TOK Class Reflection: Intro to Natural Science

In the previous TOK class, we looked at the area of knowledge of Natural Science. The prompt for this reflection is “Reflecting on our discussions in class, and with inspiration from the TED video (that we were given to watch), what distinguishes Natural Science from other AOKs?.

I believe that natural science is distinguished from other AOKs by how controversial this area of knowledge is. So many ideas and findings in this AOK, as well as the actual definition of Natural Science, can be debatable and open to the interpretations of different people around the world. In our class, we did an activity where we debated whether a particular statement was applicable to the realm of natural science. Initially, much of us were divided on each statement mainly because we were all defining natural science in different ways, therefore meaning that to each of us different aspects of the world applied to natural science than others in the class thought. I think that natural science is such a controversial and debatable area of knowledge mainly because we can in most cases never be 100% certain that our discoveries or ideas are correct because it is very difficult to confirm things such as collision theory as the reactions take place between such tiny molecules. Also, in the past, what has been considered as the correct idea or understanding of different phenomena of natural science has been based on the popular opinion of those at that time in history. For example, when Charles Darwin first came up with his theory of evolution he got a lot of criticism because everything he was saying contradicted the popular belief of how we and the rest of the animals on earth became how we are today.

TOK Reflection: Faith and Intuition

During today’s TOK class we looked at the WOKs (Ways of knowing) of faith and intuition, and for the majority of the class discussed the question “should faith be considered a way of knowing”. For this reflection, we have been tasked to discuss faith and intuition as WOKs, and provide an outline for the limitations of each as WOKs and also an outline justifying their inclusion as WOKs.

A limitation of faith as a way of knowing would be that everyone has their own individual perspectives, meaning that most people have different interpretations of what faith is exactly, or different beliefs and place their faith in different ideologies. This could cause biases when issues such as conflict of religious interests are being discussed. Many people put their faith in different religions, and they usually believe strongly in the ideologies of the religion that they follow, therefore being biased towards what their religion believes rather than looking at the positives of another idea or trend. A limitation of intuition as a way of knowing would be that often ones intuition can lead to them carrying out a selfish act, as one can argue that intuition can be thought of as the instinct of self-preservation.

This next paragraph will be working to justify faith and intuition as ways of knowing. A justification for faith as a way of knowing is that without it, much of the area of knowledge of religion would be hard to comprehend. Also, we often put our faith into the people that come up with scientific ideas, as we usually have not experienced the phenomenon that they discovered, and therefore put our faith in them as we are believing that their descriptions of these phenomena are how they actually take place. To justify intuition as a way of knowing, I would say that intuition is almost the shorter term representation of faith, and therefore without faith, intuition would also not be able to be viewed as a way of knowing, for the same reasons as described previously in this paragraph.

TOK Reflection: Imagination and Memory

In our most recent TOK class, we explored the roles of imagination and memory in the development of one’s knowledge. In groups, we thought about how each of these ways of knowing can impact someone’s development of knowledge. For imagination, my group came up with three points, the first was that it can help us to perceive or relate events around the world to events in the past, and look at the similarities of the causes of historical events and current events, therefore being able to have an idea of how a current event would play out. The second point was it helps us to visualize certain concepts, such as the value of mathematical variables, such as x, and the final point being that, in the eyes of some people, religions were formed based off of the imagination of people and their abilities to create ideologies that are abstract and were not seen before the times of their creation. We also thought up three points about how memory can be used to develop knowledge. The first point is that it helps us to connect events using our memories, the second is that history is based on memory, recounts and documentation and the last point is that much of indigenous knowledge is based on memory.

The second part of this reflection will discuss the prompt “despite the imperfections of imagination and memory as ways of knowing, the Areas of Knowledge have developed in such as way as to overcome them”. In relation to the area of knowledge of mathematics, I believe that this prompt is true as I feel that the only limitations to the development of knowledge in mathematics is the lack of basic mathematical knowledge, as complex mathematics even in more abstract cases is a combination of usually much simpler formulas or rules, and imagination and memory can only help in the pursuit of knowledge in mathematics. If one was to look at this prompt through the lens of natural sciences, I again believe that the imperfections of imagination and memory would not impact the development of knowledge and would assist with it, if anything. 

TOK Blog Post: Language

This past TOK class we worked on exploring the WOK (way of knowing) of language and engaged in several activities which cause us to think about how language is used to manipulate and also to help in ones understanding of a certain concept or topic. The prompt for the reflection on this class is “The vagueness and ambiguity of language always limits the production of knowledge”.

