, like many of the deeper questions in life. I could follow it up with some Knowledge Questions such as To what extent is creativity informed by research? To what ...

Deconstructing a Knowledge Question

In the last blog we looked at how to identify and construct a Knowledge Question, this is particularly important for the TOK presentation. In this blog we will focus on how to deconstruct a Knowledge Question. This is of course essential for success in the TOK essay and although this is some way off for many students it is useful to look at this now so one can practice the skill before the TOK essay titles arrive at the end ...

Knowledge Questions

Knowledge Questions (KQs) are the heart of the Theory of Knowledge course in the DP, yet it is not unusual to find many students and (let’s say this quietly), even some teachers who do not seem to grasp what they are and what they are for. If you read the IBO guidelines on TOK you will find explanations of the nature of KQs as well as a table of examples of good KQs, acceptable KQs, not so good KQs and questions ...

The Shroud of Turin: perspectives, faith, and evidence

  Intense emotions and extensive discussion have swirled around the 4-metre-long cloth known as the Shroud of Turin. Is it really the burial cloth that was wound around the body of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion (as many Christians believe), miraculously preserving His image? Or is it a hoax? Earlier this month (Oct 9-12), a conference in St. Louis, Missouri  brought together international presenters and participants on the topic “Shroud of Turin: The Controversial Intersection of Faith and Science”. However, it is ...

“What’s your favourite number?”

Mathematician Alex Bellos was intensely irritated by the question. Was that person in the audience mocking him, or possibly ridiculing what he’d been saying about mathematics, to ask such a bizarre and irrelevant question at the end of his lecture? The audience member had asked him, as others had done before, “What’s your favourite number?” In this podcast conversation from Radiolab, Bellos describes his abrupt shift of perspective as he realizes that the questioner is asking in sincerity. Quickly, he discovers ...

Grisly and sensational: Jack the Ripper and a TOK critical thinking

Have your students heard of Jack the Ripper?   If not, you’ll probably want to skip this activity. Even though it would still be an exercise in evaluating sources and evidence, a lot of the shiver would be lost – and hence the fun in class. However, if they have heard of the brutal serial killer who stalked East London, England, in the 1880s, this could be an engaging activity for early in the TOK course -- to launch critical approaches ...

Indigenous Knowledge: definition, implications, and controversy

About all areas of knowledge, we ask questions that take us straight to methodology and social context. Who owns knowledge? How is it passed on as shared knowledge, and within what controls of methodology or power? We may think instantly of the sciences, and even controversies over current scientific conclusions and scientific products (e.g. medicines and technologies). Yet some of the oldest knowledge in the world is equally ignited by these knowledge questions, which burn hotly in our news. As ...

Shared knowledge: 2 stories of significance

Behind the stark issue of climate change -- like the other challenges of our times -- looms a concept essential to explore in Theory of Knowledge: shared knowledge. How does knowledge reach people? Through what process of sharing does the public gain knowledge that will affect their lives?  Two recent news reports highlight contrasting processes by which knowledge claims on climate change reach the public -- with profoundly different implications for action. The two reports I pick out are from science ...