Tag Archives: shared knowledge

Clever cons and TOK 2: What does storytelling do to knowledge?

160215 scam roadsign(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OUP blog) Stories have power. In the scams of con artists, they have the power to “get you emotionally transported enough that you stop asking questions, or at least the questions that matter.” So warns Maria Konnikova, whose recently published book The Confidence Game prompted my post last week, and this week. At the same time, however, stories have an enriching role in the creation of knowledge, not just in obvious areas such as literature and history but also in areas such as the sciences where we might not expect a narrative to carry us. What, then, is the role of storytelling in telling lies, and telling truths? Continue reading

Reliability in psychological science: methodology in crisis?

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(by Eileen Dombrowski, from OUP IB blog) “Scientific truth is a moving target,” wrote the editors of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) a decade ago. “But is it inevitable, as John Ioannidis argues…that the majority of findings are actually false?” In the decade since the editors posed this question, the psychological sciences have been shaken by further challenges to their credibility, including some widely reported controversies. It was August of this year, however, that brought the most significant shock waves, when the Reproducibility Project of the Open Science Collaboration announced its conclusions – that most of the articles published in leading psychological journals were unreliable. Most! This crisis in knowledge – in both its nature and its interpretations — is acutely relevant to us as teachers of Theory of Knowledge, aiming as we do to treat the human sciences with contemporary understanding. Continue reading

“Climate Skeptic” or “Denier”: Can journalists stake neutral ground in a language war?

(by Theo Dombrowski. first published OUP blog)

151108newsglobeWords map our concepts. They affect how we think within our personal knowledge, and how we shape and exchange our shared knowledge. In any critical examination of the creation and flow of knowledge, we need to be aware of the influence of the terminology we use.  

Do you accept the knowledge claims above? If so, you are likely to be keenly interested in guidance on terminology issued to journalists by the Associated Press Stylebook editors on September 22, 2015. The editors have recommended specific language for journalists writing on climate change “ to help our reporters and editors present the news accurately, concisely and clearly”.

This AP announcement hands TOK teachers a current example for class on the relevance of language to handling concepts, and the importance of definitions and connotations in public flow of knowledge. Continue reading

“Really? You don’t know what MATTER is?”: Nobel Laureate in physics uses doughnuts to explain.

(from OUP TOK blog) In just a minute and a half on a comedy show, Arthur McDonald explains the discovery in physics that made him a co-winner of a Nobel Prize for physics this month. Well, actually…..no, he doesn’t. But he does provoke a laugh, perhaps especially for Canadians who recognize the popular chocolate Timbits he resorts to using in a simplified explanation. I recommend this video clip for TOK class for two reasons: first, a class laugh opens discussion of scientific discovery without distancing those fearful of physics; and second, it raises some tasty knowledge questions about the nature of explanation and responsibility.   Continue reading

Simplifying the knowledge framework, entry level

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(originally posted on my OUP TOK blog) IB Theory of Knowledge soars over knowledge, dipping to see knowledge claims close-up and lifting into the sky for overviews of whole bodies of knowledge claims and the contours of different areas of study. Experienced teachers of TOK become comfortable with framing particular examples with general concepts at differing levels of generality, or grounding large concepts with particular examples, across all areas of knowledge. But do we risk leaving our students behind? What is a comfortable level of generality, and a comfortable level of language, for students as they enter discussions on areas of knowledge?

Continue reading

Small picture, big picture: a photography resource for TOK

15 09 camera(first published in my Oxford University Press blog) Images and stories – singular tales have power to grip our imaginations and, in vividly capturing individual moments, to evoke a far more general experience. We’ve certainly witnessed the impact on political discussion of the single photo of a drowned child that I blogged on – and so did everyone else! – just recently. (“How does a single photo of a single drowned child affect our shared knowledge?”, Sept 9) Yet what is the role of images in the knowledge we share?

This question is huge: it takes us into photos and films, maps and models, all of them compared with language for symbolic representation of the world; it takes us into forms of evidence and issues of reliability; it takes us into the particularizing methods of photography and literature compared with the generalizing methods of the sciences. For today, though, I’d like to narrow down to the relationship between images, representation, and knowledge claims — and share with you an exciting resource. Continue reading

How does a single photo of a single drowned child affect our shared knowledge?

(originally posted on my OUP TOK blog) “It was not an easy decision to share a brutal image of a drowned child,” acknowledges the Director of Emergencies of Human Rights Watch. As media around the world take this decision to share the photo, it has affected political debate on the crisis of refugees trying to enter Europe. But why? What role does such an image play in our shared knowledge?  Continue reading

Theory of Knowledge: the book and the blog

Sharing – that’s what Theory of Knowledge teachers do. Long before the term “shared knowledge” took its central spot in our course, we teachers were passing around ideas and suggestions for lessons within our own IB community. Myself, I’ve been blogging on TOK for five years now, and you can see some of that history on Activating TOK. This month, though, I’m pleased to shift my primary blogging to the website of Oxford University Press.  That is, I’ll post there first, though I will continue to echo each post on Activating TOK.  Through the Oxford University Press website, I hope to reach more readers and be able to contribute more to TOK.

What’s the connection between the TOK Course Book and this TOK blog? 

Books and blogs serve different purposes – books to integrate ideas into a large, coherent picture, and blogs to focus on specific points, often touching the passing events and thoughts of the day. You’ll find them useful in different ways in your own TOK course. Continue reading

“It shakes your guts.”: TOK knowing in an adventurous ice climb

(by Eileen Dombrowski, first published in my TOK blog, Oxford University Press) Ice climbing to precipitous heights is not everyone’s idea of a good time. Certainly – most certainly – not mine! But while I find adventurer Will Gadd’s ascent of frozen Niagara Falls essentially horrifying, I’m intrigued at the potential for a stimulating TOK class that emerges from the videos of his climb in January and a video/audio interview he did in June of this year. In this blog, I often suggest fresh material for TOK classes. This time, I’ll go into some detail on how I imagine using it – and please feel free to pick out anything useful to you. Continue reading

“Evidence-based medicine”: a class discussion, with a caffeine lift!

1507coffeeDid you know that green coffee bean extract can help you lose weight? No? Me neither! Today, I’d like to propose a class discussion on thinking critically about media knowledge claims for products that yield fabulous (literally) medical benefits. The discussion is given a caffeine lift by a bite-sized example from a year ago – a story of fabulous claims and the corrective process of science. Continue reading