I would have to say that I disagree with this prompt, as I believe that it is very unclear in what it is trying to say. I would argue that language is not always vague, and certainly cannot always be looked at as having ambiguity especially if it is being used in an appropriate context. I also don’t think that language limits the production of knowledge, as I believe that in areas of knowledge such as mathematics, concisely stated language can enhance the production of knowledge. During the MYP we had to complete pattern assessments in math, and in these the goal was to be concise and effective in your explanations, and this is an example of how language can be used to enhance the production of knowledge in quite a simple way. Another AOK in which language can be used to enhance the production of knowledge would be in History, where how things are written and interpreted is one of the main factors in developing knowledge in this AOK.

TOK Reflection: Reason

During the last TOK class, we spent our time exploring the WOK (way of knowing) of Reason. The prompt for this reflection is: Pure logic is only concerned with the structure of arguments. The validity of an argument is independent of the truth or falsity of its premises.

I think that I would have to agree with this statement as I believe that logic is based on if your argument actually makes sense and is coherent. This means that an argument based on logic must be well structured, it is logical even if it is not at all correct based on fact. An example of how this would work in relation to an AOK would be in history. An argument based on an issue such as the cause of the second world war, for example, could easily be logical but may contradict known facts. The argument may contain information that is related but untrue, and because it is well structured, it could be viewed as logical. I also agree that for an argument to be valid it must be correct on the facts that are presented throughout it. I also believe that an argument can be logical, but invalid, but cannot be valid and not logical. This is because valid arguments must be factually correct and well structured, where as, as mentioned previously, an argument can be logical but be invalid.

TOK Reflection: Emmotion

For today’s TOK post class reflection, we have been giving the prompt ethical problems are created because people get too attached to their point of view. Without emotion, the world would be a more moral place. In response to this, we have to state why this statement makes sense, and also a counter to this statement. This is similar to activities we have done today in class about how emotion impacts our way of thinking and knowing in different Areas of Knowledge (AOKs).

I think that this statement makes sense when we look at it from the perspective of most of the issues that we are currently facing in the world. I personally believe that without emotion we wouldn’t really have our own points of view, and therefore conflicts between people who are disagreeing over things like religion or even over issues related to racism would not exist. Also, I believe that biases would not be present in historical accounts or in a current news article because people would not have any emotional allegiance to any cause or any side of an argument/confronation. All of these perceptions of mine would lead to this planet being a much more “moral” place, however there is a counter argument, which is that without emotion, there would actually be no morals and people would be driven to commit horrible acts without remorse in order to combat an issue such as over population, if you understand what I mean. This was the example that my TOK teacher gave for why this statement does not make sense, and I believe this is the best possible counter argument for this claim. I honestly believe that there are positives and negatives if one was to have this mentality, as with any idea, and that is the conclusion that I would like to make in this post.

TOK Reflection 3: Sense Perception

For this TOK post class blog post, we must discuss the claim that “Even though there are problems with our perceptual systems, this doesn’t mean that knowledge gained from our senses is completely unreliable” in relation to one of the Areas of Knowledge (AOK)  that we have been exposed to so far in this course. 

I think that the WOK of sense perception relates best to the AOK of art because art, in my opinion, is all about how we perceive a work as being a well-made artwork, whether that is because of a combination of colours that it includes or because of the style. In class, we discussed the concept that the colours that we see are perceptions that our brain makes based on the rays of light that reflect off objects, and that a table that is blue to us may not actually be blue in reality. This conversation I thought was mind blowing as I had never thought of our world in this way, and honestly, at first, I tried to shut it out as this reality is one that doesn’t easily make sense to me. I think that the claim in the prompt for this is “correct” as there is no way that everything we see and experience through our senses such as our eyes and our ears is unreliable. I believe that to humans, in most cases except for when it is in relation to an optical illusion, the information we process through our eyes in reliable. It may be different for other species, but to us this information is reliable.

TOK Blog Post 2: Intro to WOKs

In the IB subject of TOK (theory of knowledge), a WOK is a way of knowing. There are 8 different ways of knowing, reason, sense perception, emotion, faith, intuition, imagination, memory, and language. Ways of knowing can be applied to different areas of knowledge in TOK, and I think one combination of an AOK and WOK that definitely works together would be reason and mathematics. I believe that reason and the area of knowledge of mathematics go hand in hand as reason is defined as using particular observations and reasons to justify and make general conclusions, which is exactly what is done in maths when working with patterns or when even doing normal math problems. Inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning can both be applied to mathematics, with inductive reasoning relating more to patterns problems, and deductive reasoning would definitely apply more to problems such as completing the square in quadratics.

