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International

Baccalaureate
Africa/Europe/Middle East
Theory of knowledge
TOK for Subject Teachers
Category 3
Emirates National School - Abu Dhabi
City Campus
September 2013
English
Rémy Lamon & Declan Alvaro

© International Baccalaureate Organization 2012





© International Baccalaureate Organization 2012


Teacher Training Workshop


This workbook is intended for use by a participant at an IB-approved workshop. It
contains several types of material: material that was created and published by the
IB, material that was prepared by the workshop leader and third-party copyright
material.

Following the workshop, participants who wish to provide information or non-
commercial in-school training to teachers in their school may use the IB-copyright
material (including student work) and material identified as the work of the
workshop leader unless this is specifically prohibited.

The IB is committed to fostering academic honesty and respecting others’
intellectual property. To this end, the organization must comply with international
copyright laws and therefore has obtained permission to reproduce and/or translate
any materials used in this publication for which a third party owns the intellectual
property. Acknowledgments are included where appropriate. Workshop
participants may not use any of the material in this workbook that is identified as
being the intellectual property of a third party for any purpose unless expressly
stated. In all other cases permission must be sought from the copyright holder
before making use of such material.

Permission must be sought from the IB by emailing copyright@ibo.org for any use of
IB material which is different from that described above or those uses permitted
under the rules and policy for use of IB intellectual property
(http://www.ibo.org/copyright/intellectualproperty.cfm).

Permission granted to any supplier or publisher to exhibit at an IB-approved
workshop does not imply endorsement by the IB.





© International Baccalaureate Organization 2012



The IB mission statement

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and
caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through
intercultural understanding and respect.
To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international
organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and
rigorous assessment.
These programmes encourage students across the world to become active,
compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their
differences, can also be right.















Agenda 7
TOK for Subject Teachers: Objectives 8
IB Learner Profile 9
Changes to the Aims and Objectives in TOK 10
AOK Diagrammes: Knowledge Framework 11
AOK Diagrammes: Ideas for lessons 19
What is Science for? 35
Three Views on Religious Knowledge Systems 47
01: What good are schools? 48
03: Letters from an Indian judge to an English
gentlewoman
52
04: Exercises on meaning 55
06: Language and symbolism 58

© International Baccalaureate Organization 2012

Workbook contents








07: Words and not words 61
10: Thinking logically 64
11: Routes of mathematical knowledge 68
12: Is math for real? 71
13: Numbers and numerals 76
14: A show of hands 80
15: Myths and fairy tales 82
16: Why was Thales wrong? 85
17: One person’s hypothesis is another person’s
dogma ...
90
18: Scientific claims: an African perspective 94
19: The growth of scientific knowledge 98
20: Webs of explanation 104

© International Baccalaureate Organization 2012




21: Atmospheric and group pressure 109
22: A cultural "Rorschach test" 114
24: The art critic 118
25: Songs and poems 121
26: Judgement and choice 123
28: Third world blues 129
29: Accident - or knowledge? 131
TOK Exemplar essay P without marks 135
TOK Exemplar essay Q without marks 141
TOK Exemplar essay R without marks 146
Bibliography for TOK 153

© International Baccalaureate Organization 2012



WorkshopLeaderAgenda
ClusterWorkshops-PYP&DPCategories1&3ENSAbuDhabi
CityCampus,AbuDhabi,UAE,13–14September2013

Workshop:TOKforSubjectTeachers
Workshopleader:RémyLamon&DeclanAlvaro
Program:DP
Category:3
Targetaudience:Subjectteachers

Day1 Time Agendapersession
Session1 08.30–10.15 Introduction:TOK-waysofknowing-areasof
knowledge
Coffeebreak 10.15–10.30
Session2 10.30–12.30 Sharedknowledgevs.personalknowledge
Lunch 12.30–13.30
Session3 13.30–15.30 Knowledgeclaimandknowledgequestions
Coffeebreak 15.30–15.45
Session4 15.45–17.30 Waysofknowing:reason,emotion,intuition

Day2 Time Agendapersession
Session5 08.30–10.15 Waysofknowing:language,senseperception
Coffeebreak 10.15–10.30
Session6 10.30–12.30 Waysofknowing:imagination,memory,faith
Lunch 12.30–13.30
Session7 13.30–15.30 HowcantheTOKclasshelpmyteachinginmy
subjectclass?
Coffeebreak 15.30–15.45
Session8 15.45–17.30 HowcanIuseTOKtodevelopgoodquality
curriculumplanningandclassroompractice?

Materialparticipantsshouldbringtothisworkshop:
Subjectguides
TOKguide
LabTop/iPadifyoupossessone

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TOK for Subject Teachers: Objectives


Workshop objectives include:

To become familiar with the role that TOK can have in my subject

To address the challenges facing subject teachers with TOK

To give some ideas how to start a topic through various activities

To create an enthusiastic atmosphere in a TOK based class

To share best practices



Source for this picture: http://myplace.frontier.com/~matt.hiefield/id4.html


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IB learner profile booklet 5
The IB learner profile
The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common
humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.
IB learners strive to be:
Inquirers They develop their natural curiosity. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct
inquiry and research and show independence in learning. They actively enjoy
learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.
Knowledgeable They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance.
In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding
across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.
Thinkers They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively
to recognize and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical
decisions.
Communicators They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively
in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They
work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.
Principled They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and
respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take
responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany
them.
Open-minded They understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and
are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and
communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points
of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.
Caring They show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of
others. They have a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive
difference to the lives of others and to the environment.
Risk-takers They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and
forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas
and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.
Balanced They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance
to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.
Reflective They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They
are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to
support their learning and personal development.
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TOK Aims & Objectives Comparison
2008 2015
AIMS

New
Reworded
Deleted

1. Develop a fascination with the richness of knowledge as a human
endeavour, and an understanding of the empowerment that follows
from reflecting upon it
2. Develop an awareness of how knowledge is constructed, critically
examined, evaluated and renewed, by communities and individuals
3. Encourage students to reflect on their experiences as learners, in
everyday life and in the Diploma Programme, and to make
connections between academic disciplines and between thoughts,
feelings and actions
4. Encourage an interest in the diversity of ways of thinking and ways
of living of individuals and communities, and an awareness of
personal and ideological assumptions, including participants’own
5. Encourage consideration of the responsibilities originating from the
relationship between knowledge, the community and the individual
as citizen of the world.
1. Make connections between a critical approach to the
construction of knowledge, the academic disciplines and
the wider world
2. Develop an awareness of how individuals and
communities construct knowledge and how this is
critically examined (Old guide #2)
3. Develop an interest in the diversity and richness of
cultural perspectives and an awareness of personal and
ideological assumptions (old guide #1 & 4)
4. Critically reflect on their own beliefs and assumptions,
leading to more thoughtful, responsible and purposeful
lives (Old guide #3
5. Understand that knowledge brings responsibility which
leads to commitment and action. (Old guide #5)
OBJECTIVES 1. Analyse critically knowledge claims, their underlying assumptions
and their implications
2. Generate questions, explanations, conjectures, hypotheses,
alternative ideas and possible solutions in response to knowledge
issues concerning areas of knowledge, ways of knowing and
students’ own experience as learners
3. Demonstrate an understanding of different perspectives on
knowledge issues
4. Draw links and make effective comparisons between different
approaches to knowledge issues that derive from areas of
knowledge, ways of knowing, theoretical positions and cultural
values
5. Demonstrate an ability to give a personal, self-aware response to a
knowledge issue
6. Formulate and communicate ideas clearly with due regard for
accuracy and academic honesty
1. Identify and analyse the various kinds of justifications
used to support knowledge claims (old guide #1)
2. Formulate, evaluate and attempt to answer knowledge
questions
3. Examine how academic disciplines/areas of knowledge
generate and shape knowledge
4. Understand the roles played by ways of knowing in the
construction of shared and personal knowledge
5. Explore links between knowledge claims, knowledge
questions, ways of knowing and areas of knowledge (old
guide #4)
6. Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of different
perspectives and be able to relate these to one’s own
perspective (Old guide #3)
7. Explore real-life/contemporary issues from a TOK
perspective.

