In Two Minds

Being in two minds usually refers to occasions when we struggle to make up our minds about choices in front of us, like whether to have the healthy option for lunch or indulge one last time before we begin that diet tomorrow. One could also use the expression for when one is not able to decide on the truth of two, apparently, mutually exclusive propositions. A further meaning could be that which is closer to what might be called cognitive ...

Thinking: Fast or Slow?

For most of human history we have assumed our decisions to be the result of a conscious and rational process, and that we are in control of our most of our decisions and actions most of the time. Now a whole raft of research and books has called this into question and it suggests that our instinctive and intuitive selves in fact 'run the show.' The evidential basis for this seems incontrovertible and there have been very few dissenting voices ...

Binary Logic

The human brain seems to mostly operate using a default binary operational system. Our experience of the world often seems to come to us in the form of either/or choices between two mutually exclusive options. This expresses itself in what philosophers call dichotomies. It appears that this binary approach to thinking and decision making is inbuilt but also reinforced by cultural and historical factors. Whilst there are clear practical advantages to reducing every choice to black or white options, there ...

Believing and Learning

We are used to coming across the phrase “seeing is believing” on a pretty regular basis. It is assumed to mean that the most important basis for taking anything to be true is to have a direct experience of it. However, is there something to be said for a positive role for belief as a precursor to understanding and learning? Here I do not mean belief in the purely propositional sense, belief that; but belief in, a commitment to the ...

Does Faith as a WoK Work?

The introduction of Faith as a Way of Knowing will have ruffled quite a few feathers and marked a significant departure in the IB's historically staunch secularism. For the Doubting Thomases out there I would like to offer some justifications for Faith's inclusion in that hallowed set of IB concepts, the Ways of Knowing (WoKs). Namely, Faith has been a much misunderstood and unfairly derided concept for too long, its relationship to reason and knowledge has been too often misrepresented. ...

TOK blog: “Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.”

By Saturday, January 31, 2015 No tags 0

Today I bid farewell to readers of this TOK blog.  You will find me blogging on my own site Activating TOK  starting in a day or two.  I've really enjoyed blogging with OSC for the sense belonging to an educational community, but for now I want to direct my energies to building up my own blogsite.  Readers will find it easy to navigate Activating TOK and can sign up to have new posts arrive in their email, so I hope that many of you will visit me ...

2014 TOK blog posts in single consolidated file

By Thursday, January 1, 2015 No tags 0

Would you like to download a pdf of all the posts Theo and I have made here during 2014?  As I pulled this document together, I discovered that we've made more than 50 posts...and that the consolidated file runs to 92 pages.  Clearly, we like blogging! Somewhere in there, we hope, will be ideas of use to you in the TOK classroom.  Unlike the blog, the printed material isn't tagged and isn't searchable, but I've put together a Table of Contents at ...

Doing good is good for you: Ethics and the Human Sciences, TOK and CAS

(re-post from December 16, 2013 blog. It's so appropriate for this time of year!) Is there really anything newsworthy about the value of doing good to others?  So much has been said over so many centuries that surely current psychological research cannot add tremendously to our understanding!  And surely doing good falls within the scope of ethics -- and not within the scope of the human sciences!  Yet, quite the contrary: recent studies in the human sciences do contribute knowledge -- and knowledge that is particularly welcome at a ...

Electrocution and Marriage Rates: Correlation or Cause?

The comic charts on the website Spurious Correlations are already familiar to many TOK teachers. But if you’ve missed this resource till now, you won’t want to miss it any longer. Did you know that the number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets correlates with the total revenue generated by skiing facilities in the US – or that the number who were electrocuted by power lines correlates with the marriage rate in Alabama? Would you infer that one ...

Who’s an “Indian”?: classification and implications

Who’s indigenous? And does it matter? These are significant questions, with significant answers. They are relevant to TOK both through the new area of knowledge, indigenous knowledge, and an old area of knowledge, ethics – as well as to all the ways of knowing involved in classifying our concepts. Two stories in this past month’s news bring them to life: a court contest in Canada about who is classified as “aboriginal” and a conflict in Tanzania over whether indigenous people ...