Mathematics does not cover as wide of a range of topics like an area of knowledge like the human sciences would, so it definitely doesn’t have as much of an ability to guard against the fallibilities of the WOK reason. Rationality (or using reason) can often be based on what we have been exposed to or what we have experienced in our life times, and in math, the fact that problems are based on numbers and no other outside features prevents there from being influences from the more “biased” side of rational decisions. This is an example of how the fallibilities of using reason to make decisions that relate to this AOK.

TOK Class 1: Knowledge and Explaining

The question that we have been provided for this first Theory of Knowledge class is: With reference to the class activity today about knowing and explaining, in what ways might it be reasonable to suggest that people who disagree can both be right?

In class today we looked at an activity which was based around the quote “If you cannot explain something to someone else, you do not know it” and we had to think about this quote using the different areas of knowledge such as maths and history. These two areas of knowledge are what my partner and I looked at in relation to the quote we were given to comment on. I honestly found this activity very difficult because I felt that each area of knowledge was too broad to make a clear response to this quote. Each area of knowledge combines so many different ideologies as well as was of learning and knowing that in some cases, people may not be able to explain the roots of a piece of information or a technique, but will still understand and know this information or be able to apply that certain technique. We had a long discussion in class talking about this quote and our interpretations, and also different ways that one can “know”. An idea came up in this discussion that was can we really know something, or is it our perception of events or information that makes up what we believe that we know. In terms of the question we have been given for this reflection, I think that the exercise shows that it might be reasonable to suggest that people who disagree can both be right as what they are thinking could be right to them or a certain group of people, who perceive this idea as being what they know and therefore right to them, where as others would disagree for the same reason. I think that what you “know” is definitely based on your experiences and background, a reason why some may suggest that people who disagree could both be right, as it could depend on who’s perspective you look at the situation from.

 

MYP Service as Action

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Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to be involved in 2 different service projects. The first service project that I took part in was in Sulawesi in Indonesia. The trip I was on lasted 2 weeks, and we were in the jungle one week and diving for the other reef while helping scientists from an

The first service project that I took part in was in Sulawesi in Indonesia. The trip I was on lasted 2 weeks, and we were in the jungle one week and diving for the other reef while helping scientists from an organisation help to conduct research that will strive to help the Indonesian government to start protecting certain parts of Sulawesi benefiting both the environment and the people. While in the jungle we were out deep in the jungle for most of the time assisting the scientists in their research, but also helped to teach little locals kids English in one of the nearby villages. While diving on the reefs the research being conducted was to measure the impact of fishing and to try and give reasons for tighter fishing regulations to try to preserve the populations of fish in the area which will again benefit both the ecosystem and the local people.

The second opportunity to engage in service as action that I had in this year was over CAS week in Fiji. For two days we were at a local school close to the city of Nadi helping out to build walkways between buildings to help keep the children dry during the torrential rains that often come in that part of Fiji. We worked alongside members of the local community while building these covered walkways and this was a very rewarding and also enjoyable experience!

Seven Learning Outcomes:

  1. Throughout these opportunities to participate in service projects, I became aware of my own strengths and areas of growth through the teamwork and communication required to complete these activities and also the hard work required to complete service projects in a way that will be positively impactful for the community you are trying to help.
  2. Both service projects were physically and mentally demanding and I was able to enhance my collaboration and communication skills as both were group activities that required good teamwork in order to be completed successfully.
  3. The activity that I did with the school children in Indonesia was completely planned out by myself and others on my trip, and this would be evidence of how I planned a student initiated activity.
  4. I persevered in action by putting myself in situations where I did not have proper sanitation or comfortable living space, like in the jungle in Indonesia, in order to complete the project I was participating in.
  5. As previously mentioned, both of these projects were group projects and therefore I had to constantly be working collaboratively with other to complete them.
  6. I developed international mindedness through my interactions with local people both in Fiji as well as Indonesia, and also when working with a school from Taiwan on the project in Indonesia.
  7. We were given permission and even helped by the locals in all the tasks we were completing, and all were done for free as well in order to assist the local communities where we were working.