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Mathematics
knowledge framework
scope/applications
mathematics concerned with quantity,
shape, space and change - difficult to
define
used to create models in the natural and human sciences
the possibility of a mathematical treatment
is taken by many to be the sign of
intellectual rigour - for example in
economics or pyschology
possesses qualities such as beauty and
elegance - sometimes thought of as an
artform
seems to be broadly universal and not
tied to a particular culture
mathematical truths seem to be certain and timeless
language
uses a precisely defined set of symbols
standing for abstract things like sets and
relations
key terms such as axiom, deduction rule,
conjecture, theorem, proof
methodology
uses pure reason from axioms to produce
proofs of mathematical theorems
a statement in mathematics is true if and
only if it is proved
mathematics does not seem to rely on
sense perception of the world
mathematicians require intuition and
imagination in order to prove theorems
historical development
seminal developments such as negative
or irrational numbers have led to big
changes in the way we view the world
numbers and geometry particularly
important in historical development of
other fields such as painting, architecture
and music
links to personal knowledge
maths ability often taken to be a proxy for
intelligence with consequences for
individual self-esteem
much scope for major contributions to
mathematics by talented individuals who
cannot always explain the source of their
insights often ascribing them to intuition,
imagination or emotion
Knowledge questions
there is sometimes an uneasy fit between
mathematical descriptions and the world:
'I have four cows and then take away five
of them. How many are there left?'
is mathematics invented or discovered?
if mathematics is an abstract intellectual
game (like chess) then why is it so good
at describing the world?
If mathematics is 'out there' in the world
then where exactly can it be found?
Why should elegance or beauty be
relevant to mathematical value?
If mathematics is created by man how
come we feel answerable to mathematical
truths? For example that there are ian
infinite number of prime numbers seems
to be an objective fact about the world
rather than something constructed by
human beings
Possible topics of study
simple mathematical proofs
mathematical games/puzzles
mathematics and beauty - fractal
geometries and mathematics in nature
possible skills students should be able to...
recognise characteristic mathematical reasoning
link mathematical certainty to its proof
methods and lack of dependence on
observation
120309 mathematics 3 (2).mmap - 2012-03-09 - Mindjet
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Natural Sciences
Knowledge framework
Scope/applications
natural science is a system of knowledge
of the natural world largely based on
observation and constructed using
reason and imagination
the sciences are shared knowledge -
often shared by a large grouping
geographically spread and largely
independent of culture
Prediction is often an important feature of
scientific knowledge but understanding is
also a prime purpose
natural science is interested in producing
generalised statements about the natural
world, principles or scientific laws
Most of these laws are causal: If event A
happens then B will happen as a result
language
Many of the laws of the natural sciences
are stated using the language of
mathematics - maths is central.
language of the sciences is precise in
order to eliminate ambiguity which might
affect the reasoning process
Methods of the natural sciences
Measurement involves interaction with the
world which changes it
models are important in most areas of the natural sciences
classification is a central idea in many of
the Natural Sciences
among the methods employed by the
natural sciences are:
hypothesis-deduction and induction - use
of reason and sense perception
historical development
there have been a number of pivotal shifts
of thinking in the development of the
natural sciences
links to personal knowledge
the natural sciences give us a view of
ourselves as material entities behaving
according to universal laws
perhaps little space here to see ourselves
as rational, free agents with desires and
the ability to choose
individuals have contributed to scientific
progress - often in revolutionary ways
use of Imagination, intuition and
emotion in creation of hypotheses
Knowledge Questions
what is it about the methods of the natural
sciences that make their findings arguably
more reliable than other areas of
knowledge?
Given the problems associated with the
inductive process (going from the
particular to the general) how is it that
science can be reliable?
How can classification itself yield
knowledge without anything else being
added?
How does one know in advance which
factors (to measure, say) will be relevant
to the final explanation?
How can one decide when one
model/explanation/theory is better than
another?
How can numerical results be interpreted
in a substantially non numerical world?
How can we build understanding about
the world independent of the human act
of measuring it?
How can it be that scientific knowledge
changes over time?
How can we know cause and effect
relationships given that one can only ever
observe correlation?
possible study topics
hypothetico-deductive method
the problem of induction
Popper's principle of falsification as an
attempt to solve the problem of induction
Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions
possible skills
students should be able to...
build simple models or make simple
generalisations (based on artificial
examples)
Evaluate and critique models in a range of
different situations
relate examples of each item under
'Understanding' and 'Knowledge' to a
actual example from their sciences
classes in the IB
distinguish what it is that makes the
sciences 'scientific'
120309 natural sciences 3 (2).mmap - 2012-03-09 - Mindjet
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13/155
History
Knowledge framework
scope/applications
the study of the recorded past
helps make sense of the present
knowledge shared by group to help
produce a sense of a common heritage
perhaps allows us in a limited way to
envisage possible futures
language
narrative style appropriate for the purpose of
understanding the past
designed for understanding possibly at an
emotional level rather than strict objective
disinterest
Methodology
use of contemporary documents as fixed
points of historical theory
historical theory being constructed out of
the available evidence by reason and
imagination
Issues of selection and interpretation of source material
Issues of reliability of first hand accounts -
memoryand observation affected by
interests and expectation
history seems to presuppose a theory of
human action. For example the view of
history as being shaped by the action of
individuals as opposed to say the idea of
history as the playing out of class
struggles or of a zeitgeist
an explanation in history is a plausible
theory that explains the relevant source
material and fits other accepted theories
historical development
present preoccupations tend to affect the
study of past events
history itself looked different in the past
links to personal knowledge
understanding one's history gives a very
clear sense of personal identity
history tends to be constructed through
the interaction of individual historians -
there less emphasis on collaborative work
than in the natural sciences
Knowledge questions
is it possible for historical writing to be free from perspective?
How does an historian assess the
reliability of her sources?
How can one gauge the extent to which a
history is told from a particular cultural or
national perspective?
What is the relation between the style of
language used and the history written?
What is a fact in history?
How can historical accounts be assessed?
What distinguishes a better historical
account from a worse one?
possible topics for study
different accounts of the same event by
different historians
examples of different ways in which
history can be written
comparison of present and past ways of writing history
examples of the importance of national or
cultural backgrounds in writing history
possible skills
students should be able to...
describe the role of interpretation of
source material in the writing of history
describe the difference between history
and historical fiction
120309 history (2).mmap - 2012-03-09 - Mindjet
14/155
The arts
Knowledge framework
scope/application
the arts perform some sort of social function
the arts as a means of shaping belief
role of society in determining what is art
importance of the local cultural dimension
in defining value in the arts
artforms are based on sense perception
the arts might be an instrument of social transformation
language/concepts
role of language and convention in the arts
language of an artform is often
non-verbal - frees the arts from being
limited to propositional knowledge
Methodology
artistic creation is often a result of
personal knowledge requiring
imagination and creativity
creativity requires imagination taking
place within a framework often using
reason
art often requires interaction with an
audience which is often emotional
Relation between art and technology -
new technologies spawn new artforms:
film, computer art, computer music for
example
Historical development
conventions and values in the arts change over time
importance of historical development of an artform in
making sense of its present form
links to personal knowledge
relation between the artwork and the artist
is often emotional
art can contribute to a view of self
art can shape an individual's view of the world
Knowledge questions
Are the arts a system of knowledge?
If artworks are products of the imagination
of the artist how is it that they constitute a
system of knowledge?
what is the relation between the artist and the artwork?
Is the aesthetic value of an artwork purely
a subjective matter?
what is the importance of form in an artwork?
Does art enlarge what it is possible to think?
Is it possible that aesthetic value is at its
base something universal - a fact about
human beings?
possible topics for study
Artworks have been used to affect the
beliefs of individuals and groups.
Examples are advertising, political
propaganda, film and social structures,
literature and politics, literature and social
criticism, national songs, folksongs and
dance.
the arts as a vehicle for social critique
Examples of artforms changing over time,
along with criteria for deciding what is
good art
Examples of artforms that are clearly
rooted in local culture and traditions
Examples of possible candidates for universal art
Examples to illustrate each item under
'knowledge framework'
possible skills
students should be able to...
analyse the possible ways in which art
and knowledge are related
criticise platitudes such as 'art is merely
the expression of the emotions of the
artist' or 'aesthetic value is purely
subjective'
identify examples of rule systems adopted
by particular artforms or particular artists
in order to be creative
120309 the arts 3.mmap - 2012-03-09 - Mindjet
15/155
Ethics
Knowledge framework
scope/applications
morality is often regarded as concerned
with praiseworthy or blameworthy reasons
for action
ethics more generally concerned with
answering the question 'what should one
do?'
moral values seem to be distinct from
other sorts of value in that they produce
obligations to action
an ethical viewpoint seems to imply that
the individual takes the interests of others
into consideration as well as her own
language
categories: acts that are prohibited,
permitted or required
'what should one do?' might be a different
question to 'what is one morally obliged to
do?'
general requirement for ethical judgments
to be universalisable - so they have a
public dimension almost by definition
rights seem to be goods that the group is
obliged to provide for the individual - so
each right claimed carries a
corresponding obligation
moral language contains an inbuilt
requirement for action
methodology
taking an ethical framework as a starting
point and reasoning from general
principles to the specific situation
extracting morally significant aspects
using reason from the perception of the
current situation
ethical principles can be refined by
checking them against our moral
intuitions
our moral intuitions can be refined by
checking them against ethical principles
consequentialist ethics requires
imagining consequences of an action
and evaluating them
historical development
the nature of ethical thought might have
changed somewhat from that held by
Greek thinkers of the 4th century BCE
perhaps the emphasis now is less on
virtues and more on rights
links to personal knowledge
moral obligations require action. so
morality obviously impacts on the
individual
why should living a moral life matter?
is living an moral life a question of
having the right character?
one might be guided by emotion and
intuition but moral judgments seem to
be more than simple expressions of
personal preference
knowledge questions
In what sense can ethics be regarded as
a system of knowledge?
How are conflicts between different ethical
systems resolved?
To what extent might lack of knowledge
be an excuse for unethical conduct?
To what extent might possession of
knowledge carry with it moral obligations?
possible topics of study
Utilitarian ethics
Deontological ethics
Virtue ethics
possible skills the student should be able to ...
put together simple ethical arguments
be able to discuss examples such as the trolley problems
distinguish ethical judgments from those
that are not ethical
120309 Ethics 3 (2).mmap - 2012-03-09 - Mindjet
16/155
Religious knowledge
knowledge framework
scope applications
attempts to explain the meaning and purpose of life
incorporates a diverse range of systems
from polytheism to pantheism
language
difficulties in using human language to
describe the divine
importance of analogy and metaphor
language shifts: oral to written, latin to vernacular
conventions: authority of scripture in many
systems, leaders and authority figures
key concepts: faith, miracles, God(s), revelation
methodology
argumentation - use of reason
interpretation
revelation - use of
sense perception(?)
authority
value on faith
historical development
debates betweeen literal/fundamentalist,
conservative and liberal approaches
impact of scientific knowledge
language developments leading to wider developments
links to personal knowledge
understanding of the self - personal views
on life after death, personal moral
decision-making
emotion al element in religious belief
attitudes and behaviour to others
founding figures: Muhammed
spiritual leaders: Dalai Lama
individuals who have changed the course
of religious history such as Martin Luther
role of collaboration - community element:
ummah in Islam, evangelism and religious
pluralism
knowledge questions
What is the difference between religious
feelings, religious beliefs and religious
faith?
Is it possible to know God?
Are religious beliefs reasonable?
Is faith irrational?
"No sentence which purports to describe
the nature of a god can possess any
literal significance" (A.J.Ayer). What
makes religious language so challenging?
Where do religious beliefs come from?
Can you think of any evidence which
would convince you that God does not
exist?
Is religious knowledge an example of
knowledge which is beyond the realm of
science?
what is the value of thinking about
questions to which there are no definite
answers?
How do we decide between the
competing claims of different religious
knowledge systems?
possible topics of study
arguments for and against the existence of God
religious language
religion and the search for truth - God of the gaps
miracles
analogy of love
religious pluralism
possible skills
the student should be able to ...
understand that systems of religious
knowledge are concerned with questions
of meaning and purpose
appreciate the role of faith and belief in
religious knowledge systems and be
aware of the disagreements over how
faith should be understood
appreciate the ways in which a person's
religious beliefs might affect their
understanding of other areas of
knowledge
120227 systems of religious knowledge.mmap - 2012-03-09 - Mindjet
17/155
Indigenous
knowledge
knowledge framework
scope/applications
attempts to explain the nature and
existence of humanity for a particular
group of human beings
incorperates a diverse range of systems
including Inuits, Aymara Indians in Bolivia,
Romani people....
language
role of language in the knowledge system
for example storytelling
use of metaphor and analogies
maintaining traditions through written language
oral traditions dying because they are not written down
Conventions: role of elders, importance of
group over individual
key concepts: nomad, concept of home,
honour, ownership
methodology
oral tradition handing down through the
generations - role of memory
ritual - shared emotion
folklore
music
artefacts
systems of reason
explaining observed natural phenomena
as being part of a total worldview - role of
sense perception
historical development
impact of colonialisation and globalisation
links to personal knowledge
understanding the self - ancestry, place in
the world, attitudes and behaviour to
others
elders personally contributing to the form
of the knowledge system
collaboration: the enactment of ritual and
tradition gives the possibility through a
group effort of reinforcing the system of
knowledge
ancestral knowledge linked to the personal
knowledge questions
How reliable are the 'oral traditions' in
preserving cultural heritage in indigenous
knowledge systems?
To what extent does the fact that early
literature on indigenous knowledge
systems was written from a
non-indigenous perspective affect its
credibility?
How does sense perception play a
fundamental role in the acquisition of
knowledge in indigenous knowledge
systems?
What elements of universal significance
may we discern in indigenous knowledge
systems?
To what extent can disinformation by
education and governance threaten
indigenous knowledge systems?
possible topics of study
The nature and role of artefacts
Cycles and changes in the earth and sky
specific plant and animal behaviour
the impact of technology on the
relationship between indigenous peoples
and their environment
possible skills
the student should be able to ...
Explain the role of faith in preserving
indigenous culture
compare the holistic view of indigenous
knowledge with the compartmentalised
view of western knowledge
appreciate the use of metaphor and story
to explain life in indigenous knowledge
systems
120309 indigenous knowledge (2).mmap - 2012-03-09 - Mindjet
18/155
Scope/applications
- mathematlcs concerned wlth quantlty, shape, space and change÷dlmcult to deñne
- used to create models ln the natural and human sclences
- the posslblllty of a mathematlcal treatment ls taken by many to be the slgn of
lntellectual rlgour÷for example, ln economlcs or pyschology
- possesses qualltles such as beauty and elegance÷sometlmes thought of as an art form
- seems to be broadly unlversal and not tled to a partlcular culture
- mathematlcal truths seem to be certaln and tlmeless
Knowledge framework
- uses a preclsely deñned set of symbols standlng for abstract thlngs llke sets and relatlons
- key terms such as axlom, deductlon rule, con[ecture, theorem, proof
- uses pure reason from axloms to produce proofs of mathematlcal theorems
- a statement ln mathematlcs ls true lf and only lf lt ls proved
- mathematlcs does not seem to rely on sense perceptlon of the world
- mathematlclans requlre lntultlon and lmaglnatlon ln order to prove theorems
Language
Methodology
- semlnal developments such as negatlve or lrratlonal numbers have led to blg changes ln
the way we vlew the world
- numbers and geometry partlcularly lmportant ln hlstorlcal development of
- other ñelds such as palntlng, archltecture and muslc
Hlstorlcal development
- maths ablllty often taken to be a proxy for lntelllgence wlth consequences for lndlvldual
self-esteem
- much scope for ma[or contrlbutlons to mathematlcs by talented lndlvlduals who cannot
always explaln the source of thelr lnslghts often ascrlblng them to lntultlon, lmaglnatlon
or emotlon
Llnks to personal
knowledge
Knowledge
questlons
19/155
Lxamples of posslble toplcs of study
Slmple
mathematlcal
proofs
why ls there sometlmes an uneasy ñt between mathematlcal
descrlptlons and the world! (Por example, "| have four cows and
then take away ñve of them. How many are there leftIª)
|s mathematlcs lnvented or dlscoveredI
|f mathematlcs ls an abstract lntellectual game (llke chess) then
why ls lt so good at descrlblng the worldI
|f mathematlcs ls created by man how come we feel answerable
to mathematlcal truthsI Por example that there are an lnñnlte
number of prlme numbers seems to be an ob[ectlve fact about
the world rather than somethlng constructed by human belngs.
|f mathematlcs ls "out thereª ln the world then where exactly can
lt be foundI
why should elegance or beauty be relevant to mathematlcal
valueI
Knowledge
questlons
8eauty and
elegance ln
mathematics
Axloms and
the re[ectlon of
the axlomatlc
approach
Mathematlcs ln
nature
20/155
Scope/applications
- natural sclence ls a system of knowledge of the natural world largely based on
observatlon and constructed uslng reason and lmaglnatlon
- the sclences are shared knowledge, often shared by a large grouplng geographlcally
spread and largely lndependent of culture
- predlctlon ls often an lmportant feature of sclentlñc knowledge but understandlng ls
also a prlme purpose
- natural sclences are lnterested ln produclng generallzed statements about the natural
world, prlnclples or sclentlñc laws
- most of these laws are causal: |f event A happens then 8 wlll happen as a result
Knowledge framework
- many of the laws of the natural sclences are stated uslng the language of mathematlcs÷
maths ls central.
- language of the sclences ls preclse ln order to ellmlnate amblgulty whlch mlght anect
the reasonlng process
- measurement lnvolves lnteractlon wlth the world whlch changes lt
- models are lmportant ln most areas of the natural sclences
- classlñcatlon ls a central ldea ln many of the natural sclences
- among the methods employed by the natural sclences are:
- hypothesls-deductlon and lnductlon÷use of reason and sense perceptlon
Language
Methodology
- there have been a number of plvotal shlfts of thlnklng ln the development of the natural
sciences
Hlstorlcal development
- the natural sclences glve us a vlew of ourselves as materlal entltles behavlng accordlng
to unlversal laws
- perhaps llttle space here to see ourselves as ratlonal, free agents wlth deslres and the
ablllty to choose
- lndlvlduals have contrlbuted to sclentlñc progress, often ln revolutlonary ways
- use of |maglnatlon, lntultlon and emotlon ln creatlon of hypotheses
Llnks to personal
knowledge
Knowledge
questlons
21/155
Lxamples of posslble toplcs of study
The problem of
lnductlon
Glven the problems assoclated wlth the lnductlve process
(golng from the partlcular to the general), how ls lt that
sclence can be rellableI
Knowledge
questlons
Popper and
falslñcatlonlsm
The sclentlñc
method
Sclentlñc
revolutlons and
paradlgm shlfts
How does one know ln advance whlch factors (to measure, say)
wlll be relevant to the ñnal explanatlonI
How can one declde when one model/explanatlon/theory ls
better than anotherI
How can numerlcal results be lnterpreted ln a substantlally non-
numerlcal worldI
How can we bulld understandlng about the world lndependent
of the human act of measurlng ltI
How can lt be that sclentlñc knowledge changes over tlmeI
How can we know cause and enect relatlonshlps glven that one
can only ever observe correlatlonI
22/155
Scope/applications
- lnvestlgate and understand human behavlour
- lncludes a dlverse range of dlsclpllnes: anthropology, economlcs, psychology, soclology
- some dlsclpllnes alm broadly to predlct human behavlour (economlcs, applled
soclology)
Knowledge framework
- key concepts such as opportunlty cost ln economlcs
- use of mathematlcal language to suggest lntellectual rlgour
- problems of wordlng of questlonnalres and the dlmculty of neutral language
- experlmental method
- use of questlonnalres, polls
- dlrect observatlon of human behavlour
- use of models
- use of reason to construct plauslble theory conslstent wlth other accepted knowledge ln
the ñeld
- some assumptlons of human ratlonallty (economlcs), or lawllke behavlour (psychology)
- use of statlstlcal methods÷on what basls to choose thlngs llke slgnlñcance levels of
testsI
Language
Methodology
- early vlews of economlcs as study of man as a maxlmlzer of utlllty have been replaced by
modern behavloural economlcs whlch sees man as essentlally lrratlonal and heurlstlc
- early ldeas of anthropology as a study ln human progress have been replaced post-8oaz
wlth less value-laden perspectlves
- Preudlan psychodynamlcs have been replaced by a drlve towards emplrlcal observatlon
of behavlour ln modern functlonal theorles ln psychology
Hlstorlcal development
- understandlng of self as a locus of consclousness, as an economlc agent or as an
lndlvldual deñned relatlve to a soclal background
- slgnlñcant contrlbutlons made by lndlvlduals ln all ñelds: Smlth, Plcardo, Keynes,
Prledmann ln economlcs, 8oaz ln anthropology, Preud, watson ln psychology
- modern economlcs and psychology are more collaboratlve, although anthropology
seems to be more open to lndlvldual contrlbutlons
- to what extent ls lt legltlmate for the lnqulrer to draw upon hls/her own experlences as
evldence ln hls/her lnvestlgatlons ln the human sclences (the verstehen approach)I
- to what extent are personal factors such as gender and age lmportant ln the human
sclencesI
Llnks to personal
knowledge
Knowledge
questlons
23/155
Lxamples of posslble toplcs of study
The relatlonshlp
between the
human sclences
and the natural
sciences
Human sclences are less able to predlct because humans have
free wlll. 8ut human sclences nevertheless try to
establlsh laws of human behavlour. How can thls beI
To what extent are the methods of the human sclences
"sclentlñcªI
Knowledge
questlons
Observatlon and
the enect of the
observer
Polls,
questlonnalres
and leadlng
questlons
Predlctlons, trends
and laws
There are exceptlons to laws ln the human sclences. To what
extent then are these actually lawsI
How can one ellmlnate the enect of the observer belng part of
the system ln the human sclences (see the Hawthorne enect ln
psychology or the ñeld worker belng part of the communlty ln
anthropology)I
|n the verstehen approach, how mlght the emotlons of the
lnvestlgator as ob[ect of study anect the result of the
lnvestlgatlonI
How can one rely on the results from questlonnalres glven the
problems of wordlng, leadlng questlons, sampllng and selectlon
enects and the fact that respondents mlght not elther know the
truth about thelr own lntentlons or lndeed tell ltI
How can we [udge whether one model ls better than anotherI
24/155
Scope/applications
- the study of the recorded past
- helps make sense of the present
- knowledge shared by group to help produce a sense of a common herltage
- perhaps allows us ln a llmlted way to envlsage posslble futures
Knowledge framework
- narratlve style approprlate for the purpose of understandlng the past
- deslgned for understandlng posslbly at an emotlonal level rather than strlct ob[ectlve
dlslnterest
- use of contemporary documents as ñxed polnts of hlstorlcal theory
- hlstorlcal theory belng constructed out of the avallable evldence by reason and
lmaglnatlon
- lssues of selectlon and lnterpretatlon of source materlal
- lssues of rellablllty of ñrst hand accounts÷memory and observatlon are anected by
lnterests and expectatlon
- hlstory seems to presuppose a theory of human actlon. Por example, the vlew of hlstory
as belng shaped by the actlon of lndlvlduals as opposed to the ldea of hlstory as the
playlng out of class struggles or of a zeltgelst
- an explanatlon ln hlstory ls a plauslble theory that explalns the relevant source materlal
and ñts other accepted theorles
Language
Methodology
- present preoccupatlons tend to anect the study of past events
- hlstory ltself looked dlnerent ln the past
Hlstorlcal development
- understandlng one's hlstory glves a clear sense of personal ldentlty
- hlstory tends to be constructed through the lnteractlon of lndlvldual hlstorlans÷there ls
less emphasls on collaboratlve work than ln the natural sclences
Llnks to personal
knowledge
Knowledge
questlons
25/155
Lxamples of posslble toplcs of study
Pellablllty of
sources
|s lt posslble for hlstorlcal wrltlng to be free from perspectlveI
How does a hlstorlan assess the rellablllty of sourcesI
Knowledge
questlons
Ob[ectlvlty ln
hlstory
The relatlonshlp
between hlstory
and the human
sclences
Progress and
patterns ln hlstory
How can one gauge the extent to whlch a hlstory ls told from a
partlcular cultural or natlonal perspectlveI
what ls the relatlon between the style of language used and the
hlstory wrlttenI
what ls a fact ln hlstoryI
How can hlstorlcal accounts be assessedI
what dlstlngulshes a better hlstorlcal account from a worse oneI
26/155
Scope/applications
- the arts perform some sort of soclal functlon
- the arts as a means of shaplng bellef
- role of soclety ln determlnlng what ls art
- lmportance of the local cultural dlmenslon ln deñnlng value ln the arts
- art forms are based on sense perceptlon
- the arts mlght be an lnstrument of soclal transformatlon
Knowledge framework
- role of language and conventlon ln the arts
- language of an art form ls often non-verbal÷frees the arts from belng llmlted to
proposltlonal knowledge
- artlstlc creatlon ls often a result of personal knowledge requlrlng lmaglnatlon and
creatlvlty
- creatlvlty requlres lmaglnatlon taklng place wlthln a framework, often uslng reason
- art often requlres lnteractlon wlth an audlence whlch ls often emotlonal
- relatlonshlp between art and technology÷new technologles spawn new art forms: ñlm,
computer art, computer muslc, for example
Language
Methodology
- conventlons and values ln the arts change over tlme
- lmportance of hlstorlcal development of an art form ln maklng sense of lts present form
Hlstorlcal development
- relatlonshlp between the artwork and the artlst ls often emotlonal
- art can contrlbute to a vlew of self
- art can shape an lndlvldual's vlew of the world
Llnks to personal
knowledge
Knowledge
questlons
27/155
Lxamples of posslble toplcs of study
Art as a vehlcle for
soclal crltlque
Are the arts a system of knowledgeI
|f artworks are products of the lmaglnatlon of the artlst, how ls lt
that they constltute a system of knowledgeI
Knowledge
questlons
Artwork used to
anect the bellefs
of lndlvlduals
and groups
(eg advertlslng,
ñlm, llterature,
folksongs)
Art forms that are
strongly rooted
ln a partlcular
culture or
tradltlon
Art and morallty
(eg Plefnestahl,
Klrkup)
what ls the relatlonshlp between the artlst and the artworkI
|s the aesthetlc value of an artwork purely a sub[ectlve matterI
what ls the lmportance of form ln an artworkI
Does art enlarge what lt ls posslble to thlnkI
|s lt posslble that aesthetlc value ls at lts base somethlng
unlversal÷a fact about human belngsI
28/155
Scope/applications
- morallty ls often regarded as concerned wlth pralseworthy or blameworthy reasons for
action
- ethlcs more generally concerned wlth answerlng the questlon "what should one doIª
- moral values seem to be dlstlnct from other sorts of value ln that they produce
obllgatlons to actlon
- an ethlcal vlewpolnt seems to lmply that the lndlvldual takes the lnterests of others lnto
conslderatlon as well as her own
Knowledge framework
- categorles: acts that are prohlblted, permltted or requlred
- "what should one doIª mlght be a dlnerent questlon to "what ls one morally obllged to
doIª
- general requlrement for ethlcal [udgments to be unlversallzable÷so they have a publlc
dlmenslon almost by deñnltlon
- rlghts seem to be goods that the group ls obllged to provlde for the lndlvldual÷so each
rlght clalmed carrles a correspondlng obllgatlon
- moral language contalns an lnbullt requlrement for actlon
- taklng an ethlcal framework as a startlng polnt and reasonlng from general prlnclples to
a speclñc sltuatlon
- extractlng morally slgnlñcant aspects uslng reason from the perceptlon of the current
sltuatlon
- ethlcal prlnclples can be reñned by checklng them agalnst our moral lntultlons
- our moral lntultlons can be reñned by checklng them agalnst ethlcal prlnclples
- consequentlallst ethlcs requlres lmaglnlng consequences of an actlon and evaluatlng
them
Language
Methodology
- the nature of ethlcal thought mlght have changed somewhat from that held by Greek
thlnkers of the 4th century 8CL
- perhaps the emphasls now ls less on vlrtues and more on rlghts
Hlstorlcal development
- moral obllgatlons requlre actlon, so morallty lmpacts on the lndlvldual
- why should llvlng a moral llfe matterI
- ls llvlng an moral llfe a questlon of havlng the rlght characterI
- one mlght be gulded by emotlon and lntultlon, but moral [udgments seem to be more
than slmple expresslons of personal preference
Llnks to personal
knowledge
Knowledge
questlons
29/155
Lxamples of posslble toplcs of study
Lmotlon and
reason ln ethlcs
|n what sense can ethlcs be regarded as a system of knowledgeI
How are connlcts between dlnerent ethlcal systems resolvedI
Knowledge
questlons
Lthlcal dllemmas Lthlcal theorles
(eg utllltarlanlsm,
vlrtue ethlcs,
Kantlan ethlcs)
Lthlcal language
To what extent mlght lack of knowledge be an excuse for
unethlcal conductI
To what extent mlght possesslon of knowledge carry wlth lt
moral obllgatlonsI
Do people act agalnst thelr own lnterestsI
Do moral truths exlstI
why be moralI
30/155
Scope/applications
- attempts to explaln the meanlng and purpose of llfe
- lncorporates a dlverse range of systems from polythelsm to panthelsm
Knowledge framework
- dlmcultles ln uslng human language to descrlbe the dlvlne
- lmportance of analogy and metaphor
- language shlfts: oral to wrltten, latln to vernacular
- conventlons: authorlty of scrlpture ln many systems, leaders and authorlty ñgures
- key concepts: falth, mlracles, god(s), revelatlon
- argumentatlon, use of reason
- lnterpretatlon
- use of revelatlon
- sense perceptlon
- authorlty
- value on falth
Language
Methodology
- debates betweeen llteral/fundamentallst, conservatlve and llberal approaches
- lmpact of sclentlñc knowledge
- language developments leadlng to wlder developments
Hlstorlcal development
- understandlng of the self÷personal vlews on llfe after death, personal moral declslon-
maklng
- emotlonal element ln rellglous bellef
- attltudes and behavlour towards others
- foundlng ñgures: Muhammed
- splrltual leaders: Dalal Lama
- lndlvlduals who have changed the course of rellglous hlstory such as Martln Luther
- role of collaboratlon÷communlty element: ummah ln |slam, evangellsm and rellglous
plurallsm
Llnks to personal
knowledge
Knowledge
questlons
31/155
Lxamples of posslble toplcs of study
Arguments for
and agalnst the
exlstence of God
what ls the dlnerence between rellglous feellngs, rellglous
bellefs and rellglous falthI
|s lt posslble to know GodI
Knowledge
questlons
Pellglous
language
Pellglous
experlence and
mlracles
Pellglous
plurallsm
Are rellglous bellefs reasonableI
|s falth lrratlonalI
where do rellglous bellefs come fromI
Can you thlnk of any evldence whlch would convlnce you that
God does not exlstI
what ls the value of thlnklng about questlons to whlch there are
no deñnlte answersI
How do we declde between the competlng clalms of dlnerent
rellglous knowledge systemsI
32/155
Scope/applications
- attempts to explaln the nature and exlstence of humanlty for a partlcular group of
human belngs
- lncorporates a dlverse range of systems lncludlng |nults, Aymara |ndlans ln 8ollvla,
Pomanl people and more
Knowledge framework
- role of language ln the knowledge system, for example storytelllng
- use of metaphor and analogles
- malntalnlng tradltlons through wrltten language
- oral tradltlons are dylng because they are not wrltten down
- conventlons: role of elders, lmportance of group over lndlvldual
- key concepts: nomad, concept of home, honour, ownershlp
- oral tradltlon handlng down through the generatlons÷role of memory
- rltual÷shared emotlon
- folklore
- muslc
- artefacts
- systems of reason
- explalnlng observed natural phenomena as belng part of a total worldvlew÷role of
sense perceptlon
Language
Methodology
- lmpact of colonlallzatlon and globallzatlon
Hlstorlcal development
- understandlng the self÷ancestry, place ln the world, attltudes and behavlour towards
others
- elders personally contrlbutlng to the form of the knowledge system
- collaboratlon: the enactment of rltual and tradltlon glves the posslblllty through a group
enort of relnforclng the system of knowledge
- ancestral knowledge llnked to the personal
Llnks to personal
knowledge
Knowledge
questlons
33/155
Lxamples of posslble toplcs of study
The nature and
role of artefacts
How rellable are "oral tradltlonsª ln preservlng cultural herltage
ln lndlgenous knowledge systemsI
To what extent does the fact that early llterature on lndlgenous
knowledge systems was wrltten from a non-lndlgenous
perspectlve anect lts credlbllltyI
Knowledge
questlons
Cycles and
changes ln the
earth and sky
Plants and anlmal
behavlour
The lmpact of
technology on
the relatlonshlp
between
lndlgenous
peoples and thelr
envlronment
How does sense perceptlon play a fundamental role ln the
acqulsltlon of knowledge ln lndlgenous knowledge systemsI
what elements of unlversal slgnlñcance may we dlscern ln
lndlgenous knowledge systemsI
To what extent can dlslnformatlon by educatlon and governance
threaten lndlgenous knowledge systemsI
why ls there often such a strong connectlon between
lndlgenous knowledge and cosmologyI
what are the roles of folklore, rltuals and songs ln lndlgenous
knowledge systemsI
34/155




What is Science for?

35/155







In this unit students can learn:
• That science is a tried and tested method of learning true facts about the
reality around us and gaining knowledge;

• About the awe and wonder which can be aroused in human beings as we
explore the natural world;

• About the satisfaction that human beings can have in the enterprise of
science – being curious and finding things out about the world around us.

How this learning fits into the national curriculum
Learning around these themes can support the overall aim of the national curriculum
for secondary education in developing ‘successful learners who enjoy learning, make
progress and achieve’ by helping to inspire students with the enjoyment of finding
things out which the study of science can encourage. According to the secondary
national curriculum, ‘The study of science fires pupils’ curiosity about phenomena in
the world around them and offers opportunities to find explanations’, and learning
around these themes can help support the development of scientific thinking as well
as contributing to students’ overall ‘social, moral, spiritual and cultural’ development
by allowing them to reflect on the meaning and purpose that human beings can
achieve by exploring the world around us, and reflecting on the awe and wonder that
the natural world can inspire in us.
Learning around these themes develops understanding of the context for scientific
thinking (Key Stage 3 1.1 – Key Concepts: Scientific thinking) and develops skills of
communication in ‘discussions about scientific issues’ (Key stage 3 2.3 – Key
Processes: Communication) either in class discussions or in writing.

