Tag Archives: knowledge questions

Shroud of Turin follow-up: new material for AOK History


The image of the shroud pictured above is a poster from 1898. By then the images on the shroud were faint.

(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC TOK blog) This topic of the Shroud of Turin just keeps getting better and better for TOK. In my last post, I outlined TOK lessons based on it. But now – even better materials for launching a class! A podcast interview with historian Charles Freeman (25 minutes), linked from the website of History Today,  readily sets up a leaner lesson on the methods of research of an historian. The interviewer applauds Freeman’s research as “historical detective work” on an “unsolved mystery” and invites him to explain his methods of investigation. Continue reading

“What’s your favourite number?”

nine-217900_640(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC TOK blog) 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 that half the members of his audience have “favourite numbers”. And so begins his own investigation into emotional and imaginative associations with numbers, and the non-rational characteristics that many people attribute to a numbering system he had previously seen exclusively in terms of reason. 
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Grisly and sensational: Jack the Ripper and TOK critical thinking

JacktheRipper1888(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC TOK blog October 2014) 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 quite broadly and plant vocabulary ready for more subtle application later on. Continue reading

So who needs language?

(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC blog Sept 25, 2014)  :roll:   Can we write more directly and more effectively to each other by chucking out all those words and using emoticons or emoji instead?  Three social networks are currently offering images to bypass text altogether.  Could this be, at last, a universal language? Continue reading

Shared knowledge on climate change: methodology and PR

ipcc cover(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC blog Sept 1, 2014) 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. Continue reading

cupcakes and sushi: fads, trends and questions of knowledge

SONY DSC(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OSC TOK blog Aug 19, 2014) What’s the difference between a fad and a trend? How is the passing craze for cupcakes relevant to knowledge in the human sciences? A light story on food fads raises some general knowledge questions. Continue reading

opinions on the child: raising knowledge questions with literature

14 07 28 baby
(by Theo Dombrowski, OSC TOK blog July 28, 2014) On a day when TOK students seem hard to rouse to even a mild level of vehement engagement, they will almost certainly perk up when asked questions like the following:

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the essential question of knowledge

The question “How do we know?” drives inquiry. When we ask it with the stress on the last word – know — it opens up overview questions on the very nature of knowledge and the forms it takes. When we ask it with the stress on the first word – how? – it takes an analytical edge applied to methods of giving answers. In this blog, we follow this question — sometimes seriously, sometimes lightheartedly — through issues and stories of our day.   Eileen Dombrowski

History: the past in the present

(by Eileen Dombrowski, OSC TOK blog June 27) A symphony concert. A statue. These artworks of sculpture and music are charged with meaning in the context of war commemorations in Sarajevo today. The music is Haydn’s “God save the Emperor” and the statue is a monument to the assassin who killed the emperor’s heir. If you know anything about the outbreak of the First World War, you might feel a chilly shiver. Continue reading