IB Retreat Reflection

During our second week of school, on August 17 and 18, the Grade 11s of 2017-18 went to the Gold Coast for our IB Retreat. Although it only lasted two days, I feel as if the retreat allowed me to smoothly transition into the Diploma Programme while learning about myself and the world around me, as well as allowing me to bond and make good memories with my friends – a great balance between work and play.

A slightly more minor aspect of the retreat that I particularly enjoyed was the fact that the roommates were randomly assigned. Prior to the retreat, I grew rather nervous from the suspense and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to be with my friends or those I normally hang out with. However, it turned out to be a pleasant experience, as my roommates were actually friends that I had no classes with, allowing me to further bond with them and make up for the lack of common classes.

At the same time, something else that I enjoyed but definitely had a more profound impact on me was the Poverty Simulation at Crossroads, which was challenging in a positive way. The whole grade was split into ‘family units’ and for every 10 minute session, we had to continuously make and sell paper bags made from newspaper and ‘glue’ (flour mixed with water) in order to pay our fees and stay alive, occasionally giving up personal belongings or ‘selling’ ourselves. Although it was merely a simulation, I was able to experience the rush, determination and desperation that actual people in poverty may feel. I was extremely overwhelmed by the focus and dedication that I exhibited during each 10 minute round, making paper bags without rest and not caring about anything else around me. As a result of the simulation, I was able to realise how fortunate I was with my current social and economic situation – even when we were working hard and worrying about paper bags, we all knew deep down inside that it was simply just a game, something that would be over in a while; and once it ended, we would return to our air-conditioned hotel, with enough food to eat and a comfortable bed to sleep in. These were thoughts that did not come up often in my mind, and hence were thoughts that I greatly appreciated and acknowledged. Going back to the idea of poverty, I became aware of the severity and immense scale of it around the world, and I was taught that literally anyone could make a difference, no matter how small they think they might be. These issues are happening in our world right now, yet not many individuals are taking action to do something about it.

From the remix sessions held by the teachers, special guest and alumni on the second day, I believe that I was able to find out more about myself and my future path. Many of the remix sessions were based around self discovery, whether it be about ourselves right now or in the future, allowing myself to get a grasp of how I see myself and how I could potentially continue to grow in the near future.

Overall, I found that the IB Retreat was a great experience, giving me the opportunity to discover myself, explore previously unknown topics and spend quality time with my friends. In fact, I found that the retreat was a little short and wanted it to be a little longer.

Sense Perception – Perceptual Realism or Relativism?

Do you agree more strongly with perceptual realism or perceptual relativism?

I believe that I generally agree more strongly with perceptual relativism over perceptual realism. Before this TOK class, I might have been more of a perceptual realist, believing that the world is exactly how it appears to be. However, after being exposed to our sense perception, the way we perceive things and the limitations of our perceptions in everyday life, I have begun to think that perhaps the world is not the way it seems. We each are individually in one body as one person, and I agree with the fact that there is no way for us to move into other beings or other selves to view their perception of the world, and neither can we jump out of ourselves to view the world as objectively as it is. Even if everyone looks at and lives in the same world, our active sense perception alters it so that what we see, hear, smell, touch, taste and overall feel is adapted as we need it to – our senses can be considered unreliable. 

Knowledge Claims and Questions

1st Order Knowledge Claims:

Math – √-1 is an imaginary number

Economics – Economics is about the effective allocation of scarce resources


1st Order Knowledge Questions:

Math – Is it possible to prove the existence of imaginary numbers?

Economics – Is it possible to determine when the allocation of resources can be considered ‘effective’?


2nd Order Knowledge Claims:

Math – Math is discovered and created by humans

Economics – Human judgement is a subjective matter


2nd Order Knowledge Questions:

Math – To what extent is it possible to determine the origin of math?

Economics – Is it possible to eradicate subjectivity in human judgement?

Personal vs Shared Knowledge

1. Explain the Map Metaphor.

A map is a representation of the world, typically in picture form, that allow us to gain understanding of the complexities of the world. This can be compared to examining knowledge in TOK, due to the fact that we are able to simplify more complex concepts and apply them to questions regarding areas of knowledge and ways of knowing. At the same time, maps can be created based on different aspects (e.g. road, MTR, topography) and scales, affecting how it is viewed and interpreted. With TOK, this can also be applied to viewing concepts with different lenses, such as from a mathematical, scientific or geographic lens. 

2. What is the difference between Personal Knowledge and Shared Knowledge?

I think that one of the main differences between Personal Knowledge and Shared Knowledge is the distinction between how many people are aware of and agree with a certain piece of information. When only one person is aware of and agrees with it, it can be considered Personal Knowledge, whereas Shared Knowledge concerns multiple people who are all aware of it and share the same opinion and belief. Reliability can also be discussed, as the majority is usually more valuable and trustworthy, but this is not always the case. 

3. If you cannot explain something to someone else, you do not know it. Do you agree or disagree with this statement and why?

I do not believe that this is always the case. There have been times when I have personally understood and known something, but have been unable to explain it to someone else. This could be due to the fact that there are different degrees and levels of understanding. Although one might know something, they might not understand it enough to be able to explain it, but it does not mean that they do not know it at all.