36/155






Notes for teachers
Activity Extra information and guidance Video clips
Why doesn’t my
mobile phone
work?

This activity works well as a
starter before the key ideas
about the scientific method are
introduced. It should show that
we use the scientific method in
everyday life, even if we don’t
always realise it.


What is the
Scientific
Method?

This summary diagram shows
one possible representation of
the processes associated with
the scientific method.
It could be used to review
students’ responses to the
‘Mobile phone’ activity.
This brief extract illustrates the
formation and testing of a
scientific hypothesis.
Waking Up in the Universe (from
54:29 ‘there’s nothing wrong
with having faith in a proper
scientific prediction...’ to 55:46,
the Medawar quotation)
Which card
wins?

Each group of five will need a
pack of playing cards for this
activity.
This exercise illustrates the
usefulness of the scientific
method in problem solving and
how adopting a rational,
scientific approach means that
puzzles can be solved more
efficiently.
You will need to make up a rule
for each game (e.g. highest red
card wins, or lowest black card
etc) which should only be given
to the dealer.

37/155






What is Science
for?

These comprehension exercises
help pupils to learn more about
how the practical application of
the scientific method has helped
improve the wellbeing of people
in the past and today.


Science in words

These passages could be read
together as a class or
individually. They describe the
sense of awe and wonder
associated with the study of
Science.


What do you
think about
Science?

The video clip describes two
reasons for supporting science.
(1) science gives us a way of
finding out true facts about the
universe that surrounds us, (2)
the pleasure and fulfilment that
can come from exploration and
the satisfying our curiosity by
learning about the universe
around us. These two reasons
are linked together.
How do your students feel about
science? Richard Dawkins says
that the public funding of
science should be justified in the
same way as public funding of
the arts – do your students
agree? What are some of the
reasons people may do
science? What are some of the
reasons why we should give
public support to science?
In this extract Richard Dawkins
asks us to imagine that we have
travelled through space, in deep
sleep and have eventually
reached a wonderful new world.
He compares this experience
with each of us being born into
just such an amazing world and
introduces science as the way
by which we can understand the
world around us.
Waking Up in the Universe (from
15:14 ‘Now imagine a
spaceship...’ to 19.44 ‘...spend
your short time in the spotlight.’)
38/155




Why doesn’t my mobile phone work?

Imagine that a mobile phone has suddenly stopped working.



Why might the mobile phone have stopped working?
• Think of as many possible reasons as you can. Make a list.

How could you make the mobile phone start working again?
• Describe, for each possible reason, how you could check to see if it was the
true reason for the phone not working? Write a few words to describe how you
could check.
39/155




What is the Scientific Method?
Make an observotion LhaL ls lnLeresLlng, unusual or oLherwlse ralses a
quesLlon
8ased on your observaLlon, Lhlnk of a question Lo be answered whlch
can be used a focus for your lnvesLlgaLlon
1hlnk up a hypothesis- an educaLed guess aL Lhe answer based on whaL
you already know abouL Lhe sub[ecL. 1he hypoLhesls should be a
sLaLemenL whlch can be LesLed by an experlmenL and Lhen shown Lo be
elLher valld or false.
ueslgn and carry ouL an experiment Lo LesL lf your hypoLhesls ls valld or
false. 1hls doesn'L have Lo be someLhlng done ln a sclence lab buL lL musL
be a falr LesL (only change one facLor aL a Llme, keeplng everyLhlng else
Lhe same) and you should check LhaL Lhe resulLs are rellable by dolng
repeaLs
1he resulLs from your experlmenLs wlll need Lo be ono/ysed and
lnLerpreLed. ?ou may Lhen be able Lo draw a conc/usion and sLaLe lf your
hypoLhesls ls valld or false
lf your hypothes|s |s shown
to be fa|se (or noL compleLely
valld) you wlll need Lo come
up wlLh a new hypoLhesls
lf your hypothes|s |s shown to be
va||d, you can accepL lL buL you
could also lmprove your
confldence ln lL by dolng more
repeaLs or even deslgnlng
dlfferenL experlmenLs Lo LesL Lhe
same hypoLhesls






!
!
?
?

  
  
  
  


40/155





Which card wins?

In this activity you are going to use the scientific method to work out the rules of a
card game. You will work in groups of five and each group will need a pack of
playing cards. In each group, four people will play the game and the fifth person will
deal the cards.

What to do
1. The dealer should deal out all of the cards from the pack, not including the
Jokers.
2. Each player picks up their cards. They can look at their own cards but not
other people’s.
3. The dealer then asks the teacher for the game’s rules. Only the dealer should
know this, not the players.
4. The player to the dealer’s left plays one of their cards by placing it face up on
the table. They can play any card from their hand.
5. The other players in turn then play one of their cards, in the same way.
6. Once all the players have played one card, the dealer will say which player
has won that round (according to the game’s rules) but without saying what
the rule is.
7. The players play further rounds of the game by repeating steps 4-6, with the
dealer saying who has won each time.
8. The players should treat each round of the game as an experiment. They
should note down the result of each experiment (which card wins) in a table.
9. Once a player has spotted what they think the rule is (their hypothesis) they
can try to predict which card will win a round.
10. If a player predicts the rule correctly, a new game can start with a different
person acting as the dealer. The new dealer should ask their teacher for a
new rule.

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Things to think about
• How did you work out what the rules of each game were? How did you use
the scientific method?
• How could you work together with the other players of the game to find the
rule more quickly? Is this something that scientists do when they are
researching something?

Results table

Round
Player 1’s
card
Player 2’s
card
Player 3’s
card
Player 4’s
card
Who wins
this round?
1

2

3









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What is Science for?
CASE ONE: Cholera
Read the article and the background information. Answer the questions below.



Background information
At this time buildings in the area did not have water supplied through pipes into each home.
Instead, people would go to water pumps in the street which were connected to an
underground well. They would pump water into buckets and take this back to their homes
and use it for washing, drinking and cooking.
A doctor, John Snow, was appalled by the cholera outbreak. He visited the area affected and
talked to the people that lived there about the disease. He discovered that a large number of
people who had died of the disease lived near a water pump on Broad Street and that they
had taken water from this pump.
John Snow persuaded the local authority to close the pump and soon the number of cholera
cases fell dramatically. It was later found that the well that gave water for this pump was
near to an underground cesspit full of human sewage which had started to leak out.
• What is the hypothesis given in the newspaper article for the cholera outbreak?
• What was John Snow’s hypothesis for the cholera outbreak?
• Give three pieces of evidence from the information above which suggest that John Snow’s
hypothesis was valid.
• Describe an experiment which could have given further, direct evidence to back up John
Snow’s hypothesis.
DEADLY DISEASE IN CENTRAL LONDON
3 September 1854
THE serious outbreak of cholera which has
befallen the Soho district of Central London
these past days has worsened. This dreadful
disease, whose symptoms include severe
diarrhoea, continues to claim victims.
The death toll from this outbreak has now
reached five hundred and shows no sign of
slowing down. Why has this disease struck?
Some say that there is something in the
air...
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CASE TWO: AIDS
Read the datasheet and then answer the question below.
AID8 and chiIdbirth
1. AID8 ia a aet of aymptoma cauaed by the HIV virua which attacka the human
immune ayatem.
2. Thia meana that body cannot defend itaeIf effectiveIy againat infectiona and
diaeaaea which eventuaIIy Iead to death.
3. The HIV virua ia tranamitted through bodiIy fIuida (auch aa bIood, aemen,
breaat miIk) that are infected with HIV.
4. Between 25º and 35º of babiea born to mothera with HIV are themaeIvea
infected with the HIV virua.
5. 8tudiea of bIood in the umbiIicaI corda of babiea ahowed that thoae with HIV
had their mother'a bIood mixed with their own.
6. If pregnant women with HIV give birth by caeaarean aection  they go
into Iabour (and are given medicine to reduce the apeed that the HIV virua
muItipIiea), onIy 1º of babiea are then infected with HIV.
7. If pregnant women with HIV give birth by caeaarean aection  they go into
Iabour (and are given medicine to reduce the apeed that the HIV virua
muItipIiea), their babiea atiII ahow an increaaed riak of HIV infection.

• How does the evidence show that giving birth by caesarean section before going into labour
helps to reduce the risk of HIV infection being past from mother to baby?
• How has the scientific method been used to find how HIV is passed from mother to baby?
• What else can scientists do to try and reduce the risk of HIV infection in childbirth now that
this study has been done?


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Science in words

From Unweaving the Rainbow, by Richard Dawkins (Penguin 2006):

After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a
sumptuous planet, sparkling with colour, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close
our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to
work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I
answer when I am asked – as I am surprisingly often – why I bother to get up in the
mornings. To put it the other way round, isn't it sad to go to your grave without ever
wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager
to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be a part of it?

From the coda to Science: A History, 1543-2001, by John Gribbin (Allen Lane 2002):

It is because there are ultimate truths out there that science hangs together so well. And
what motivates the great scientists is not the thirst for fame or fortune (although that can be
a seductive lure for the less-than-great scientists) but what Richard Feynman called “the
pleasure of finding things out”, a pleasure so satisfying that many of those great scientists,
from Newton to Cavendish and from Charles Darwin to Feynman himself, have not even
bothered to publish their findings unless pressed by their friends to do so, but a pleasure that
would hardly exist if there were no truths to discover.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks, in his autobiography, Uncle Tungsten (Picador 2002),
remembers how inspired he was as a boy by chemistry. He is describing one of his
Uncle Dave’s heroes, the 18
th
century Swedish chemist Scheele:

Scheele, it was said, never forgot anything if it had to do with chemistry. He never forgot the
look, the feel, the smell of a substance or the way it was transformed in chemical reactions,
never forgot anything he read, or was told, about the phenomena of chemistry. He seemed
indifferent, or inattentive to most things else, being wholly dedicated to his single passion,
chemistry. It was this pure and passionate absorption in phenomena – noticing everything,
forgetting nothing – that constituted Scheele’s special strength. Scheele epitomized for me
the romance of science. There seemed to me an integrity, an essential goodness, about a
life in science, a lifelong love affair.

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What do you think about Science?

What do you think about science? Richard Dawkins says that the public funding of
science should be justified in the same way as public funding for works of art,
museums, libraries or theatres. Do you agree? Why do people become scientists?
What are some of the reasons why we should give public support to science?
Using the ideas in the paragraph above and video clips you may have seen from
Richard Dawkins’ lecture choose one of the following tasks:

• Write an article for a newspaper or magazine arguing in favour of greater
public funding for science

• Write a letter to a newspaper or a Member of Parliament (MP) arguing in
favour of greater public funding of science.

