TOK Tuesdays

Knowledge and Religion

To what extent can we be certain that we understand a foreign religious tradition if we haven’t directly experienced it?

Today’s TOK Tuesdays topic comes from our new TOK Sampler, Knowledge and Religion, to give teachers a tangible sense of how our resources can directly assist with the new optional TOK themes starting this fall, while providing stimulating classroom material that they can use straight away while transitioning to the new course.  The full TOK Sampler which is part of Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal includes relevant details for both the ‘old’ and new TOK curriculum.

In the following excerpt from this TOK Sampler, historian of religion Nile Green, UCLA, describes the profound disconnect he experienced between what he had read about Sufism and what he personally encountered when he began to visit Sufi shrines.  

Below is a screenshot of what the resource page for this TOK Sampler looks like on Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal. All TOK Samplers feature short clips featuring a range of experts across different disciplines. At the start of each clip the relevant AOK/WOKs (“old” curriculum) and the related AOKs/Optional Themes for the new TOK curriculum are highlighted. At an opportune moment during the clip a Knowledge Question is shown to provide material for discussion and reflection.

If your school does not have an institutional subscription to Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal you can now sign up for an individual teacher or student subscription. Annual individual subscriptions cost only $99 and provide unlimited access to all resources that are part Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal.

All Ideas Roadshow’s TOK resources are digital – they can be seamlessly used for online or in-class teaching without the need to change your lesson plans! 

TOK Tuesdays

Knowledge and Politics

Under what circumstances can observation of political behaviour invalidate political models?

Today’s TOK Tuesdays topic comes from Ideas Roadshow’s new TOK Sampler, Knowledge & Politics, to give teachers a tangible sense of how Ideas Roadshow’s TOK resources can directly assist with the new optional TOK themes starting this fall, while providing stimulating classroom material that they can use straight away while transitioning to the new course.  All references to WOKs and non-streamlined AOKs will be dropped. 

In the following clip from this Knowledge & Politics TOK Sampler, philosopher Brian Epstein, Tuft University, examines the motivations behind why political officials act in the way that they do, pointing out that the standard explanation assumes a framework which is actually quite at odds from what we observe and that our political models would likely be far more accurate if we paid more attention to their characters and the mechanics of the process that lead to people of that character being chosen as political leaders to begin with. 

(Excerpt from Ideas Roadshow’s TOK Sampler Knowledge & Politics)

UPDATE: Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal includes an extensive collection of TOK video and (digital) print resources for both teachers and students. The materials have been fully aligned with the new TOK curriculum while offering support for the ‘old’ curriculum. All resources, including the TOK Lesson Planner, highlight connections with the new core theme, the knowledge framework, optional themes, areas of knowledge, IA prompts, sample knowledge questions and citation details.”

Register now for a free New TOK Webinar by clicking on the image below.

TOK Tuesdays

Knowledge and Language

To what extent is our use of language influenced by the nature of our bodies?

Today’s TOK Tuesdays topic comes from Ideas Roadshow’s new TOK Sampler, Knowledge & Language, to give teachers a tangible sense of how Ideas Roadshow’s TOK resources can directly assist with the new optional themes starting this fall, while providing stimulating classroom material that they can use straight away while transitioning to the new course. 

In the following clip from this Knowledge & Language TOK Sampler, linguist and sign-language expert Carol Padden describes the fascinating notion of “embodiment” – how our language and accompanying notions of meaning are significantly influenced by the physical means by which we interact with the world around us, highlighting sign language as one where possibilities for embodiment are naturally greater than most. 

(Excerpt from TOK Sampler Knowledge & Language)

UPDATE: Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal includes an extensive collection of TOK video and (digital) print resources which have been fully aligned with the new TOK curriculum while offering support for the ‘old’ curriculum. All resources, including the TOK Lesson Planner, highlight connections with the new core theme, the knowledge framework, optional themes, areas of knowledge, IA prompts, sample knowledge questions and citation details.

Did you register yet for a free New TOK Webinar? For further details and to register, click HERE.

TOK Tuesdays

Knowledge and Indigenous Societies

Under what circumstances can we be certain that a community shares our value system?

Today’s TOK Tuesday topic comes from Ideas Roadshow’s new TOK Sampler called Knowledge & Indigenous Societies to give teachers a tangible sense of how the TOK resources that are part of Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal can directly assist with the new optional themes starting this fall, while providing stimulating classroom material that they can use straight away while transitioning to the new course.  All references to WOKs and non-streamlined AOKs will be dropped as of this spring. 

In one of the clips that is part of the Knowledge & Indigenous Societies TOK Sampler, social psychologist Carol Dweck describes how the degree of applicability of her groundbreaking mindset work was strongly influenced by the prevailing community values, describing how the story had to change significantly to be accepted by an American Aboriginal community to explicitly highlight a resonance with their cultural values. 

TOK Tuesdays

Back To The Future

Reculer pour mieux sauter

Change is difficult. Few of us relish the prospect of moving out of our comfort zone and finding ourselves forced to grapple with new circumstances and uncertain directions. But despite the practical challenges that change often brings, the prospect of change also presents opportunities – not just in terms of future possibilities to do things better (although that’s certainly true), but even more significantly, in providing a concrete occasion to re-examine why we are doing what we’re doing in the first place.  

It is with this firmly in mind, then, that I’d like to turn my attention to the upcoming changes in the TOK curriculum, the subject of a series of online events we’ll be holding starting next week that are open to all. Many TOK teachers are understandably worried about what the concrete impact that such changes will have on them and their students: How will this affect my teaching? To what extent will this impact my students’ essays? In what ways will the new TOK exhibition differ from the current TOK presentation?  

All good questions; and our upcoming online event series is explicitly designed to openly discuss these issues, and a good many more besides, with a wide variety of TOK practitioners.   

But in my upcoming presentation on January 23 that will kick off the series, I will instead switch gears somewhat to focus on the origins of TOK, reflecting on what the IB founders had in mind when they began developing the DP curriculum before then turning my attention to considering how the upcoming changes might be considered with respect to this pioneering philosophy.  In (current) TOK language, in other words, my approach will thus be to combine the WOKs of imagination, memory and reason with the AOKs of history and human sciences.  

Why take this approach?  Well, there are a few reasons:

First, there is the general principle, as alluded to above, that in order to best appreciate where one is going it is often necessary to deeply understand where one has been. 

Secondly, trying to understand why something has been done (whether or not one happens to agree with it), is frequently an important aspect of the process of coming to terms with how, exactly, to deal with it.  

Lastly, my unique background of having a wide range of TOK-related research experiences and perspectives while not being a practicing TOK teacher, places me in an ideal position to frame this issue in a more general  historical and ideological context. 

First, there is the general principle, as alluded to above, that in order to best appreciate where one is going it is often necessary to deeply understand where one has been. 

Once I have set the stage with next Thursday’s presentation, the following events will involve discussions with a variety of different TOK practitioners to get their perspectives on a wide range of issues both directly, and indirectly, linked to the changes to the new TOK curriculum.  Based on the enthusiastic feedback we have received throughout the global TOK community to the mere mention of the possibility of holding such events, we are very much looking forward to the opportunity to constructively interact and engage with a wide cross-section of TOK teachers.