• Why would you become a scientist? Explain why you would, starting ‘If I
were to become a scientist it would be because...’
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TOK: RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS – THREE VIEWS
ARMSTRONG
“I began to realise that belief, which we make such a fuss about today, is only a very recent religious
enthusiasm.”
“If religion is not about believing things, what is it about? [...] Religion is about behaving differently –
instead of deciding whether or not you believe in God, first you do something; you behave in a
committed way and then you begin to understand the truths of religion.”
“You only understand [religious doctrines] when you put them into practice.”
“It is an arresting fact that [...] in every single one of the major world faiths [...] compassion is [...] the
test of any true religiosity.”
“When we feel compassion we de-throne ourselves from the centre of our world, and we put another
person there.”
“Every single one of the major world traditions has [...] put at the core of their tradition what’s become
known as the golden rule – do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you...”
http://www.ted.com/talks/karen_armstrong_makes_her_ted_prize_wish_the_charter_for_compassion.html
PROTHERO
“Instead of pressing all the religions into one box [...]; I try to separate them out and look at them
individually...”
“[I look for] what kind of problem [does each religion] see that we human beings have; then what’s the
solution to the problem – so if you understand the basic human problem as basically about sin, [...] then
Christianity is going to make a lot of sense to you, but if the problem really is suffering then maybe
Buddhism is the solution...”
“It’s easy to think that the [...] right thing for an ethical person to do is to pretend that the religions are
basically the same – isn’t that the way that we’re going to get along in the world? But how do we get
along with one another? It’s not by pretending that we’re the same – it’s by acknowledging the
differences that we have and coming to understand them...”
“A lot of people think that religions are basically about belief [...] but religion is mainly for most people
about the day-to-day things that they do...”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hITK_4KTkMU
HARRIS
“I view religions as essentially failed sciences – religion was the discourse that we had when all causes
in the universe were opaque; we didn’t know the basis of anything...”
“We tell ourselves stories about our origins [...] and about the causes in the world. Those stories, given
our pervasive ignorance, [...] entail being in relation to invisible friends and enemies, and so we have
this parent figure in the sky who’s going to take care of things, and we have other demonic presences
that we should be really worried about...”
“Gradually what you see happening is [...] religion on a hundred fronts losing the argument with
science. [...] It’s losing the argument on every other front. It’s losing it ethically, it will lose the argument
spiritually – we will understand spiritual experience so well at some point, at the level of the brain [...] –
we will understand it in such as way that makes a mockery of this denominational religion talk about
Jesus and grace, about the Buddha and magic powers – that will break down in the same way that it has
broken down on medicine...”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQgI4bHpAlA
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Lesson 1: What Good are Schools?
Context
The curriculum in every system of education reflects our different ideals of the human person, of
our communities and of our understanding of knowledge.
This lesson could form a useful introduction to TOK by offering a wider context of reflection on
the total curriculum. It could also provide a conclusion to the course, giving the students an
opportunity to revise and synthesize their learning. Altogether, it offers students ownership of the
TOK course.
Aims
y To identify the ideals or criteria of excellence in individuals and society.
y To consider the nature of sound evidence.
y To analyse critically the components of educational systems.
y To link the power and process of education to the above-mentioned criteria, and to consider
the kinds of knowledge that are valued.
Class Management
y The student handout (from Benjamin Franklin) should be copied and distributed to the class
ahead of time. This is useful as a stimulus.
y Probably, two 45 minute lessons are required. One lesson will give students time to discuss
and record their findings. In the second lesson they will report on and analyse their task.
y The level of education being considered may or may not be restricted to the Diploma
Programme.
Focus Activity
Divide the class into two or three groups. Tell them that they have been elected to the position of
Minister of Education in their country and that they have been given the task of devising the best
possible educational curriculum for the nation. They should be given only two preconditions.
1 Their aim must be to produce the best individuals and the best society possible.
2 They must impart only knowledge and beliefs which are based on sound evidence.
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Student Handout
A useful passage is the following from Benjamin Franklin’s Remarks concerning the Savages of North America.
It is an appealing story, in which many relevant issues are raised to stir students to thought: issues of value
judgments, cultural context, definitions of knowledge, applicability of knowledge.
At the treaty of Lancaster in Pennsylvania, anno 1744, between the government of Virginia and the Six
Nations, the commissioners from Virginia acquainted the Indians [Native Americans] by a speech, that there
was at Williamsburg a College with a fund for educating Indian youth; and if the Chiefs of the Six Nations
would send down half a dozen of their sons to that college, the government would take care that they be
well provided for, and instructed in all the learning of the White People.
The Indians’ spokesman replied:
“We know that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in those colleges, and that the maintenance of
our young men, while with you, would be very expensive to you. We are convinced, therefore, that you
mean to do us good by your proposal and we thank you heartily.
“But you, who are wise, must know that different nations have different conceptions of things; and you will
not therefore take it amiss, if our ideas of this kind of education happen not to be the same with yours. We
have had some experience of it; several of our young people were formerly brought up at the colleges of
the Northern Provinces; they were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they
were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger,
knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, nor kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly, were
therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors nor counsellors; they were totally good for nothing.
“We are however not the less obligated by your kind offer, though we decline accepting it, and to show our
grateful sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take care of their
education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.”
Lesson 1: What Good are Schools?
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Discussion Questions
Any of the following discussion questions could be extended into a written assignment.
y What are the aims of the education system and the institution of which you are a part? What,
through the aims, are you expected to know?
y What are the ideals of the society that have determined those aims?
y Where did those ideals come from? On what grounds are they justified?
y What conflicts can arise from those ideals?
Teacher Notes
Discussion can be extended to wider contexts by offering the students categories of choice.
y What choices are faced when these ideals (and the conflicts that arise between them) in
practice influence the nature of the curriculum? Some considerations may be:
Theoretical versus practical
Sciences versus arts/humanities
y What status should be given to
‚ moral/ethical education
‚ community service
‚ political education
‚ physical education and sports
‚ arts education and sports?
y How is it decided which of the so-called great works of science, art, literature and morality
are worthy to be passed on in your school or college?
Discussion can be stimulated and extended by introducing regional, religious, cultural and other
considerations.
The IBO ideals and the Diploma Programme curriculum can be critically analysed as a
de-briefing exercise.
Links to Other Areas of TOK
Using the IBO ideals and curriculum as the basic material for this lesson gives it a lasting and
holistic frame of reference for the student.
From Other Times and Places
The handout may easily be replaced by other suitable pieces such as ones by Confucius or Hsun
Tzu, or by Koranic principles or by Australian Aborigine ideals.
Lesson 1: What Good are Schools?
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Quotation
Do not judge a man until you have walked ten leagues in his moccasins. Proverb
References
Franklin, B, Remarks concerning the Savages of North America
Bruner, J, The Culture of Education, (1997) Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674179536
Freedman, JO, Idealism and Liberal Education, (1996) University of Michigan Press, ISBN
0472106929
Toffler, A, The Third Wave, (1991) Bantam Books, ISBN 0553246984
The TOK Guide (1999) IBO DR17
Lesson 1: What Good are Schools?
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Lesson 3: Letters from an Indian Judge
to an English Gentlewoman
Context
This lesson is useful after the introduction of the course. It shows that knowledge claims may be
heavily reliant on culture and social perspective. Because the lesson has wide application it may be
referred to throughout the course.
The lesson could also serve to consider the multiple meanings of the word culture, so relevant in
discussions of knowledge, and to consider the differences between members of any designated
group. Causes of cultural cohesion or bias can arise from a combination of geography, ethnicity,
gender, academic training and many other factors.
Aims
y To consider knowledge within a cultural context.
y To expand the concept of culture beyond the categories of race, language and nationality.
y To account for the variety of knowledge claims.
y To note the power of belief systems.
Class Management
This lesson is easily done in 45 minutes, with a reading aloud of the handout in class followed by
a discussion.
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Focus Activity
Student Handout
‘Now I can tell you a little more of some of my work up here, which may perhaps be of interest to you. And
first and most formidable of all, behold our local Snake.
He dwells in a cleft up here on the mountainside, in a large fissure that was caused by an earthquake. For I
must tell you, this part of the world is very prone to earthquakes and for this reason, very sensibly, no brick
building must be of more than three feet high. After that your edifices must all be composed of wood or of
plaster and laths so that he who gets fallen upon by his house in an earthquake is not fallen upon too much.
Now you and I may have our private ideas as to the causes of earthquakes, but that makes no difference to
the small unlettered man in the country about here, because, you see, he knows. And what he knows is that
the earthquakes come because the Snake has been allowed to get angry and then through the earth he
goes, and confides his troubles to the spirits that sit within the earth and then the spirits get angry as well,
and then, pouf, down come all our houses upon our heads.
The small man in the village knows this, just as he knows that anything we may say to him to the contrary
proves only our ignorance or that we have some private axe to grind. Do not suppose that it is ever by its
Rulers and enlightened men a country is really governed. It is by the small men in the villages, who know.
Another thing the small man knows is just how to placate this angry Snake. The way it is done is as follows.
Once yearly you must make chapattis [bread] mixed with the best of flour and ghee [butter], all welded
together with human blood. It is useless trying to palm off goat’s blood upon this very intelligent Snake. He
knows what he wants.’
Excerpt from Letters from an Indian Judge to an English Gentlewoman
Lesson 3: Letters from an Indian Judge to an English Gentlewoman
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Teacher Notes
After reading the handout aloud, the class breaks into two groups. One group establishes step by
step the knowledge claims of the small man based on the evidence. The other group establishes
the knowledge claims of the judge. Each group presents their claims to the other, looking for
strengths and weaknesses.
Discussion Questions
Ask students to offer knowledge claims that they think are culture-specific, from either their own
culture or others they know about. These knowledge claims could come from personal
experience, or from literature and films.
Observe whether students tend to use culture as a generic term, assuming a homogeneous group.
A trifocal way of understanding people may be useful in considering culture and the variety of
knowledge claims. Each person can be seen to be:
y a member of a species, and therefore alike
y a member of a group, and therefore having a number of names
y an individual, and therefore unique.
With these questions in mind, ask students to give several attributes of each category to
themselves, and to construct a situation where things go wrong because people use the wrong
category for the situation.
Links to Other Areas of TOK
This lesson is clearly relevant to Knowers and Knowing, Ways of Knowing, and many of the
Linking Questions in the TOK Guide. In its discussion of the role of culture it also connects more
specifically with general patterns observed in the human sciences and with the role of definition
in language. The claims generated are also relevant to evidence and reasoning, especially in the
light of what counts as a good reason around the world.
Quotations
Much learning does not teach understanding. Heraclitus
The only reality is that which the mind constructs and the only truth is the mind’s coherence
with itself.
Tejedor Cesar
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. David Hume
References
Olen, J, Persons and Their World, (1983) McGraw Hill College Div, ISBN 0075543117 (especially
chapters 15 and 16)
Lesson 3: Letters from an Indian Judge to an English Gentlewoman
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Lesson 4: Exercises on Meaning
Context
Sharing meanings and using categories seem to be important human abilities. How we do these
things seems relevant to a consideration of language, as a way of knowing.
The view that students often seem to hold is that categories correspond to natural kinds that exist
out there in the world, on which we hang labels (words) when we recognize them. According to
this view, the objects that make up this natural kind, whether it be birds or tables, are a part of
this category because they share a common property or feature. Because we recognize this
feature, so the reasoning goes, we are able to group them together and name them.
This view of meaning can easily be shown to be faulty in various ways. The first of these is to say
that even if one could categorize tables in this way, we would have serious problems doing the
same with freedom or good or any number of concepts of that sort. The complexity of
categorization should be illustrated by the activities.
Aims
y To examine the meaning(s) of words and our knowledge of these meanings.
y To highlight the importance of categorization in the construction of knowledge.
Class Management
These activities could take up one or two 45-minute lessons. Discussion in small groups, followed
by a plenary, would be appropriate. At other points in the TOK course there should be sufficient
opportunity to return to the issues raised.
Focus Activity
Define the word good. It might help to provide some statements to stimulate discussion.
y He is a good man.
y She is a good athlete.
y There are a good many liars in this outfit.
y Are you good for a few dollars?
y The common good.
This activity can be repeated with other generic words, such as true.
y He was true to his word.
y She is a true friend.
y Everything he told us was true.
y That arrow flies true.
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Discussion Questions
y Do we need to know a definition of a word, in order to understand its meaning?
y Is knowing how to use a word similar to knowing how to walk or swim; that is, could it be
viewed as a skill?
y Do words have meanings or do we give them meanings?
y What do people mean when they claim that young people no longer use language properly?
Students may quickly fix on a variety of uses (the moral good versus the good used in
winetasting, for example). It is also possible to narrow the discussion by asking for a single
definition of good when describing human action only (the moral dimension). The likelihood is
that students will be unable to provide an answer to everyone’s satisfaction. If they object to the
choice of word, arguing that it is too abstract, try them out on Wittgenstein’s defining game.
These are words that they use successfully every day, and so they are competent users of these
terms and yet they are unable to define them. Does this mean, as Socrates would have it, that they
have no idea of what they are saying? (This is the metaphysical view so eloquently portrayed in
Plato’s dialogues, where Socrates goads prominent Athenians, requiring them to define key
concepts which they are prone to use as if they were experts on the subject, such as beauty,
justice, virtue, and when they are unable to do so, concludes that no one knows anything. One
cannot improve on Hubert Dreyfus’s quip that someone should have suspected that this was not
a good starting point for Western philosophy.)
An alternative view, that could emerge when these questions are considered, is the meaning as
use view. Here words take on meaning as ways in which we use the term (often in varied and
specialized contexts), which need not respond to any one underlying paradigm or model.
Links to Other Areas of TOK
Most of the concepts in the programme can lend themselves to the question of whether they
could be considered a language, and therefore the question of meanings becomes relevant. (As
Dennet has recently pointed out in his Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (Simon and Schuster, 1995, p.371)
it sometimes seems as if the highest praise we can bestow on a phenomenon we are studying is
the claim that its complexities entitle it to be called a language.) Might meanings work very
differently in different types of language? For example, does the word truth always mean the
same thing, or is it applied in the same circumstances, in all the areas of knowledge covered by
TOK? The same could be asked in relation to evidence, or justification. This is central to TOK.
How much of what is going on when we apply such words is common, and how much is
particular, to different areas of knowledge?
For example, in a discussion of what science is, should we include social research and analysis? Is
there one common feature typical of all those practices we call science? Or do we use it in
different ways, some of which make it easier to accommodate social studies than others? The
same applies to the discussion of art, or of good actions, or indeed the word language itself.
How we actually categorize is not an entirely resolved question. This lesson can focus attention
on the extent to which we are passive describers, registering the world about us, or active
interpreters of our surroundings (the or is not of the either/or variety).
Lesson 4: Exercises on Meaning
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From Other Times and Places
y Use of the word good in Australian English? (I’m good = I’m well)
y Use of these words in the past. For example, between the 15th and 18th centuries the word
presently meant immediately. It still does in British English, but means currently in American
English. Words are not static, but shift meaning with time, place, culture and purpose.
Quotations
Definitions are like belts—the shorter they are, the more elastic they need to be.
Steven Toumlin
Language is by its very nature a communal thing; that is, it expresses never the exact thing
but a compromise—that which is common to you, me and everybody.
Thomas Ernest Hulme
Meanings receive their dignity from words instead of giving it to them. Pascal
Ours is a Copious Language, and Trying to Strangers.
Mr Podsnap in Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend
References
Hayakawa, AR & SI, Language in Thought and Action, (1991) Harcourt Brace, ISBN 0156482401
Keller, H, The Story of My Life, (1999) Demco Media, ISBN 0606159983
Kolak, D & Martin, R, Wisdom Without Answers, (1998) Wadsworth Publishing Co, ISBN
053425974X
Lesson 4: Exercises on Meaning
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Lesson 6: Language and Symbolism
Context
This lesson is useful in raising distinctions between the strengths of body language and the
strengths of language symbolism in communication. It can also help make distinctions between
signs and symbols. It includes a game which leads to discussion on the capacity of language to
communicate what physical gestures cannot.
Aims
y To examine the symbolic nature of language.
y To investigate the use of language for abstraction through an introductory game of charades.
Class Management
This lesson takes 40 to 50 minutes, though the discussion questions can occupy more time. The
class is divided into small groups to play the game first, and then brought back together for
discussion.
Cards such as those which follow must be prepared in advance. They are only suggestions. Those
written by teachers referring to situations to which their own students can relate would be more
effective. You will need one pair of cards per group.
Have all the card As in one colour, and all the card Bs in another colour. You should mark each
card clearly on the back as A1, B1, A2, B2, and so on, so that it is possible to move cards from
group to group for a second round of the game and still keep track of what each group is doing.
Focus Activity
Divide the class into groups of four to six students and disperse them in the classroom. Then
divide each group in half.
Give the first half of the group a card A, on which is written a description of a situation which
they must act out for the second half—without using any words. The second half of the group
must guess as accurately as possible what is being communicated, with the goal of being able to
reproduce verbally the description on the card without having seen it.
Then give the second half of the group the equivalent card B, for them to act out in turn.
The TOK twist to this game of charades is that the cards are in pairs. The A cards describe
concrete objects, physical actions, and emotions, all of which are fairly easy to enact. The B cards
shift to greater level of detail, abstract ideas, connection in time, space, or consequence, and other
relationships such as addition, contrast, and exception.
Be prepared for indignant wails from students on first reading a card B.
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Student Handout
You have just had a serious conversation
with your parents about going to university
after your Diploma Programme studies, or
whether you should work and save for a
year first in order not to build up a debt from
the very beginning of what will probably be
several years of higher education.
You have just had a serious conversation
with your parents about whether you should
go to university after your Diploma
Programme studies.
You have just received a phone call from
your mother who tells you that your brother
has just won a huge scholarship to study
astrophysics at a top university in England,
beginning next autumn.
You have just received a phone call from
your mother who tells you that the family pet
dog has died.
A friend comes to you, very excited,
because he/she has just been hired to write
a feature article for the regional newspaper
on a project on which he/she will be
assisting an art expert who restores old
paintings and establishes their authenticity.
A friend comes to you, very excited,
because he/she has just won a huge prize
in a lottery and wants you to come along
and celebrate.
Although your marks in mathematics are not
very good, you enjoy the challenge of
studying mathematics, because you find the
intellectual rigour satisfying and consider the
subject to be fundamental to success in
other areas such as economics or
engineering.
You find mathematics very difficult. You
have studied hard for a test, but your mark
is still bad and you feel extremely
discouraged.
You are in love with someone, but refuse to
take your emotions seriously, because you
regard love as a destructive force which can
undermine good judgment and lead couples
into hasty and ill-fated marriages which can
end only in divorce.
You are in love with someone, but all your
efforts to attract his/her attention fail, and
you are left with a broken heart.
CARD B CARD A
Lesson 6: Language and Symbolism
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Discussion Questions
What, on the cards, was easy to act out? What was difficult? Why? Are there some things for
which body gestures and expressions are more effective than words? Are there some things for
which words are more effective in communication?
What is a symbol? What is the relationship between a word and that to which it refers?
Is body language natural, or is it learned? How might body language vary across cultures—in the
extent to which it is used for communication, and in the significance given to gestures? Possible
examples for discussion are: one’s sense of personal space, the use of eye contact, gestures for yes
and no, for come here, for flirtation, for aggression or insult. How might the accompanying body
language affect the meaning of utterances?
Is sign language for the deaf more accurately considered to be body language or a symbolic
system?
What effect does the existence of our symbol system of language have on knowledge?
Links to Other Areas of TOK
y How does language compare with other symbolic forms of communication such as painting,
dance, music and mathematics? Would it be possible to place all these forms in a range or
spectrum according to any of the following qualities: precise–evocative; rational–emotional;
representational–abstract; specific–general?
y Is knowledge restricted to claims made in language? Can a look or gesture communicate
knowledge?
y How does the anthropologist or other practitioner of the human sciences gain knowledge of
an individual or culture? How might the context of body language be significant in methods
of observation and interview?
From Other Times and Places
A discussion of the variability of body language around the world, both in its acceptability and its
specific gestures, places language in its cultural context.
References
Axtell, RE (ed.), Do’s and Taboos Around the World, (1993) John Wiley and Sons, ISBN 0471595284
Farb, P, Word Play: What Happens When People Talk, (1993) Vintage Books, ISBN 0679734082
Lesson 6: Language and Symbolism
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Lesson 7: Words and not Words: an
Exercise in Describing and Listening
Context
Because this lesson is designed to show how difficult it is to express even a simple idea in such a
way that the receiver will properly understand it, it is best used at the beginning of the course or
as a refresher at other appropriate times. Students are encouraged to consider whether all sorts of
knowledge can be communicated in words.
Aims
y To consider the relationship between perception and language.
y To develop an awareness of problems involved in communicating ideas and knowledge.
Class Management
The class should be divided into groups of five or six students. Each group should appoint a
leader.
In advance of the lesson, teachers will need to make a copy of Picture A and Picture B for each
of the student leaders. All the other students, the followers, will require two pieces of graph
(squared) paper each.
One hour of class time should be allowed for the completion of the two activities. Additional
time will most likely be required for group discussion and reflection.
Focus Activity
The lesson consists of two different activities, A and B. They may be taken in any order. During
activities A and B, the followers are required to listen attentively to the leaders’ instructions and
draw a series of figures on the graph paper. After activities A and B are completed, the teacher, a
student or a group of students could award marks to the pictures completed by the followers.
Once activities A and B are completed, results can be discussed as a class.
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Student Handout
Lesson 7: Words and not Words: an Exercise in Describing and Listening
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Activity A
One student is appointed the leader. The rest of the group are followers. The leader describes Picture A
verbally. The followers are to listen and, without collaboration, attempt to draw the picture, with the same
shape, the same size and the same orientation, on their graph paper. There should be no other
communication other than the leader’s description. No questions are allowed from the followers.
Picture A
Activity B
This activity is similar to activity A: another picture such as the one below should be used, but the followers
are now allowed to ask for additional information.
Picture B
A
B
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Discussion Questions
y Compare the process of the verbal transfer of knowledge, as done in activities A and B, with
the transfer of knowledge between teacher and student in a school lesson. What similarities
and differences exist?
y Compare the process found in activities A and B with the process of a student acquiring
knowledge by reading a text. What similarities and differences are there?
y By what means can our ideas and opinions be made more clear to others in a conversation or
when writing?
y What is the difference between information and knowledge?
Related Questions
y If language works according to sets of rules and conventions, how much scope do we have as
individuals to break the rules, to challenge conventions, to be creative?
y Are vagueness and ambiguity shortcomings of language that must be eliminated in the
interest of knowledge, or can they be also viewed as positive aspects of language?
From Other Times and Places
From the writings of Benjamin Whorf (1897–1941) we learn that:
The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there because they stare every
observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be
organised by our minds—and this means largely by the linguistic system in our minds.
From this he concludes his principle of linguistic relativity
. . . which holds that all observers are not led by the same physical evidence to the same picture of the universe,
unless their linguistic backgrounds are similar.
This allows for a different view of one’s relationship to reality, and to the role of language in this
relationship. After all, the linguistic distinctions that we use so frequently lead us to believe that
the world is really made up of all those things that I talk about all day. This may be why our language
has all the terms that it does—so we can refer to this huge variety of things out there.
Quotation
The crucial point to be considered in a study of language behaviour is the relationship between
language and reality, between words and not words. Except as we understand this relationship,
we run the grave risk of straining the delicate connection between words and facts, of permitting
our words to go wild, and so of creating for ourselves fabrications of fantasy and delusion.
Wendell Johnson
References
Farb, P, Word Play: What Happens When People Talk, (1993) Vintage Books, ISBN 0679734082
Minsky, M, The Society of Mind, (1988) Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0671657135
Hayakawa, AR & SI, Language in Thought and Action, (1991) Harcourt Brace, ISBN 0156482401
Lesson 7: Words and not Words: an Exercise in Describing and Listening
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Lesson 10: Thinking Logically?
Context
This lesson can be done after a consideration of the nature of reasoning, or before looking at
fallacies. It links into work on scientific methodology.
Aim
y To investigate the extent to which logical thinking is influenced by the subject matter.
Class Management
This lesson can be completed in 40 minutes, or longer if necessary.
In advance of the lesson, photocopy the two Logic Tests overleaf. You will need one copy of the
two tests for each student. Students may be given the two problems at the same time (on the
same sheet of paper), or one following the other.
Ask the students to work out and write down their answers without collaborating, and then to
report them back to the whole class. Compile a list of votes for each card on the blackboard.
Overwhelmingly, students fail to identify the 7 as one of the correct responses in Logic Test 1.
Explain to the class why 7 is correct (this card is capable of falsifying the rule) and why 2 is wrong
(this card is irrelevant to the rule).
Students normally identify the correct answers for Logic Test 2.
Discussion can then proceed as to why, given that the two problems are formally identical, one is
so much easier to solve correctly than the other. Reference can be made to the importance of
form and content in logical reasoning, and how this may affect the building of knowledge.
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Focus Activity
Student Handout
Logic Test 1
You are presented with the following rule:
Every card with a vowel on one side has an even number on the reverse side.
These are the cards.
Which two cards should be turned over in order to find out if this rule is indeed the case?
U G 7 2
Logic Test 2
You are a barperson in a night-club. The club has the following rule:
Every person drinking alcohol must be over 20 years of age.
These are the four situations.
Which two situations should be investigated?
Person
drinking
beer
Person
drinking
lemonade
Person aged
19 years
Person aged
21 years
Lesson 10: Thinking Logically
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Discussion Questions
y Compare your answers for the two examples given. Justify your choices.
y The two examples are formally identical (that is, their underlying structure is the same), yet
many people do not choose the same answers. Why not?
y Might this difference reflect something about human thinking in general? Why is it easier to
spot the correct answers in the second example?
y One view of the nature of science is that scientific activity is primarily about generating
hypotheses and then trying to falsify them. What might these examples have to do with this?
Links to Other Areas of TOK
y What is fallacious reasoning? Why are fallacies so often persuasive and plausible?
y Why is mathematics, as a school subject, so difficult for many students at the advanced
levels?
From Other Times and Places
y In what way, if any, might good reasons vary across cultures?
y Is there knowledge beyond the categories of logic? If so, what are its foundations?
y If arguments in ordinary life are not formally set out so as to exhibit clearly their formal
structure of premises and conclusions, how can this structure be identified?
Quotations
The paradox is now fully established that the utmost abstractions are the true weapon with
which to control our thought of concrete fact.
A N Whitehead
If a man can play the true logician, and have as well judgement as invention, he may do great
matters.
Francis Bacon
It is not therefore the object of logic to determine whether conclusions be true or false; but
whether what are asserted to be conclusions are conclusions.
A de Morgan
Lesson 10: Thinking Logically
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References
The examples given here are adapted from tests devised by Peter Wason of University College,
London. Most authors refer to them as Wason Tests. The following four books all refer to them
in somewhat differing contexts.
Plotkin, H, Darwin Machines and the Nature of Knowledge, (1997) Harvard University Press, ISBN
0674192818
Wolpert, L, The Unnatural Nature of Science, (1994) Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674929810
Ridley, M, The Red Queen, (1995) Penguin, ISBN 0140245480
Gardner, H, The Mind’s New Science—A History of the Cognitive Revolution, (1987) Basic Books, ISBN
0465046355
Note: Plotkin’s book includes a résumé of the research of L Cosmides in taking this work further,
into what Cosmides calls the logic of social exchange. The TOK teacher could perhaps
investigate the relevance of this statement.
Lesson 10: Thinking Logically
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Lesson 11: Routes of Mathematical
Knowledge
Context
There is a tendency in many TOK discussions to perceive the rational as Western and the
non-rational as belonging to the non-Western.
Most students tend to think of knowledge systems as being fully formed and sprung upon them.
This lesson allows the student to explore the development of a system of knowledge.
Students also assume that knowledge systems are pure, and that they have a life of their own. As
assessment questions sometimes ask students if knowledge can be affected by culture or other
influences, this lesson reveals that knowledge systems like mathematics and logic can respond to
political, economic and cultural influences, by offering the dual perspectives of Asian and
European politics.
Aims
y To follow the development of both Asian and European frameworks for mathematical
knowledge, and to explore the possibility of a common heritage.
y To reveal the stages of formation in a system of knowledge.
y To challenge the assumption that rationalism is a Western product.
Class Management
This activity might involve a visit to the library, followed by the return to the classroom. About
half an hour could be spent creating a timeline and making a web of exchanges of knowledge.
The rest of the lesson or part of the next can be spent in discussion of the questions.
Focus Activity
Step One
Give each student an index card with one of the following research topics on it. Send the
students to the library to research (date and place) their topic for about 20 minutes. An
encyclopaedia will be the best source of reference as there is insufficient time for extensive
research.
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Suggested Research Items
y Infinity y Zero y Calculus
y Trigonometry y Geometry y Probability
y Algorithm y Chaos Theory y Ramanujan
y Euclid y Omar Khayyam y Decimal system
y Algebra y Pythagoras’ Theorem y Abacus
Step Two
Each student should describe his/her findings and place the topic on a timeline on the board—so
creating the periods of knowledge development and points of transference.
Step Three
Examine the completed timeline. Discuss the origins of each topic and any interdevelopment.
Discussion Questions
Conventional division of the mathematical history timeline separates into periods: earliest times
to ancient Babylonia and Egypt, the Greek contribution, the Far-Eastern and Semitic, and the
European from the Renaissance onwards.
1 Can mathematical knowledge be called the most international of all systems of knowledge?
2 Does Western mathematical theory diverge from Eastern mathematical theory? Explain your
answer.
3 The development of mathematical knowledge is often illustrated by a tree diagram (that is,
roots labelled as arithmetic, the trunk labelled as calculus). Mathematical scholars often select
the banyan tree as the best tree for such an illustration. Why might this be so?
4 Why is the vast Asian learning in mathematics so little known in the rest of the world?
5 Asian students are expected to do well in mathematics. What is the basis of this expectation?
6 What assumptions are challenged by the brief research the students did?
7 Is mathematics invented or discovered?
Links to Other Areas of TOK
y What is the role of inductive and deductive reasoning in mathematical knowledge?
y What is the connection between mathematics and logic?
y How do you explain the impact of culture or politics on mathematical knowledge?
y What is mathematical truth?
y Are the conclusions of mathematics concerned with truth or validity?
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From Other Times and Places
y Pythagoras (or his school) is recognized for the theorem relating the lengths of the sides of a
right-angled triangle (that the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to
the sum of the squares on the other two sides). It should be noted, however, that this was
known in China some 400 years before Pythagoras. It is thought that Pythagoras’ discovery
was independent of the claim of the Chinese. This example, along with others (Newton and
Leibnitz are given credit for their independent discoveries of calculus during the nineteenth
century) supports the argument that mathematics more or less exists in nature and is waiting
to be discovered.
y Enrichment was provided unexpectedly in this class when a Ghanaian student researched
oracle bones as a means of mathematical measure and told us their purpose. Students from
other cultures—such as Korean and Japanese and Latin American—might wish to investigate
their own culture’s contribution to mathematical knowledge.
Quotation
When a flower brings forth a blossom with six-fold symmetry, is it doing mathematics?
from ‘A Physicist Looks at Mathematics’, Philip J Davis & Reuben Hersh
References
Davis, PJ & Hersh, R, The Mathematical Experience, (1999) Mariner Books, ISBN 0395929687
McLeish, J, Number, (1992) Flamingo, ISBN 0006544843
Joseph, GG, The Crest of the Peacock, (1991) Penguin, ISBN 0140125299
Lesson 11: Routes of Mathematical Knowledge
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Lesson 12: Is Math for Real?
(a TOK Quiz for Mathematical Knowledge)
Context
This lesson serves as an introduction to a unit on mathematical knowledge. It could be presented
at any time during the TOK course, but is best given after a unit on reasoning.
Aims
y To reflect on the nature and formation of mathematical knowledge.
y To develop arguments for and against various issues surrounding the formation of
mathematical knowledge.
Class Management
The lesson requires one 40–60 minute period for a class of 12 to 20 students, divided into groups
of three. Each member of the group should receive a copy of the quiz and be allowed 15–20
minutes to complete it and discuss the how and why of their answers within the group.
Members of each group are encouraged to compare and contrast their answers with those of
other members in the group.
At least 20 minutes should be allowed for class discussion. One can normally expect a fair
amount of class interaction with arguments and counter-arguments being presented. Because
some questions tend to result in rather predictable answers, the teacher, as the discussion leader,
must be prepared with supporting examples in mind.
Focus Activity
The following two pages comprise the quiz. A copy should be given to each student.
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Student Handout
Lesson 12: Is Math for Real? (a TOK Quiz for Mathematical Knowledge)
Teacher Support Material—Theory of Knowledge Lessons from Around the World © IBO, November 2000 Lesson 12—page 2
A TOK Quiz for Mathematical Knowledge
Circle the letter(s) of the appropriate answer(s) for each of the following. Discuss these answers
with the people in your group and prepare to give supporting arguments for your selections.
1 Mathematics is a subject about:
A logical thinking
B illogical thinking
C things that exist in nature
D things that do not really exist at all
E things that are certain
F things that are not certain.
2 Problems in mathematics can best be solved by using:
A clever tricks
B experiments
C computers
D graphic calculators
E trial and error
F investigations
G discussion
H the answers in the back of the textbook.
3 Mathematics is a subject that should be studied by:
A people who are interested in it
B engineers and other people who want to apply it
C people who are challenged by it
D people who want to become better thinkers
E people who are intrigued by its aesthetic qualities
F people who want to become better artists
G people who want to improve their overall academic performance
H people who want to improve their college entrance exams
I all Diploma Programme candidates
J people who are poor at it.
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Lesson 12: Is Math for Real? (a TOK Quiz for Mathematical Knowledge)
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4 Which of the following best describes mathematics?
A a body of knowledge
B a practical tool
C a cornerstone of philosophy
D the perfection of the logical method
E the key to understanding nature
F an intellectual game
G an aesthetic experience.
5 One plus one is:
A always equal to two
B sometimes equal to two
C never equal to two
D too philosophical to think about.
6 Parallel lines:
6 never intersect
7 always intersect
8 do not exist.
7 Which of the following quotations best captures the essence of mathematics?
A A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn’t there.
Charles Darwin
B Pure math is a game. It’s fun to play. We play it for its own sake. It’s more fun than
applying it. Most of the math that I teach is never used by anyone. Ever.
Ted Williams, Prep School Mathematics Teacher
C If you ask your mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she gives you two fried eggs and you
eat both of them, who is better in arithmetic, you or your mother?
Carl Sandburg
D Mathematics is a game played according to certain simple rules with meaningless marks on paper.
David Hilbert
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Discussion Questions
Comments for the teacher’s use:
1 Do any mathematical statements seem illogical at first glance? Why, for example, do we say
¾ ½ = ¾ 2?
It will be difficult to associate all aspects of mathematics with natural phenomena. Try
finding in a natural setting. 1 i
Mathematics is not the total solution that some people claim it to be. It has been found
(Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem) that any system of logic (mathematics included) will by
its very nature be incomplete. That is to say, certain questions will be unanswerable. Consider
the following paradox:
If the Barber of Seville shaves all men in Seville who do not shave themselves, then who
shaves the Barber?
Can we apply this question to the formation of mathematical knowledge? For example, is
mathematical knowledge formed in some experimental manner?
2 What is the basis of the formation of mathematical knowledge?
3–4 Who is interested in mathematical knowledge and why?
May mathematicians consider theorems like Euclid’s or other mathematical proofs to be
works of art?
Why must all Diploma Programme candidates take mathematics? Perhaps justification comes
with the choice of answers for question 4, most of which come from a description of
mathematics by Morris Kline.
5 Is A the obvious answer here?
After all, Bertrand Russell took 362 pages in Principia Mathematica to prove that 1 + 1 = 2.
And we can certainly think of examples of nature from the very simple to the complex where
the meaning of ‘to add’ does not function in the usual mathematical sense. Consider, for
example: What is the sum of one drop of water with another drop of water? This example
may seem trivial, but it must not be quickly dismissed. The branch of mathematics known as
Chaos Theory was developed only when mathematicians were able to see that 1 + 1 does not
always equal 2 in the natural world (see The Meaning of ‘To Add’: The Mathematical Experience, by
Davis and Hersh).
6 Students are often surprised to learn that all three answers may be correct, as they tend to live
in some sort of Euclidean world. See notes in ‘From Other Times and Places’.
7 The real issue in this question is one of truth. What kind of truth are we talking about?
Links to Other Areas of TOK
y How does the formation of mathematical knowledge differ from that of scientific knowledge
and historical knowledge?
y What role does logic play in the formation of mathematical knowledge?
y How does mathematical proof compare to proofs in other forms of knowledge?
y What is the value of acquiring mathematical knowledge?
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From Other Times and Places
Most of the geometry taught in schools is based upon the work Euclid undertook over 2000
years ago. However, in the early nineteenth century brilliant mathematicians altered the work of
Euclid and formed geometries that gave rise to mathematical knowledge seemingly contrary to
that of Euclid. The two mathematicians who formed these non-Euclidean geometries were
Riemann and Lobachevsky. Examples of different conclusions reached by the three geometries
include:
more than 180° less than 180° equal to 180° The sum of the angles of a
triangle are…
do not exist always intersect do not intersect Parallel lines…
Riemannian Lobachevskian Euclidean
Riemann and Lobachevsky came to these different conclusions by falsifying Euclid’s 5th
postulate (through any point on a plane there is one and only one line parallel to a given line).
When this postulate was replaced with other postulates, the entire system of axioms remained
consistent, and eventually gave rise to different conclusions. This example shows that how we
describe the world mathematically is not necessarily dictated by nature.
Quotations
Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking
about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
Bertrand Russell
The most distinct and beautiful statements of any truth must take at last the mathematical form.
Henry David Thoreau
How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought independent of
experience, is so admirably adapted to the objects of reality?
Albert Einstein
References
Davis, PJ & Hersh, R, The Mathematical Experience, (1999) Mariner Books, ISBN 0395929687
Eves, HW, An Introduction to the History of Mathematics, 6th edition, (1990) College Pub, ISBN
0030295580
Kline, M, Mathematics in Western Culture, (1965) Oxford University Press, ISBN 019500714X
Russell, B, Principia Mathematica, (1997) Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521626064
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Lesson 13: Numbers and Numerals
Context
Most of us are so familiar with the system of numerals we use that it is hard for us to appreciate
certain features of that very system. In order to highlight these features, this lesson asks students
to design their own system of numerals. In this way, shortcomings and ambiguities in what they
create can demonstrate more clearly the necessary characteristics of an effective system for
representation and manipulation of numbers.
As numbers are so fundamental to mathematics, this lesson could serve as an introduction to that
area of knowledge in the Theory of Knowledge guide.
Aims
y To distinguish between numbers and the symbols which represent them.
y To make evident some of the assumptions embedded in our use of numerals.
y To recreate and highlight some of the great leaps forward in number representation
throughout the history of mathematics.
Class Management
Divide the class into small groups. Hand out some paper for rough work. Provide a transparency
and markers so that each group can present its scheme to the class.
It is important to allow sufficient time for sharing of students’ work across groups since it is here
that the lesson’s aims can largely be fulfilled. Suggested time allocations are:
y 30 minutes for devising a system
y 30 minutes for presenting the systems to the other groups
y 20 minutes for summing up.
One copy of the following focus activity and discussion questions should be given to each group.
The student handout Numeral Systems from Different Parts of the World provided with this
lesson plan could serve as a follow-up homework assignment to be discussed in the next session.
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Focus Activity
Give the students the following task:
1 To invent a series of symbols to represent numbers.
These symbols should not be the same as any numeral system known to them.
The number of different symbols and how they may be combined with one another (if at
all) is entirely their choice.
2 To explain their numeral system to another group of students.
To show their audience how to represent:
‚ Three
‚ Forty-five
‚ Twenty
‚ One hundred and seventeen
3 Devise a series of problems for other students to solve, using their system of symbols.
Discussion Questions
y What is the advantage of employing place value?
y Why does the number system which we generally use have base 10?
y What is the advantage of having a numeral for zero?
y Is there a difference between zero and nothing?
Teacher Notes
A set of assumptions will probably manifest itself. These assumptions generally involve the
following concepts.
y Place Value: the meaning of a given symbol changes according to its position in the numeral
sequence representing the number.
y Base 10: the value of a given symbol increases tenfold for every single shift of position to the
left.
y Zero: students often omit a symbol for zero in their initial scheme, but invent one when its
desirability becomes clear.
Links to Other Areas of TOK
y Can we think of mathematics as a language? Which features of language does it possess?
Look closely at the following quotation. Do you agree with it?
Numbers constitute the only universal language.
Nathaniel West
y Many words refer to objects or classes of objects in the world (that is, they have a
denotation). What do numerals denote or refer to?
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From Other Times and Places
Homework Assignment
Consider the information supplied on the handout Numeral Systems from Different Parts of the
World.
Prepare responses to these questions.
y How many symbols are needed in each system?
y Does the system use a base? If so, what is it?
y Does it employ place value?
y Does it use a zero?
y Where exactly did each of these civilizations exist?
y What do the dates associated with the development of each number system suggest?
Quotations
One, two, buckle my shoe; three, four, knock at the door. Nursery Rhyme
Philosophy is written in this grand book, the universe, which stands continually open to our
gaze. But the book cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language
and read the letters in which it is composed. It is written in the language of mathematics.
Galileo
References
McLeish, J, Number, (1991) Flamingo, ISBN 0006544843
Joseph, GG, The Crest of the Peacock, (1991) Penguin, ISBN 0140125299
Lesson 13: Numbers and Numerals
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Student Handout
Numeral Systems from Different Parts of the World
Lesson 13: Numbers and Numerals
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Lesson 14: A Show of Hands
Context
This lesson can be used as an introduction to TOK work on perception, since it addresses the
following questions.
y How far do we trust and rely on our sensory perceptions?
y How does our knowledge change when our perceptions are shown to be wrong?
Aims
y To examine the nature and reliability of knowledge gained by perception.
y To examine the relationship between perception, knowledge and belief.
Class Management
Students should not be forewarned of this activity. Total time should involve no more than
30–40 minutes including 5–10 minutes to photocopy hands and retrieve the copy. The remaining
25–30 minutes should be used for class discussion.
Focus Activity
Take the class to an available photocopier. Have the students remove all rings and bracelets.
Photocopy the right hand of every student. Work out some method of identifying (only for the
teacher) which copy belongs to which student.
Move back to the classroom. Lay out the copies on desks in a random order and allow the
students five minutes to identify and retrieve their hand.
Lead the class in a discussion of what led them to think that they had identified the correct hand
as their own. Reserve the correct identification until after students have had some time to explain
why they feel they have identified their own hand. Reveal the correct and incorrect choices, then
discuss how their perception was correct or faulty.
Discussion Questions
y How did you form your hypothesis about which copy was yours and which ones were not?
y What factors influenced your final decision?
y Was your final choice a matter of picking what was left after eliminating all the obviously
incorrect, or was a different process at work?
y What different types of perception were involved in your choice?
y What types of evidence were involved in your choice?
y If you picked incorrectly, how and why was your knowledge false? Is there such a thing as
false knowledge?
y What does this exercise suggest about the knowledge gained from perception? How reliable
is it? Is something more than perception necessary for knowledge to be gained?
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Links to Other Areas of TOK
Perception
y In which areas of knowledge is perception essential for the acquisition of that knowledge?
y Is there such a thing as knowledge which is independent of perception? If so, what sort of
knowledge would it be?
Knowers and Knowing
y What, if anything, is the difference between believing and knowing?
The Arts
y What kinds of accurate and informative statements do images convey?
From Other Times and Places
Plato’s Cave (c350BCE) examines the question of image and reality—what is real and what is
merely a shadow of what is real. Well-known visually ambiguous illustrations, by Escher, for
example, could be used to reinforce the aims of the lesson.
As technology and multimedia become more prevalent in education and in students’ lives, will
there be a parallel increase in relying on graphical information to make judgments?
Quotations
To know and yet think we do not know is the highest attainment. Not to know and yet think
we do know is a disease.
Lao-Tzu
All human knowledge is uncertain, inexact and partial. Bertrand Russell
He walked toward the sheets of flame. They did not bite his flesh, they caressed him and
flooded him without heat or combustion. With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he
understood that he also was an illusion, that someone else was dreaming him.
Jorge Luis Borges
References
Abel, R, Man is the Measure (Chapter 3 and 4), (1997) Free Press, ISBN 068483636X
Discovering Psychology Series, Film 7, Sensation and Perception
National Geographic Video, The Invisible World
Gaarder, J, Sophie’s World, (1996) Boulevard (Mass Market), ISBN 0425152251
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Lesson 15: Myths and Fairy Tales
Context
Many students regard myths and fairy tales as sources of purely fictional entertainment. Yet they
have been and still are an important source of knowledge and understanding.
Students should consider the ways in which myths and fairy tales might be understood as part of
history, psychology, religion and, of course, the use of myth as a pejorative term to indicate
falsehood. What sort of understanding is provided by myths? What truths, if any, do they contain
and if they contain truths, how can they be verified? How much of what we think to be
knowledge or reasonable belief today might, on closer analysis, turn out to have been myth (in
the pejorative sense)?
When we realize and reflect upon the universal importance and presence of myths in human
civilization, we can be brought to realize the deep human need for qualitative maps of reality to
complement the purely quantitative maps of reality provided by the physical sciences. We might
also realize the equally dangerous consequences of neglecting the quantitative maps of reality.
Students may be brought to realize that our knowledge and understanding requires a sensitive
balance between the powers of imagination and those of reason—that upsetting the balance can
lead either on the one hand to impersonal, inhuman forms of understanding and knowledge or,
on the other, to the equally oppressive tyranny of fiction and fantasy.
Aims
y To analyse the nature of myths and fairy tales as sources of knowledge and understanding
about ourselves and our environment.
y To compare the knowledge and understanding which can be gained from these sources with
scientific knowledge and understanding.
Class Management
Teachers need only familiarize themselves with a few myths and fairy tales and bring examples in
to their class. If further research is required they could turn to writings by Bruno Bettleheim, Carl
Jung and Joseph Campbell.
Focus Activity
Ask the students to collect together as many myths and/or fairy tales as they can and bring them
to the next lesson. Try to resist requests for further clarification of the task, because it is to be
hoped that there will be a variety of interpretations as to what a myth and what a fairy tale is,
which will be reflected when the material is presented. This can form a starting point for a
discussion of their nature and epistemological status.
Ensure that you bring your own selection of myths and fairy tales from your own and other
cultures. You may wish to bring some writings on myths and fairy tales to stimulate some more
discussion.
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Discussion Questions
1 What is a myth?
You may wish to point out the etymological origin of the English word “myth”, namely from
the Greek “mythos” meaning a speech/utterance/word in the sense of a story. This contrasts
with “logos”, meaning “word” in the sense of rational discourse, discussion, argument.
Myths, in one sense, are concerned with storytelling, giving meaning, purpose, value and
direction to our lives (that is, qualitative forms of understanding and knowledge). This
contrasts with the sciences, which are not normally concerned with questions of human or
divine purpose or value judgement, but are rather seen as providing only quantitative maps of
reality. These assumptions can, of course, be challenged.
2 Can myths provide a way of understanding (ourselves and our world) that is complementary
to that provided by logic, science, social science and religion (with which myths are so
intimately connected)?
Myths are often concerned with explaining the origins of features of our landscape. The
explanation might give an account of how, for example, a mountain, rock or river acquired
the features it now possesses. Or myths might relate to features of animals, such as the claws
of a lion, the stripes of a tiger, or the spots of a leopard. Or they might relate to human
characteristics—such as the origin of a race, nation or tribe. Or they might relate to
metaphysical and ontological concerns such as why humans are so powerful and destructive.
What explains the origin of our propensity for good and evil? What is the origin of moral
principles? Why is there suffering? Why is happiness so fleeting?
Myths and fairy tales have provided answers which are characteristically anthropomorphic.
They provide answers that are stories. Can they be regarded as true or valid in any sense, now
that the sciences (both physical and social) have come to dominate all our accepted means of
understanding and explaining?
3 To what degree is it possible and desirable to arrive at explanations and knowledge of our
world that are free of all human value judgements and perspectives? Can science ever be
value-free and totally objective?
4 What are the comparative roles of reason and imagination in science and in myths and fairy
tales?
Links to Other Areas of TOK
Myths and fairy tales can be linked to many elements of TOK. Do myths, for example, contain
their own logic? How can we define a mythological use of language; and how are mythological
and religious forms of language related?
Myths and fairy tales provide potential sources of understanding and knowledge of our
environment which may or may not be compatible with those provided by the sciences. The same
could be said of our understanding of ourselves.
In some human sciences, such as psychology, myths and fairy tales have assumed great
importance: for example, in Freudian and Jungian psychoanalysis as the archetypes of the
unconscious. In the study of history, myths and mythological language play a major role.
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From Other Times and Places
Modern Myths: what myths (in the sense of stories that are assumed to be true, but have little or
no evidence or reasonable justification to support them) are there today in society? Possible
examples may include the popularity of the supernatural, phenomena such as fortune telling and
psychic powers, also the fascination with UFOs and crop circles, and modern mythologies such
as the Star Wars trilogy and Star Trek in many Western countries. This fascination could be
related to a human reaction against the cold, impersonal, rational picture of reality presented by
the physical sciences, with UFOs replacing visitations by gods to compensate for our loneliness in
a meaningless universe devoid of purpose.
Another example of modern mythology might be the rise in popularity of New Age religions and
the revival of talk of Mother Earth (a delicate, creative, female life force) in response to
environmental concerns and the destructive effects of understanding the earth in purely
mechanical, materialistic, scientific terms. Again, this concerns the difference between qualitative
and quantitative forms of knowledge and understanding.
There are many possibilities for classroom activities, from discussions to debates to dramatic
representations of myths. Could one say that myth and the arts are closely intertwined, where one
is re-enacting a story or a drama, weaving together meaning and purpose, in contrast to science,
which appears unable to articulate understanding into drama and appears unable to give direction
and purpose to human knowledge?
Quotation
Fairy tales or fairy land is nothing but the sunny country of common sense . . . the world is a
wild, startling and delightful place which could have been otherwise . . . fairy tales provide a
certain way of looking at life: certain things are necessary (in the sense that it cannot be
imagined otherwise) in nature. There is no necessary law saying that eggs must turn into
birds or that fruit falls in Autumn. The explanation of such events is magic, just like the
answer to the question why do mice turn into horses in Cinderella.
… Nature is best explained by fairy book terms: ‘charm’, ‘spell’, ‘enchantment’ (rather than
‘laws’, ‘necessity’, ‘tendency’ et cetera), for they express the arbitrariness of the facts of
nature and their mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree; water runs downhill
because it is bewitched, et cetera.
… This elementary wonder, however, is not mere fancy derived from the fairy tales; on the
contrary, all the fire of the fairy tales is derived from this . . . This is proved by the fact that
when we are very young children we do not need fairy tales. Mere life is interesting enough.
… Nursery tales only echo an almost pre-natal leap of interest and amazement. These tales
say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they
were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild
moment, that they run with water.’
Orthodoxy, GK Chesterton
Reference
Bettelheim, B, The Uses of Enchantment, (1989) Vintage Books, ISBN 0679723935
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Lesson 16: Why was Thales Wrong?
Context
This lesson can be used as an introduction to the problems of knowledge in the natural sciences.
Thales (c624–c545BCE) was a Greek philosopher, mathematician and astronomer. He was one
of the Seven Sages named by Plato, and according to Aristotle was the founder of physical
science.
Aim
y To exemplify the test of a scientific hypothesis.
Class Management
One week in advance of the lesson students should be asked to spend some time observing the
night sky. In particular, they should note the pattern of the stars on two occasions on the same
evening, making the second observation about two hours after the first.
The lesson will take 40 to 60 minutes, including the initial 15 minute presentation by the teacher.
An OHP and screen will be required, and the transparencies (Thales OHPs 1, 2 and 3), included
with this lesson.
Focus Activity
Begin the lesson by discussing how the pattern of the stars appears to move in great circles (OHP
1). Continue by describing Thales’s explanation of this phenomenon (OHP 2). The key features
are as follows.
y The bowl of the sky which holds in the waters which surround the land.
y The eternal fires which burn outside the sphere.
y The windows through which the fires are glimpsed. The little fires are the stars.
y The God who turns the bowl carrying the stars and so causes the nightly rotation of the
pattern of the stars.
Discussion Questions
Most of the discussion will be directed by student answers to the question “Why was Thales
wrong?” The discussion might proceed as follows.
y The little windows will let in water as the sphere turns below the horizon. Be unfair and point
out that portholes do not leak.
y A God turning a handle is not science. What other mechanism could there be? Does it
matter?
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y What about the sun or moon? Point out that Thales is attempting to explain the movement
of the stars, not objects very different in appearance.
y What about the little fires in the sky? Do they all move in the same way?
y Why do the planets not follow this pattern? The Greeks called them planetes, or wanderers
(OHP 3).
y Was Thales wrong because his explanation did not fit the facts?
y Are you sure he was wrong?
Links to Other Areas of TOK
y Are disciplines other than cosmology equally susceptible to extraordinary knowledge claims?
From Other Times and Places
y Thales’s explanation is an example of a hypothesis which was a product of its time. How
does this compare with other explanations offered in the past?
y Can you identify historical examples of seemingly wild claims later being substantiated?
y Can you think of contemporary explanations of natural phenomena which might be ridiculed
in the distant future?
Quotation
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
References
Koestler, A The Sleepwalkers (1959) Penguin Books
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Thales: OHP 1
Pole Star
Why does the night sky do what it does?
A first observation
The pattern of stars appears to rotate to the right. The pattern remains the same
with all of the individual stars appearing to make a circular movement around the
pole star.
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Thales: OHP 2
The bowl is turned nightly, carrying the pattern of little fires in great circles around
the axis. The stars are glimpses of the eternal fire seen through little ‘windows’ in
the bowl of night and day.
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BURNING OUTSIDE
THE BOWL
BOWL IS
TURNED NIGHTLY
E
ETERNAL FIRES
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Thales: OHP 3
Not all of the little fires move in great circles. A small number loop back on
themselves. The Greeks called them planetes, or wanderers.
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Lesson 17: One Person’s Hypothesis is
Another Person’s Dogma…
Context
Many students think of hypotheses as belonging only to science, but the idea of educated
guessing and testing belongs to nearly all ways of knowing. Students should consider the number
of ways in which belief might be understood. Check to see if the term initially carries only
religious connotations. This lesson can be helpful almost anywhere in the course.
Aim
y To examine how hypotheses, and the beliefs that underlie them, are formed.
Class Management
The lesson could be managed in one class period of 50 minutes, but two would be preferable.
Prepare multiple copies of the student handout.
Divide the class into groups of no more than four students. Distribute the handout and allow the
class time to read it. Depending on the total number of students, discussion can be a whole class
debate, or as parallel debates.
Focus Activity
Refer to the student handout.
How is the Activity Introduced?
Simply say that students will discuss and debate a position they may find difficult or unusual, and
that they should defend their hypothesis until such time as another group gives them irrefutable
proof that they are wrong.
Assign each group a hypothesis (A or B or C). Instruct them to imagine all the possible reasons
they could give in defence of their hypothesis.
Teacher Notes
Students may need some advice as to possible strategies to defend their position. For instance,
group A could add to their hypothesis the theory that there are nocturnal and diurnal properties
that explain why night and day have this effect, but that also explain the behaviour when
anomalies occur, such as fire making it rise at night, and cold water making it drop in the day
time. This makes their position almost impregnable. C should be asked to remember that their
spirits are capricious, which destroys any attempt to subvert their hypothesis with the systematic
behaviour of the thermometer… And so on…
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Student Handout
The Three Martians
Three Martians, A, B and C, were crossing the Great Victoria Desert when they came upon an
object (a thermometer) which had possibly been lost by an explorer.
Having observed it for a few days, they realize that there is something inside it (the column of
mercury) which at different times can be seen to be in different positions.
They discuss the possible reasons for such strange behaviour.
A proposes the hypothesis that the behaviour is related to the time of day. This would explain
why at night the column drops, and why it rises during the day.
B suggests that the reason must be heat and cold, which also would explain why it drops at night
and rises during the day.
C says that both A and B are wrong. The real reason for the movement lies in the nature of the
enclosed substance that is animated by invisible spirits who adopt a capricious behaviour when
imprisoned. These spirits make the substance rise or fall whenever they feel like it. This would
explain what both the other hypotheses have explained; moreover, it would explain any
variation, at any time and under any circumstances.
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Discussion Questions
y How is each hypothesis formed? How do they differ? Why do they differ if all three are
Martians?
y What are the roles of intuition, prejudice, inductive and deductive thinking in forming the
hypotheses?
y What assumptions or beliefs are behind each hypothesis? How do these beliefs affect the
questions the Martians will ask?
y What are the virtues of each hypothesis?
y How would you test each hypothesis? How would the Martians test the hypotheses?
y What would count as evidence against each hypothesis? Of what, in fact, would you have to
convince each person?
y Suppose you agree with B. Could you help her convince A and C that their hypotheses are
false? Of what, in fact, would you have to convince C?
y What are the requirements of any hypothesis in science?
y What is the demarcation, if any, between scientific and pseudo-scientific knowledge claims?
Additional Questions
Depending on the level of the students, the following more sophisticated questions can be raised.
y Do you experience the learning of scientific knowledge in school as resting on foundational
beliefs about the natural world?
y Can we think of any knowledge claim that does not make a foundational or basic assumption
even though it may not be apparent?
y If all our claims to knowledge are built upon basic beliefs about reality, how can we ever
change our point of view? Does innovation come about from those who are aware that
behind all our interpretations are assumptions that both allow knowledge and hinder it?
From Other Times and Places
Plato’s student Aristotle explained gravity (the phenomenon of falling objects, if you like) by
saying that things sought their natural place in the universe. This was also the reason for flames
rising as they aspired to be with the sun. What a beautiful idea compared to our present views on
this. What view of the world allows for this notion of things that seek or aspire to be somewhere
else? Are there no beliefs lying behind the notion of the force of gravity, or of curved space?
That previously held beliefs are the basis of our claims about the world can already be found in
Hume’s Critique of Induction. It might be worth a teacher exploring questions in relation to the
Principle of Uniformity, or the Principle of Causality.
Teachers might want to explore further the work of Kwasi Winedu, University of Ghana, for
differences and similarities between traditional and scientific societies in forming and testing
hypotheses.
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Links to Other Areas of TOK
Nearly all areas of TOK are touched by this exercise.
y In language, the various meanings of belief should be noted. For instance, the phrase “I
believe” does not carry an identical meaning in the context of “I believe in God” to its use in
the context of “I believe in honesty”.
y In reason, could we have argument at all without premises? If we did not have basic beliefs,
would we not be caught in an infinite regression?
y In the human sciences, do different cultural beliefs lead to different values and hypotheses
for explaining behaviour?
y In history, students might try to find areas where hypotheses are formed and tested in ways
similar to or different from those identified for the focus lesson. How do beliefs about the
past influence enquiry in ways perhaps not realized by the scholar?
y The arts do not make claims in quite the same way, but do schools of painting or literature
have basic tenets that guide their activity?
y In ethics, there is fertile ground for discussion of beliefs underlying moral action. For
instance, are beliefs about what is of value central to forming a code of morality?
Quotations
The great tragedy of Science—the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
TH Huxley
Man is a credulous animal and must believe in something; in the absence of good grounds for
belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
Bertrand Russell
References
Olen, J, Persons and Their World, (1983) McGraw Hill College Div, ISBN 0075543117
Miller, M, Introduction to Logic, Living Logic, (1978)
Anderson, WT, Reality Isn’t What It Used To Be, (1992) Harper Collins, ISBN 0062500171
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Lesson 18: Scientific Claims: an African
Perspective
Context
Certain knowledge claims are reliably supported by scientific activity. On the other hand, certain
traditional beliefs are justified in a less rigorous manner, although there are similarities in the ways
in which each claim might have come into existence: repeated observation, generalization,
inspired ideas, or prediction and explanation.
Given these similarities between the origin of scientific claims and these other traditional beliefs,
how do we know what counts as science?
y By the subject matter?
y By the nature of the explanation? By the theory or law involved?
y By the proofs?
y Or just by belief?
Aim
y To investigate what constitutes a scientific knowledge claim and whether such claims can be
differentiated from other sorts of claims.
Class Management
The activity could be completed in about one and a half hours.
This activity lends itself well to work in small groups. It might be advisable to mix the
membership of each group so as to spread the science-inclined students and any particular
national or cultural groups. On the other hand, concentrating such differences in particular
groups may enrich a subsequent discussion between groups.
Encourage students beforehand to bring examples of taboos or superstitions to the class.
Focus Activity
Which of the following can be regarded as scientific claims?
1 During the first seven days after birth, it is dangerous to expose a child to the outdoors or to
strangers.
2 When a man and a woman both have sickle-cell anaemia, it is dangerous for them to have
children.
3 Singing while bathing is dangerous.
4 Bringing bundles of firewood from the farm into the village is dangerous.
5 Smoking cigarettes is dangerous.
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6 Cutting a tree in the forest without performing certain rites is dangerous.
7 Fishing on Tuesdays is dangerous.
8 A live, non-insulated electric wire is dangerous to touch.
9 Pounding fufu after dark is dangerous.
10 Driving after drinking alcohol is dangerous.
Teacher Notes
1 In Ghana, infants are not displayed to the public or indeed officially named until
(traditionally) eight days after birth. This takes place at an outdooring ceremony. Various
explanations are concerned with high infant mortality rates in the past, or with the infant’s
susceptibility to infection. Thus there may be a social or a biological basis, or both, or
something else—symbolic?
2 Sickle-cell anaemia is a genetically transmitted blood disorder particularly prevalent in
sub-Saharan Africa. When two carriers (that is, having sickle-cell anaemia), each possessing
only one copy of the faulty gene (and thus not seriously affected) have children, the chances
of any one child having full sickle cell anaemia is 25%. The carrier condition confers extra
resistance to malaria, and this is the reason for the high incidence of the gene in this part of
the world.
3 This is an old Akan taboo from Ghana, possibly related to the toxicity of the soap used in the
past.
4 Tied bundles of firewood could conceal weapons, or could provide a route for snakes to
enter the village undetected.
5 No note required.
6 There may possibly be some connection with the conservation of forests, especially given the
importance of a stock of plant species for herbal medicinal purposes.
7 The Ga of southern Ghana do not fish on Tuesdays—origins in conservation or social
cohesion . . .?
8 As 5.
9 Fufu is a Ghanaian food preparation consisting of ground cassava, yam, cocoyam or plantain
which is pounded into a starchy paste, shaped into gelatinous balls and served with a spicy
soup containing fish or meat. Pounding after dark would require artificial lighting which
might attract insects into the mixture. Alternatively, a lack of light would prevent the people
involved from seeing what was happening to the dough. Also, pounding fufu is a noisy
activity…
10 As 5 and 8.
Discussion Questions
y Consider each of the claims given. Suggest how each of them could have come into
existence. In each case, what sorts of thinking processes and types of reasoning might have
been involved? Observation, generalization, application of generalizations, inspiration…
y Compare your answers for the different claims. Are there aspects of the thinking processes
involved which are common to most or all of them? If so, what are they?
y Is it possible to construct very different, but equally believable, routes by which these claims
could come into existence? Compare different claims here. What problems are there in
suggesting their possible origins?
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y Which of the claims do you regard as being scientific? Justify your answers. Do you have a
single criterion for distinguishing the scientific from the non-scientific? Or is it necessary to
use several criteria? Has the distinction more to do with method or content or result, or
something else?
y If a claim works in everyday life, is there any need for further explanation? Does it matter
what kind of explanation is provided?
y To what extent is each of us as an individual justified in believing each of these claims?
y Why do non-scientific beliefs persist in groups of people familiar with scientific explanation?
y Explanations for taboos are often given in supernatural terms. Is it possible to reconcile
natural and supernatural explanations?
y If science and taboos are both about laws, then how, if at all, do these types of laws differ?
y Is this attempt to rationalize beliefs always justified? Are there beliefs which arose in quite
non-rational ways? If so, how?
Links to Other Areas of TOK
y Does knowledge always require that good reasons be provided?
y In what way, if any, might the phrase “good reasons” vary across cultures?
y What is meant by the scientific method? How is this method traditionally described in
science textbooks? Is this depiction an accurate model of scientific activity or could it be a
distortion?
y How does the social context affect the questions and results of the scientific enterprise?
y What is the demarcation between scientific and pseudo-scientific knowledge claims?
y In the context of attempting to explain and predict human behaviour, what sort of approach
would be most effective? A scientific approach? An approach based on cultural beliefs?
y To what extent is it necessary that a person’s beliefs are consistent?
From Other Times and Places
y List some superstitions or other beliefs from your own background. What sort of claims are
these? How do they compare with the examples here?
y Traditional beliefs are sometimes criticized on the basis that they do not explain things.
Consider Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation. What is and what is not explained here? Is
there a difference between science and medicine in terms of the explanations they aim at or
provide?
Quotations
Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of
stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.
Henri Poincaré
Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense. TH Huxley
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References
Chalmers, AF, What Is This Thing Called Science?, (1999) Hackett Pub Co, ISBN 0872204529
Wolpert, L, The Unnatural Nature of Science, (1994) Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674929810
Feynman, RP, The Character of Physical Law, (1994) Modern Library, ISBN 0679601279
Appleyard, B, Understanding the Present—Science and the Soul of Modern Man, (1992) Picador, ISBN
0330320130
Wiredu, K, Gyekye, K, et al, Person and Community—Ghanaian Philosophical Studies I, (1992) The
Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, ISBN 1565180046
Gyekye, K, An Essay on African Philosophical Thought—The Akan Conceptual Scheme, (1995) Temple
University Press, ISBN 1566393809
Lesson 18: Scientific Claims: an African Perspective
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Lesson 19: The Growth of Scientific
Knowledge
Context
This lesson is best used when the class has already devoted some time to the topic of scientific
knowledge, during which several examples of scientific claims, drawn especially from
experimental science studies, are established.
Aims
y To consider the nature of the growth of knowledge in the natural sciences.
y To develop argument(s) for a particular growth explanation (either presented or created) as
well as arguments against other explanations (either presented or created).
y To compare the growth of scientific knowledge with the growth of knowledge in other areas
of the TOK programme.
y To consider the several ways in which the term “growth” might be used, and how these, in
turn, might influence the conclusions we reach about knowledge.
Class Management
The lesson usually requires 40–60 minutes. The class is best divided into groups of three or four
students. Each member of the group should receive a copy of the student handout, containing
the instructions and The Growth of Scientific Knowledge: An Analysis by Six Scientists.
Each group should be allowed 15–20 minutes to discuss the various interpretations given with
the graphs or to create a graph that better represents the growth of knowledge. Each group must
give reasons in support of their selection as well as reasons why other interpretations were not
selected.
An open discussion should then follow, in which each group’s findings and conclusions are
considered. An abundance of arguments and counter arguments is a good sign.
Focus Activity
The following three pages (one page of instructions and two pages of graphs) should be copied
for each student.
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Student Handout
Lesson 19: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
Teacher Support Material—Theory of Knowledge Lessons from Around the World © IBO, November 2000 Lesson 19—page 2
The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
Instructions
Each of you has been given a set of graphic interpretations put forward by six different scientists
concerning the growth of scientific knowledge.
1 Carefully study each of the interpretations given by the scientists.
2 Discuss these different interpretations with your group and select the one that you find
appropriate. If you find that none of the six ideas is appropriate, and you would like to present
another idea, then clearly illustrate or define your interpretation.
3 Make a brief note of the argument in support of your selection. List at least one reason for
each of the other interpretations as to why it has been rejected. Do not hesitate to use support
examples from your own experience of science or from your study of science in the Diploma
Programme.
4 Select a group leader who can communicate your selection and rationale to the rest of the
class.
In approximately 20 minutes we will reassemble to discuss results from each of the different
groups.
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The Growth of Scientific Knowledge: An Analysis by Six Scientists
Six distinguished scientists have met to discuss to what extent scientific knowledge can be said to grow.
When asked to produce graphs representing the accumulation of knowledge (K) versus time (T), the
scientists replied as follows.
Scientist A demonstrated that the growth of scientific knowledge has occurred simply in a linear way as
shown below.
K
T
A
Scientist B showed that knowledge claims have not grown in straight linear fashion but curvilinearly.
Note that the curve represents a rapid growth of knowledge claims in the earlier days, while more modern
claims appear to occur less and less frequently.
K
T
B
Scientist C stated that she agreed with Scientist B’s curvilinear interpretation but that she disagreed with
the way the curve had been drawn. Scientist C stated that the most rapid growth has occurred not at the
beginning of recorded knowledge but rather at the end, as shown below.
K
T
C
Scientist D stated that the growth of scientific knowledge claims has come not in a strictly linear fashion
nor in a curvilinear way but rather in a piece-wise linear manner. He argued that the steps or break
points in the curve represent major discoveries (eg electricity, laws of motion, atomic energy).
D
K
T
Lesson 19: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
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Scientist E agreed with the spurt growth of knowledge described by Scientist D, but added yet another
point to consider. She stated that once a major claim of knowledge has come to light, other prior claims
may be falsified. Therefore we see that after a major stair-step jump, we have a slight drop off in total
claims still considered to be true.
E
K
T
Scientist F had to disagree with all others. He stated that the growth of scientific knowledge is all relative
to what we know at a particular time. He asserted that science has actually raised more questions than it
has answered. Indeed his curved graph shows a decrease in knowledge (that is, relative to the amount of
knowledge that humans actually thought they knew at a particular time).
K
T
F
Lesson 19: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
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Discussion Questions
y What are the different meanings of the phrase “to grow”, and how do the implications
change with its changing meanings?
y What are the different causes of the growth of scientific knowledge?
y What are the factors that limit or contribute to the stagnation or decline of knowledge in the
natural sciences?
y What are some of the factors that influence the problems or questions that scientists decide
to work on?
y Does the element of chance play a role in the accumulation of scientific knowledge?
y Does and/or should a scientist’s gender or culture or personal beliefs influence his/her
judgements as to what is or is not scientific knowledge or worthy of scientific investigation?
y What role do different kinds of logic play in the growth of scientific knowledge?
y Do notions of science appear to be becoming more complex as time goes by, or do ideas
appear to be reducing to a simpler form? How would one assess such an issue?
y What is the notion of a paradigm shift, particularly as it is presented by Thomas Kuhn in his
Structures of Scientific Revolution?
Links to Other Areas of TOK
y Does the word “growth” predispose us to certain conclusions about knowledge?
y How do other forms of knowledge such as mathematics, ethics, history, and the arts,
compare to science on this issue of growth?
y Compare the accumulation of knowledge in an individual with the accumulation of
knowledge in a knowledge system. What can be said about each individual’s accumulation of
knowledge? What are the factors that contribute to the differences in the accumulated
knowledge among individuals? Have these factors been identified in this lesson as
components of growth in scientific knowledge?
y In terms of political judgements, how do political issues, such as government subsidies or
defence needs, contribute to activities in science?
y In terms of ethical judgements, how does the urgency of a problem or the moral worth of a
problem contribute to or detract from scientific endeavours?
y To what extent are scientific activities driven by economic considerations?
From Other Times and Places
y What do the efforts to achieve cold fusion imply about the way science grows?
y What does Fleming’s discovery of penicillin imply about the nature of scientific growth?
y What does the debate surrounding Darwin’s Theory of Evolution contribute to the growth of
scientific knowledge?
y What do the experiences of Copernicus and Galileo suggest about the nature of scientific
change?
Lesson 19: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
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Quotations
Science is not a system of certain, or well-established, statements; nor is it a system which
steadily advances towards a state of finality.
Karl Popper
Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cosy indoor warmth of
traditional humanising myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigour, and the great spaces have
a splendour of their own.
Bertrand Russell
References
Barrow, JD, Theories of Everything, (1991) Clarendon Press, ISBN 0198539282
Collins, H & Pinch, T, The Golem: what you should know about science, (1998) Cambridge University
Press, ISBN 0521645506
Chalmers, AF, What Is This Thing Called Science? (1999) Hackett Publishing Co, ISBN 0872204529
Abel, R, Man is the Measure, (1997) Free Press, ISBN 068483636X
Lesson 19: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
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Lesson 20: Webs of Explanation
Context
Explanations in various disciplines often seem to rely on what is known from other disciplines.
This lesson investigates how different subjects are related in terms of such explanations. In this
way, the extent to which knowledge can be regarded as a continuum can be discussed. The lesson
is best used after the mid-point of the course.
Aim
y To investigate the relationships between different forms of knowledge by focusing on
explanations.
Class Management
Hand out copies of the statements sheet (in the focus activity) to the entire class. Ask the
students to classify the statements according to the two questions at the foot of the sheet.
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Focus Activity
Student Handout
Statements
1 Organic remains turn into oil because high pressure and heat prevent organisms from utilizing
these remains.
2 The behaviour of subatomic particles can be described by mathematical functions.
3 Human qualities such as aggression and charisma are the result of the way that the human brain
works.
4 Ions behave as they do largely because of an imbalance of protons and electrons (that is, they
are charged particles).
5 Country X invaded country Y because X’s leader is aggressive and charismatic.
6 There are oil deposits under country Y because abundant plant and animal remains in that area
were crushed under pressure at high temperatures for millions of years.
7 Country X invaded country Y because country Y has large reserves of oil.
8 The brain works largely because of the movements of sodium and potassium ions through
brain cell membranes.
Question A To what extent does each of these statements belong in a particular subject
discipline?
Question B How can these statements be ordered in a sensible sequence?
Lesson 20: Webs of Explanation
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Discussion Questions
y Are the boundaries of disciplines fixed or changeable? Could we create a different set of
disciplines which would partition knowledge in a different way?
y Do you think the traditional boundaries between disciplines are ‘natural’? Are they helpful to us?
y Are there disciplines which rely largely on explanations from another discipline?
y To what extent is it possible to seal off a discipline from other disciplines?
y Is it possible to string together a number of statements so that one statement can be
explained by another statement far removed from it?
y Is everything ultimately explicable in terms of subatomic particles? If not, why not? If so,
what would this mean?
y Is there a distinct border between the human sciences and the natural sciences? Or is there
simply a continuum?
y Is it possible to produce an ordered hierarchy of disciplines? If so, on what basis?
Lesson 20: Webs of Explanation
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Teacher Notes
One diagram often constructed by students is illustrated below. Clearly, this is not the only
option. The main three issues highlighted by this scheme are:
1 alternative frameworks of explanation for history
2 a reductive sequence for the natural sciences which may or may not include psychology
3 the relationship of mathematics to the other subject disciplines.
PSYCHOLOGY
HISTORY
GEOGRAPHY
CHEMISTRY
BIOLOGY
PHYSICS
MATHEMATICS
HISTORY
HUMAN
SCIENCES
NATURAL
SCIENCES
MATHEMATICS
Areas of
Knowledge
Lesson 20: Webs of Explanation
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Links to Other Areas of TOK
y In what way, if any, should the methods of the natural sciences be exemplars for the social
sciences?
y Can human knowledge be confined to what the natural sciences discover? What other
important enquiries are not covered by the natural sciences?
y Are causes and reasons both required for full historical understanding?
y Why is mathematics so important to the physical sciences?
From Other Times and Places
It is instructive to examine the ways in which disciplines have been partitioned in the past, for
example, ‘natural history’ and ‘natural philosophy’. Why are these categories no longer favoured?
The English use of the word ‘science’ is quite different from that in Germanic and Scandinavian
languages, for example, where its meaning is more inclusive.
In modern times, a number of new interdisciplinary subjects have gained prominence, such as
biochemistry, geophysics, art history and economic history. Why?
Quotations
God may have separated the heavens from the earth. He did not separate Astronomy from
Marine Biology.
Jonathan Levy
The historian makes a distinction between what may be called the outside and the inside of an
event… When a scientist says “Why did that piece of litmus paper turn pink?” he means “on
what kinds of occasions do pieces of litmus paper turn pink?” (… the outside of the event).
When a historian asks “Why did Brutus stab Caesar?” he means “What did Brutus think
which made him decide to stab Caesar?” (… the inside of an event).
RB Collingwood
The human brain craves understanding. It cannot understand without simplifying; that is,
without reducing things to a common element. However, all simplifications are arbitrary and
lead us to drift insensibly away from reality.
Lecomte du Nouy
References
Ryan, A, The Philosophy of the Social Sciences, (1976) Macmillan, ISBN 0333109724
Searle, J, Minds, Brains and Science, (1986) Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674576330
Casti, J, Searching for Certainty, (1991) Abacus, ISBN 0349104557
Lesson 20: Webs of Explanation
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Lesson 21: Atmospheric and Group
Pressure
Context
This lesson is most useful as a link between the natural and the social sciences.
In an experiment, a scientist deliberately manipulates one factor to see the effect on another
factor. This enables the scientist to draw conclusions about causal relationships. Because
experiments are often seen as the ideal scientific method, they are used in human sciences as well
as in the natural sciences. One alternative to experiments are naturalistic observational studies,
but the results of such studies can only confirm a correlation between two or more factors.
A common-sense understanding of human nature says that humans differ from objects because
they have a mind and free will. This means that human sciences such as psychology must use
methods different from those used in natural sciences. Not all psychologists agree with this.
Many have the opinion that the methods that have proven so successful in such sciences as
physics ought also to be used in psychological research.
Aims
y To investigate similarities and differences between experiments in physics and psychology.
y To compare and contrast knowledge claims made in natural science and human science.
Class Management
y Allow 40–60 minutes for this lesson.
y Divide the students into groups of four or five.
y Each student should be given copies of the two experiments and the discussion questions.
y Allow 20–30 minutes for students to read the experiments and to discuss the questions
before reporting back.
y The remaining time is spent in whole-class discussion, which may continue next time the
class meets.
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Focus Activity
Student Handout
Two different experiments are described in your handout.
y Read the information regarding each experiment.
y Prepare to discuss the questions provided at the end of your handout.
y Select a group leader to report to the rest of the class.
A Physical Experiment
Background
Even in Ancient Greece it was known that it is impossible to pump up water from a well deeper
than approximately 10 metres. In the sixteenth century Galileo considered the problem, but he
could not explain why. His student Torricelli, the inventor of the mercury barometer, developed
the theory of atmospheric pressure to explain the phenomenon. In the seventeenth century, this
theory was supported by an experiment carried out by Pascal.
Pascal’s Experiment
Pascal used a bowl, a tube closed at one end, and some mercury, as shown in Figure 1. He filled
the tube with mercury and turned the tube upside down in a bowl also containing mercury. The
mercury in the tube did not sink to the same level as the mercury in the bowl. The level in the
tube was approximately 760mm higher than the level in the bowl. He then carried the apparatus
up a mountain. At the summit he found that the level of mercury in the tube was now lower than
before. Pascal concluded that his finding gave evidence of the existence of atmospheric pressure.
The pressure from the atmosphere on the surface of the mercury in the bowl was equal to the
pressure from the mercury in the tube.
vacuum
mercury
Figure 1
Lesson 21: Atmospheric and Group Pressure
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A Psychological Experiment
Background
Conformity refers to behaviours or attitudes that occur as a result of real or imagined group
pressure. When people conform to unspoken rules, they tend to believe that they are doing so
out of their free will. A number of social psychologists have researched different aspects of this
phenomenon over the years, especially after the second world war and the Vietnam war.
Asch’s Experiment
Asch, a North American social psychologist, designed and carried out his famous experiment in
the early 1950s. In his experiment he used 10 pairs of cards, similar to the ones in Figure 2. On
one card in each pair there was a line of standard length. On the other card there were three lines
of different lengths, one of equal length to the standard line.
2 3 1
Figure 2
He also used groups of seven students as the subjects of his experiment. Some subjects were
asked which line was equal to the standard line. Unknown to one group member, the other
members of each group were “opponents”, instructed by the experimenter to give wrong answers
on certain critical trials. Approximately 25% of the subjects never conformed, 33% conformed to
the group’s incorrect decision more than half the time, and 5% conformed all the time. When
subjects were asked the same question in the absence of the group, their answer was correct in
more than 99% of all cases.
Later on, Asch carried out variations of his experiment and found that:
y the number of opponents had an effect (see Figure 3)
y if a dissenter was present, the conformity rate decreased even if the dissenter did not agree
with the subject’s view.
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15
Number of opponents
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
M
i
s
t
a
k
e
s

(
%
)
Figure 3
Lesson 21: Atmospheric and Group Pressure
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Discussion Questions
y What are the essential similarities and differences between the two experiments?
y The concept of “pressure” is used in both contexts. Is it used in the same way? Justify your
answer. Find other concepts that are also used in both the human and the natural sciences.
y Compare the use of experiments in different human and natural sciences. Is there any science
that does not use experiments? Are experiments used in mathematics?
y The physical experiment using mercury was carried out in Italy. The psychological
experiment involving students was carried out in the USA. Are these results relevant to other
places, other countries, other fluids or other humans? Justify your answer.
y Humans are assumed to act out of free will. Is this assumption contradicted by the results of
the conformity experiment?
y Sometimes psychologists are criticized for causing harm to subjects in experiments. Are
moral values relevant to Asch’s experiment? Justify your answer. Are moral values relevant to
Pascal’s experiment? Can harm done to experimental subjects ever be justified?
y In medicine and psychology animals are used as models for humans. Are they a relevant
model? From a moral point of view, is it acceptable to use animals?
y Compare ethical codes for experimenters in different sciences.
y Propose ethical codes for experimenters in different sciences.
Links to Other Areas of TOK
A clear comparison between the natural and human sciences is offered in this lesson. The
students may be asked to suggest examples of similarities and differences between the methods of
the natural sciences and those of the human sciences.
From Other Times and Places
In Ancient Greece the experiment was not considered the ideal scientific method. This was
mainly due to the fact that nature was seen as an ideal, to be admired, not to be tampered with
and manipulated. To classify phenomena and to speculate about the purposes and aims of natural
phenomena was more acceptable in the philosophy of nature, the predecessor of modern science.
Aristotle, for instance, distinguished between natural and unnatural motions. A stone falling
downwards to the ground and the flames rising towards the sky were seen as natural motions,
while lifting a stone was considered unnatural and something to be avoided.
In medieval times, research mainly consisted of finding out what religious and ancient authors
had to say about nature, rather than questioning their ideas and testing for fallibility.
During the European Renaissance the experiment became the established way to research nature.
One of the most widely known experiments, according to contemporary accounts, was when
Galileo tested Aristotle’s theory that the speed of a falling object is determined by the weight of
the object. Galileo tested the theory when he simultaneously let two lead balls of different weight
fall from the tower of Pisa. The theory was refuted since the balls hit the ground simultaneously.
Some religious groups do not allow the advances made possible by scientific experiment, such as
modern medicine, in daily life. They look to other sources of control and comfort. Why might
this be so?
Lesson 21: Atmospheric and Group Pressure
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Quotation
The difference between a cause and a reason is the same as that between a blink and a wink.
S Bastian*
References
Ryan, A, The Philosophy of the Social Sciences, (New York, 1970) Palgrave Macmillan,
ISBN¬0333109724
Skinner, BF, Science and Human Behavior, (New York, 1953) Free Press, ISBN¬0029290406
Sue Bastian’s oral comment was based on an idea in Clifford Geertz’s The Interpretation of Cultures:
Selected Essays (New York, 1973, 2000) Basic Books, which in turn drew on Gilbert Ryle’s
The Concept of Mind (Harmondsworth, 1949) Penguin Books.
Lesson 21: Atmospheric and Group Pressure
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Lesson 22: A Cultural “Rorschach Test”
Context
Hermann Rorschach (1884–1922) was a Swiss psychiatrist who devised a personality test
involving the presentation to a subject of a standard set of ink blots. The subject is then invited to
say, on the basis of the immediate image stimulated, what the ink blots suggest or resemble.
In this TOK activity students are asked to register the very first image that comes to their mind,
when given a certain label for a category of people. What attributes of age, gender, sexual
orientation, race, economic status, culture, and other characteristics do students attribute to
people labelled media tycoon, homeless, fraudster, and so on? In this manner, students are
encouraged to examine the nature of their stereotypes and prejudices.
Aim
y To examine some hidden assumptions in our use of language and the relationship of these
assumptions with the social power structure.
y To examine how hidden assumptions affect our construction of knowledge and our beliefs
about ourselves and the world.
Class Management
This lesson can be completed in 45 minutes. However, the discussion can become so rich that
you might want to spend more time on it.
Twelve categories, each containing five labels, are provided in the Focus Activity section.
A possible title, such as “The Powerful” or “The Powerless”, is provided to describe each category.
To maximize classroom efficiency prepare cards for the labels in advance. On the back of each
card write the label (for example, media tycoon, homeless person, fraudster), and on the front of
each card write Category 1 A, Category 2 A, Category 3 A, and so on. Allowing for the five labels
in each of the twelve categories, you will need 60 cards.
Divide the class into three, four or five groups, each ideally containing at least three students.
Group 1 should be allocated the A labels; group 2 the B labels, and so on. The cards should be
laid front upwards, so the students cannot see the label, only the category.
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Focus Activity
Distribute the labels.
During the activity one group should not know the label another group is working on.
Students in each group should each read a label, and respond to it in 30 seconds by noting down
the first mental image that comes to mind of a person in that category. The students might either
draw a quick sketch or write a brief description of the person. Let each student begin work as
soon as the card is read. These written or drawn descriptions are intended to serve only as
reminders to the students of what their immediate image was.
When the groups have worked with at least eight cards each, begin compiling results.
Compilation
For the first category students responded to (category A), ask them to raise their hands and vote
on how they portrayed their labels regarding:
y Age—Old? Middle-aged? Young?
y Gender—Male? Female?
y Sexual orientation—Heterosexual? Homosexual? Bisexual?
y Race—Use names appropriate to your locality.
y Economic status—Rich? Well off? Solvent? Poor? Destitute?
y Physical attractiveness—Use the adjectives your students suggest.
For each portrayal, note down the choices that received the most votes, so that a stereotype for
the category is compiled (for example, category A = old, male, heterosexual, white, rich, tall and
dignified). If the vote is almost tied, include both adjectives (old, male or female . . .). If there is
very little agreement, do not include that characteristic in the description of the stereotype.
After the stereotype for the first category is compiled, deal with all the labels to which the
students responded, and ask them to think of a title that describes all of them. Their titles may or
may not agree with the ones included in categories 1–12. Write down the titles chosen to describe
the categories. Proceed in this fashion with all the categories and labels covered, so that you have
a list that might look like this:
The Powerful: old, male, heterosexual, white, rich
The Criminal: young or middle-aged, male, heterosexual, white, poor
Nurse: adult, female, heterosexual, Afro-American, solvent.
At this point, students should be aware of their personal stereotypes, as well as of the stereotypes
of the larger group (which, depending on the class composition, may or may not reflect the
cultural stereotypes of the society they live in). They should also be aware that people attribute
different connotations to the same word. When a list like the one above is compiled, class
discussion can begin.
Lesson 22: A Cultural “Rorschach Test”
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Categories and Labels
HIV-positive person E Religious leader E
Welfare recipient D Head of state (president, queen) D
Slave C Person who owns a bank C
Beggar B CEO of a large corporation B
Homeless person A Media tycoon A
Category 2: The Powerless Category 1: The Powerful
Symphony orchestra conductor E Car thief E
Professor Emeritus D Drug addict D
Rock star C Serial killer C
Professional athlete B Mugger/robber B
Nobel Prize winner A Fraudster A
Category 4: The Accomplished Category 3: The Criminal
Cook E Security guard E
Executive secretary D Street sweeper D
Secretary/receptionist C Farmhand C
Teacher B Janitor B
Hairdresser A Garbage collector A
Category 6: Women Category 5: The Low-Status
Dentist E Office manager E
Lawyer/attorney/legal counsellor D Administrative assistant D
Medical doctor C Educator C
Judge B Hairstylist B
University professor A Chef A
Category 8: The Professional Category 7: Men
Rock concert-goer E Scientist E
Olympic contestant D Artist D
Math whiz C Explorer C
Internet web surfer B Writer B
Student A Astronaut A
Category 10: Generation X Category 9: The Respected
Shopper E Expert E
Voter D Revolutionary D
Retired person C Inventor C
Primary caregiver/nurturer B Innovator B
Consumer A Leader A
Category 12: The Human Category 11: Agents of change
Lesson 22: A Cultural “Rorschach Test”
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Discussion Questions
How are social stereotypes learned? (Induction? Abstraction? Classification?)
Does the name used for a category influence the stereotype? Must a different name be used in
order to transcend the stereotype? With languages that use gendered nouns and adjectives, how
difficult is this to do? What is politically correct language?
To what extent are we limited by stereotypes in our beliefs about what we can do in the world?
To what degree are our language and knowledge influenced by the dominant social group?
Links to Other Areas of TOK
Specific Links
The process of stereotyping can be related to induction and deduction.
The idea of normal as a numerical majority (as opposed to normal as defined by the group in
power) can be related to the bell curve and to statistics, extensively used in the human and natural
sciences. Interesting connections exist between the bell curve and psychology (What is mental
illness? What is aberrant sexual behaviour? What should a normal 3-year-old be able to do?) and
to medical diagnosis (limitations of medical practice: What happens when a person’s symptoms
are atypical?).
General Links
The idea of power within a society can be connected to all areas of the TOK course.
From Other Times and Places
Did the same patterns of relationships between language, power and knowledge exist in the past?
Do they now exist in other places? (When is it still relevant to say female voters?) If a different
group were in power, what effects on knowledge and society might follow?
Quotation
When we attend a conference on African-American Mothers and Daughters, we understand
that the subject matter is partial and particular. There is no pretence of putting forth truths
for all womankind. The very presence of the prefix or marker African-American
acknowledges the existence of others whose experience may be different but no less central…
We should have called our first conference, “White, Middle-Class, Heterosexual Women in
Context.”
HG Lerner
References
Hayakawa, AR & SI, Language in Thought and Action, (1991) Harcourt Brace International,
ISBN¬0156482401
Lerner, HG, The Dance of Deception: Pretending and Truth Telling in Women’s Lives (Chapter 13
pp 211–12), (New York, 1994) Harper Collins, ISBN 0060924632
Minnich, EK, Transforming Knowledge, (1990) Temple University Press, ISBN 0877228809
Lesson 22: A Cultural “Rorschach Test”
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Lesson 24: The Art Critic
Context
This lesson can be used as a general introduction to the arts. No prior knowledge is needed.
Aims
y To investigate the criteria on which we judge a work of art.
y To consider the extent to which such criteria might be common to us all.
y To investigate the influence of gender and culture on our judgments.
Class Management
A large room is needed to provide students with the space to work on their own creation.
The activity works best with 25 to 30 students. The lesson requires considerable preparation. The
following items will be required by each student.
At the start of the lesson:
y a glue stick
y a piece of white A3 thin card or paper
y 12 coloured shapes of different sizes, such as equilateral, isosceles and irregular triangles;
rectangles; squares; and circles. The shapes should be of different sizes but about 5–10cm
across. Each student should receive an identical set of shapes.
Midway through the lesson:
y a pencil
y a small piece of paper.
In addition, the teacher will require a thick marker pen, and an OHP, with a transparency and
markers. It is useful to prepare an outline grid on the transparency in advance.
3
2
1
3rd 2nd 1st Student
The number of rows in the grid should correspond with the number of students.
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Focus Activity
Without introduction, each member of the class is given a glue stick, the paper/card and the
shapes and asked to spend 10–15 minutes making a picture or design pleasing to themselves.
Have everyone put their names on the reverse side of their work. Then collect the results and
give a short break for the students to leave the classroom.
While the class is out of the room, number each work of art sequentially, then lay out the work as
in an exhibition.
Call in the class, giving each student a pencil and a small piece of paper as they enter the room.
Then explain that everyone is required to be an art critic. Each student is to spend 5–10 minutes
looking at the works of art before deciding which is best, next best and third best. Once this is
completed, the students record the numbers on the piece of paper and hand it in to the teacher.
As the selections are handed in, the grid is completed so that the number of students voting for
each piece can be totalled. Once this has been done, discussion can begin.
Discussion Questions
Discussion is guided by the outcome of the selection. However, overwhelmingly, past experience
indicates that the selection will not be random. Instead there will be clear favourites—a
significant majority will vote for the same three or four works of art. If this has occurred,
discussion could begin as soon as the most popular works of art have been identified and
displayed separately.
Begin by asking each person who voted for the most popular work of art to give their reasons. It
will be useful to have someone appointed to note down the essential points as they are made. Are
there common reasons? If so, what are they? Issues often raised include:
y realistic representation, as distinct from abstraction
y content (possible emotions or ideas conveyed)
y choice of colour
y use of space, including issues such as symmetry and pattern
y possible differences in preferences between male and female
y possible differences in preferences between students taking visual arts and those who are not.
Turn now to students who did not vote for the most popular work of art. Ask each of them to
give their reasons. Do any common themes emerge?
If this is used as an introduction to the section on the arts, it is not necessary to try to close the
lesson by making a set of neat conclusions. It is enough to raise questions of content, form and
bases for judgment.
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Links to Other Areas of TOK
y Are any of the criteria for judgment reported here relevant to other areas of knowledge? For
example, on the basis of what criteria do we judge a mathematical proof? How do we decide
between rival scientific theories?
y To what extent can we use logical reasoning to justify our choices in this activity? To what
extent are other ways of knowing, such as perception and emotion, relevant here?
From Other Times and Places
y Does our cultural background determine, or to any extent affect, our valuation of a piece of
art? What effect does our social status have?
y To what extent do you consider that we are competent to judge works of art from other
cultures with which we are not familiar? Does it matter if we see things in these works of art
that are different to those the artist intended?
y Are we competent to judge works of art from the distant past? Is there any evidence to
suggest that, at different times in the past, different valuations would have been made?
Quotations
I’ve measured it from side to side;
It’s two feet long and three feet wide. Anon
How do you like what you have? This is a question that anybody can ask anybody. Ask it.
Gertrude Stein*
References
The introductory chapter to Kenneth Clarke’s Civilisation (London, 1971: BBC Books) provides
some stimulating ideas about aesthetic judgments in general.
Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. Battcock, G (1995) University of California Press, ISBN
0520201477
*No reference available.
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Lesson 25: Songs and Poems
Context
This lesson is meant to prompt a discussion on the arts as knowledge. Each student will make
two judgments: as a participant, when he or she is involved in the creation of the song or the
poem, then, as a member of the class (a sort of art community), when the voting for the best
song or poem takes place.
Aims
y To investigate the different elements of a work of art through a practical and entertaining
activity.
y To create a work of art, perform it, and then judge it.
y To consider the bases of judgments on art.
Class Management
The lesson requires a total of 80–120 minutes for a class of 12–20 students. For task 1, each
group will probably take 25–30 minutes, not including the voting, which will take a further
15–20¬ minutes. For task 2, each student might need 5–10 minutes. The rest of the lesson should
be dedicated to open discussion about the exercise.
Focus Activity
Give the following words to the class: candle, nightclub, floor, all, people, ends, know, door,
going, emptiness, dance, try, again, breath, veins, New Year’s Eve, inside, burning, out, night,
winter, air, face, year, another.
Task 1: Students form into groups of four. Each group then composes a song or a poem,
using only the words above plus indefinite and definite articles, pronouns,
prepositions, and the verb “to be” in all of its forms. A further constraint is that each
group may only use a particular word a maximum of three times. Each group must
choose one of its members as a performer to recite the song or poem. The songs
and poems are then recited to the whole class. At the end, everyone in the class must
vote for the poem or song he/she considers the best.
Task 2: Each student writes on a small piece of paper a response to the following question:
Assuming that you have voted for what you thought to be the best song or poem,
how did you know that it really was the best?
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Discussion Questions
y Is there anything in one song, poem, novel or painting that makes it better than another? Is
there a difference between liking a work and thinking it is good?
y How can judgments on art be justified? Is it possible to prove a value judgment? If not, are
all judgments equally valid?
y Given variability in judgment, what is the basis of the familiar concepts of literature, music
and visual art?
y How do tradition, social trends, religion and morality influence a person’s perception of
artistic merit?
Links to Other Areas of TOK
y What is the main difference between our knowledge that “this is the best poem” and our
knowledge that “2 + 2 = 4” or “salt dissolves in water”?
y Can art be considered language?
y Can an Arab, a Chinese and an American equally enjoy a piece of Indian music?
From Other Times and Places
The same Homer, who pleased at Athens and Rome two thousand years ago, is still admired at Paris and at London.
All the changes of climate, governments, religion, and language, have not been able to obscure his glory. Authority or
prejudice may give a temporary vogue to a bad poet or orator, but his reputation will never be durable or general.
David Hume
Quotations
Art is a human activity, consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain
external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are
infected by these feelings, and also experience them.
Leo Tolstoy
To see something as Art requires something the eye cannot descry: an atmosphere of artistic
theory, a knowledge of history of art, an art world.
AC Danto
References
Danto, AC, “The Art World”. Journal of Philosophy (1964), p 580*
Grant, D J, A Short History of Music, Revised edition, (1965) Columbia University Press
Honegger, A, I Am a Composer, (1966) St Martin’s Press
Hume, D, “Of the Standard of Taste”, in Four Dissertations (1857)*
Rosenfeld, P, Discoveries of a Music Critic (1936) Reprint Services Corp, ISBN 0781291844
Tolstoy, L; Maude, A, What is Art? (1898; reprint, 2001) Replica Books, ISBN 0735102937*
*Full reference unavailable.
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Lesson 26: Judgment and Choice
Context
This lesson is intended as an introductory exercise leading on to topics of greater magnitude, such
as ethics. It may be given during or after a unit on logic and reasoning.
Some of the exercises are controversial in nature. Teachers are advised to use discretion.
Aims
y To develop skill in identifying ethical issues or questions.
y To recognize problems associated with day-to-day moral judgments.
y To appreciate the role of reason in the formation of moral judgments.
y To clarify what is a problem of knowledge.
Class Management
This lesson is best used in one 40–60 minute class period. Students should be divided into groups
of three or four. Each member of the group should receive a copy of the focus activity section on
the following pages. Carefully read through the example given and clarify directions.
From the list of eight exercises, assign two or three of the situations for each group to complete.
Some groups will be working on the same situations.
Allow 15–20 minutes for groups to respond. At least 20 minutes should be allowed for class
discussion with arguments and counter-arguments being presented.
Before introducing the eight exercises, take the entire class through the example to acquaint them
with the response form.
Focus Activity
Judgment and Choice
Judgments and decisions surround us in everyday conversations and situations. Several
hypothetical situations are presented here. Read each one carefully. You may agree or disagree
with any apparent decision or action taken by the individuals in each of the hypothetical
situations. It is not the point of this exercise, however, to simply agree or disagree and argue.
Reasons must be given for each moral judgment.
Consider the following example as a guide to the exercises that follow. Your goal is to identify the
issue at hand, to state the reasons used, and to identify the associated problems of knowledge.
Example
Annalies, a second year Diploma Programme student, threw her empty soft drink can on the lawn
just outside the cafeteria. I asked her why she did that. She said that she knew about the campus rule
of “no littering”, but that she did it because it was just one of many of Mr DeMotto’s (the school
principal) rules she had broken that day. She said that she hated Mr DeMotto and had therefore
decided not to follow any of his silly rules.
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Issue: Should Annalies throw litter on the school grounds? She has decided to do it in spite of
the known rule.
Reason: Even though she is aware of the rule, she has decided to ignore it, simply because it is
one of the rules—she is breaking the rule for spite. This is very similar to someone who decides
to follow every rule because “rules should always be followed”.
Problem: “Breaking all rules for spite” is making use of erroneous reasoning. In Annalies’ case,
we can call it a problem with “what seems to be reasonable”. One of the primary reasons for
having rules must be to make people think. Annalies is clearly not taking time to think about the
reason for the no littering rule. Littering to satisfy her ill feelings towards the school principal may
not weigh up against well thought out support for the rule. From the standpoint of logical rigour
her conclusion to litter is a non sequitur.
Each of us can probably think of several good reasons why we should not litter. Is Annalies
simply guilty of not considering all relevant factors? Maybe littering constitutes a health hazard to
the community or excessive litter is expensive for the school to clean up. Maybe the fact that
older students drop litter sets a bad example for other younger students.
When a quantity of factual support surrounds a particular issue, the judgment usually becomes
more directed. This process is related to the formation of knowledge in some subject areas. We
expect claims of knowledge in history, for example, to be made through the use of sound
evidence. The more evidence that a historian can gather should in turn lead to a more confident
historical claim. We could argue a similar case for science and other subject areas.
Exercises
Your assignment is to read each situation carefully and to:
y identify the particular issue in question
y state the reason given or used by the person for making the judgment in the exercise
y determine the problem of knowledge associated with the judgment or action. Perhaps
the term “factors related to the judgment” is more appropriate in some instances.
1 According to the poll taken by the math class, 65% of the student body decided to adopt a
healthier life style (for example, quit smoking, exercise regularly) after listening to Arnold
Schwarzenegger speak on health and fitness. Before the speech, only 15% had shown a desire
to live a healthier life.
2 Jorge gave $50 to those kids who were begging down at Central Station. He said later that he
thought the little one was so cute and that she did look pathetic.
3 When Mr Waddel (dean of students) asked Marie Louise why she had started to smoke
cigarettes, she simply said, “Because I like to smoke—it helps me relax.”
Then Mr Waddel asked, “Aren’t you concerned about the cost? Do you know that, during
their lifetime, smokers will spend $35,000 on average for cigarettes?”
Marie Louise replied, “I really don’t mind spending the money, since most of the tax on
cigarettes goes to support higher education in the country.”
4 The girls on the varsity team were not at all surprised when Hiroko did not show up for the
conference championship game. Even though she was the second leading scorer on the team,
they all knew how much she values her music. The opportunity for her to play solo with the
city symphonic orchestra was just too good to pass up.
5 Henri just loves Amy, but could not believe that she got a tattoo on her neck last week.
When she came and asked Henri what he thought about it, he told her that he thought it was
beautiful. He just didn’t have the heart to hurt her feelings.
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6 Yesterday Nicole was given a ticket by the traffic police for driving too fast. I was with her
when it happened. There was no reason to drive fast—we were just cruisin’ through town.
The policeman told her that driving over the speed limit was one of the major causes of
highway fatalities.
Nicole retorted, “When you gotta go, you gotta go!”
7 Most students in our school felt that the new administration’s discipline policy was too
tough. Yoo Ri was the only student who voted in favour of the policy. He told me later that
the discipline at our school was much more lax than that back home in South Korea.
8 Festus (student council president) told me that he was going to end his friendship with
Nanda (class representative). They have been arguing quite a bit about the way things have
been handled by the student government. Festus told me that no matter how he perceives the
feelings of his fellow students, Nanda always sees it differently.
Discussion Questions
As discussion proceeds, construct a list of relevant problems of knowledge related to the
situations.
1 Issue: Should members of the student body adopt a healthier lifestyle? Solution: The
majority (65%) decide that they should.
Reason: They heard the famous bodybuilder and movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, speak.
He is a well-known ambassador for fitness.
Problem: The student body is obviously influenced by Schwarzenegger. One could argue,
however, that he is a positive influence for people who have not taken their health seriously.
Nonetheless, doing something because someone famous tells you to, is an “escape from
thinking”.
How often do we see well-known people trying to influence our thinking? Consider the
astronaut or Olympic athlete or Hollywood star trying to get us to use a certain product or to
vote a certain way in an election.
2 Issue: Should Jorge give money to beggars? Solution: He has decided to give quite a lot.
Reason: He has given the money because the kids (or at least one of them) looked pathetic.
Problem: Jorge seems to have fallen for an appeal to pity. We could label this as yet another
“escape from thinking”. Jorge might have wanted to look for evidence that the kids really
needed money. What will Jorge think if he sees them collect the money and then walk over to
a new Mercedes and be driven away? What will Jorge think if he sees the child take the
money to go and buy a pack of cigarettes? Also, how does Jorge know that the money will
be well spent (if their family really lacks necessities)?
3 Issue: Should Marie Louise take up smoking? Solution: She decides to start smoking.
Reason: Smoking helps her to relax. She is also not concerned about the cost, as the taxes
raised through the sale of cigarettes go to support education.
Problem: Marie Louise seems to have devised self-satisfying reasons for her own behaviour,
but are they necessarily sound? Sure, the tax money goes to education, but that fact does not
address the issue of money with respect to Marie Louise and her own personal finances. Can
she actually afford it? It all sounds like a rationalization. Can we say that a person’s reason is
incorrect? What constitutes a good reason?
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4 Issue: Should Hiroko play in the championship game? Solution: She decides not to play.
Reason: She has a chance to play with the city symphonic orchestra. She values music.
Problem: A key word to stress here is value. Hiroko values her music performance. This
does not imply that she does not value playing with the team, but she is clearly setting
priorities.
What roles do our values play in making moral judgments? Can one make a judgment
without having values? What happens when two values compete? Is it always possible for
one to prioritize values? It is possible for the people in a nation to value freedom and peace?
How could these two values conflict?
5 Issue: Should Henri tell Amy how he really feels? Solution: He decides not to tell her.
Reason: Henri does not want to hurt Amy’s feelings.
Problem: The problem here may have to do with moral rules. It is easy to say “one should
never lie”. Is it okay to break such a rule to spare someone else’s feelings?
Most people who have taken time to make or adopt a list of moral rules will surely include
rules like “one should not kill other people”, “one should not steal from other people”, “one
should not harm other people”, or “one should not lie to other people”. It does not take long
for us to realize that our values can once again cause us to be put into situations where
following the rules is not so easy. What are the two values at stake for Henri? What are the
two values considered for the child who steals apples from the grocer to feed his starving
family? What about the person with the terminal illness who wants to end his or her life early?
6 Issue: Should Nicole be driving over the speed limit? Solution: She decides that she should.
Reason: When confronted about the possibility of getting killed in a car accident, she is
confident to reply that her fate is not in her own hands, so to speak.
Problem: Nicole’s life may or may not be out of her own hands. The matter of determinism
versus free will is not easily settled. Each of us has no doubt heard arguments saying that
“the child was a victim of a poor upbringing”, or “society is to blame for his bad behaviour”,
or “it is simply God’s will”. What assumptions does our legal system make as far as individual
responsibility goes?
7 Issue: How should Yoo Ri vote on the school discipline policy? Solution: He votes to
support it.
Reason: The new policy is much more lax than the discipline back in South Korea.
Problem: We all have experiences and cultures to which we regularly relate. Where one
comes from matters. If a woman flies to Brussels (10°C) from Siberia (-20°C), then how will
she find the temperature? How about the man flying to Brussels from Miami (35°C)? Now
you tell me, is the weather in Brussels warm or cool?
We often say “When in Rome do as the Romans do”. Can we apply this rule across the board
when it comes to an individual’s cultural attitudes or experience?
8 Issue: Should Festus end his friendship with Nanda? Solution: He decides to end it.
Reason: Festus and Nanda argue frequently, since they always seem to see things (interpret
feelings) differently.
Problem: A key part of this problem is perception. Others may point out that Festus is guilty
of using the “black and white fallacy”.
People’s feelings can be quite complex. Therefore is it strange that two individuals might
perceive them differently? Do people have limitations when it comes to ordinary perception
(eg seeing and hearing)? Remember the optical illusion—was it two faces looking at each
other or was it a classical Greek vase?
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The problems of knowledge related to these situations include:
y use or misuse of logic
y assessment of one’s values
y perception
y managing rules to live by
y interpretation of one’s personal experience
y determinism versus free will.
Links to Other Areas of TOK
y What problems are shared by people making knowledge claims in a particular subject area
(such as history or science) and people making judgments concerning particular issues?
y What can we conclude about the logical structure of our thinking when it comes to
judgments? Is the use of fallacious argument a serious problem?
y What constitutes a good reason?
y Is a perception problem encountered by a scientist or historian the same as a perception
problem met by an individual making a particular judgment?
y How might language (in particular the meaning of terms) be a problem for two people on
opposite sides of an issue?
y Can a person be “morally educated”?
From Other Times and Places
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Swiss–French philosopher, 1712–1778) held that people were
fundamentally good and equal in the realm of nature but were corrupted with the development of
property, agriculture, science and commerce.
The belief that human nature is inherently evil was held by Hsun Tzu (Chinese philosopher,
298–238 BCE). Hsun Tzu claimed, however, that man could grow to be good by learning how
to uphold the law and achieve morality. The practice of learning was essential to man, and the
totality of his knowledge was built by a day-by-day process.
The categorical imperative was used to profess the ethics of Immanuel Kant (German
philosopher, 1724–1804). This took the form of an absolute moral law, “Act as if the maxim
from which you act were to become through your will a universal law”.
Quotations
Ethical axioms are founded and tested not very differently from the axioms of science. Truth
is what stands the test of experience.
Albert Einstein (1879–1955)
Lesson 26: Judgment and Choice
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References
Einstein, A, Out of My Later Years, (1950) Thames & Hudson, ISBN B0000CHS21*
Feibleman, JK, Understanding Oriental Philosophy—A Popular Account for the Western World, (1976)
Horizon Press, ISBN 0818013214
Midgley, M, Can’t We Make Moral Judgements?, (1993) St. Martin’s Press, ISBN 0312087268
Wilson, J, Moral Thinking—A Guide for Students, (1970) Heinemann Educational,
ISBN¬0435461907
*Full reference unavailable.
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Lesson 28: Third World Blues
Context
This lesson is meant for a class that has already explored the problems of knowledge that arise
when we are confronted with moral as well as political judgment.
The lesson is designed to highlight the logical difference or other relationship between “facts”
and “values”. It presents a concrete example to help explore a fundamental philosophical
question: can you derive an “ought” from an “is”? In other words, is it possible to gain
knowledge about what we ought to do from knowledge about what is the case?
Aims
y To identify elements of political decision making.
y To examine the relationship between moral judgments and political judgments.
y To identify the problems of knowledge that arise when we are making a political judgment.
y To differentiate between “facts” and “values”.
Class Management
The lesson requires 40–60 minutes for a class of 12 to 20 students. In small groups, students
should spend 20 minutes studying the situation and then develop an argument that responds to
the question. The rest of the lesson will be devoted to open discussion.
Focus Activity
Consider the following moral principles.
y There is something about human beings of incomparable moral significance, such that all
human beings merit equality of treatment, no matter how unequal in talents, achievements or
social status.
y Everyone deserves respect.
y Everyone’s happiness or suffering is of moral importance.
Now examine the following political situation.
The Country
Nowanda is a small country with many economic problems. The poor represent 44% of the
population; the unemployment rate is around 30%; corruption is widespread in the government;
the country is in debt. A large overseas creditor demands a change in Nowanda’s internal policies
in order to meet their debt.
Fact
A study by scientists has shown that the poor are less well-endowed intellectually than others.
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The New Policy
The overseas creditor wants the government to remove the poor from the country’s schools
because science has shown that the poor benefit little from their education. As a result, the cost
of education will decrease, Nowanda’s economic position will improve, and they will be able to
pay off their debt.
Question
If all the citizens of Nowanda believe in the three moral principles stated earlier, and you are a
citizen of Nowanda, how would you determine whether the new policy is right or wrong?
Task
In small groups, discuss the situation above. Designate a leader for your group to present an
argument in response to the question.
Discussion Questions
y How does our knowledge of the three moral principles correspond with our knowledge of
the needs and interests of the people of Nowanda? Is the policy suggested by the overseas
creditor logically consistent with the three moral principles?
y Respond to the following statement. “Knowledge of the concrete needs and interests of the
people of Nowanda alters our understanding of the three ideal moral principles.”
y Is it logically possible to know, with certainty, how to move from facts about Nowanda to
what ought to be done about Nowanda?
y The new policy is based mainly on Western scientific evidence, which means that it is in
principle falsifiable. In other words, more research could prove it to be false in the future.
Should the people of Nowanda accept the findings of Western science? Justify your answer.
Links to Other Areas of TOK
y How do moral principles influence the application of our scientific knowledge?
y How does our scientific knowledge influence our moral outlook?
y Are the meanings of words like “suffering”, “happiness”, “respect”, “morally significant”
fixed or changing?
Quotations
Some eyes want spectacles to see things clearly and distinctly: but let not those that use them
therefore say nobody can see clearly without them.
John Locke
Locke, J, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689; reprinted many times) Book 4, Chapter 17,
Section 4*
*Full reference unavailable.
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Lesson 29: Accident—or Knowledge?
Context
This lesson should not be offered at the beginning of the course, because of the sophistication of
the readings. It works best as a review of the concepts mentioned in the aims.
Aims
y To explore the necessary and sufficient conditions for making knowledge claims.
y To explore the concepts of certainty and uncertainty.
y To consider the links between coincidence, belief and knowledge.
Class Management
y The lesson can be adapted to individual or group work. Working in pairs is best.
y The lesson should be preceded by a free-ranging discussion in response to the questions
“What do we mean by knowing and knowledge?” and “What are the necessary and sufficient
conditions for asserting the truth of a proposition?”
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Focus Activity
Student Handout
y Read the example in passage A and determine whether “justified true belief = knowledge”.
y Read passage B. Study the definition of knowledge in the equation that starts with “S knows that P
is true”.
y Look at the example in passage B and determine whether “justified true belief = knowledge”.
y Follow with class discussion to establish the implications of each example.
y Have each group redefine “knowledge”.
Passage A
He glances at a clock, sees that it says nine o’clock, and believes that it really is nine o’clock, which in
fact it is. Such a person is justified in the belief because it is precisely with respect to glancing at
clocks—or phoning to find out the time—that we do suppose ourselves in possession of the relevant
evidence in such matters. How else would we be justified? If the clock were fine, there is little doubt
that we might say the person knew that it was nine o’clock. It happens that the clock is not fine,
however. It is broken, but, like every broken clock, it ‘tells the right time’, so far as outward appearance
is concerned, twice a day. The deceived person glanced at the clock just when in fact the time really was
nine o’clock. So his belief was true as a matter of accident.
It is easy to generate countless such examples. There is a story by Sartre in which a prisoner, meaning to
deceive his interrogators as to the whereabouts of someone they are seeking, deliberately lies. It just
happens that the person he is seeking to protect is where he says he is. The speaker intended to lie, but
the world tripped him up, and what came from his mouth was true instead. His captors acted on his
words, which they believed true and were justified in believing true. They were justified because a man
in the prisoner’s situation put up his body and his life as collateral. They knew, and assumed he knew,
that if caught in a lie he would die only after terrible torture. So they felt they could act on his words,
which were true—but did they know where the sought-for partisan in fact was, even though they
found him where they (rightly) believed they would? Few of us would say they did.
Connections to the World, AC Danto
Lesson 29: Accident—or Knowledge?
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But it is equally clear that Smith does not know that proposition 3 is true; since
proposition 3 is true because of the number of coins in Smith’s pocket, while Smith
does not know how many coins are in his own pocket, and bases his belief in
proposition 3 on a count of the coins in Jones’s pocket, whom he falsely believes to be
the man who will get the job. So proposition 3 is true, but Smith does not know it.
Conclusion:
Smith is justified in believing that proposition 3 is true. (iii)
Smith believes that proposition 3 is true, and (ii)
proposition 3 is true, (i)
But imagine, further, that unknown to Smith, he himself, not Jones, will get the job.
And, also unknown to Smith, he himself has 10 coins in his pocket. Proposition 3 is
then true, though proposition 2, from which Smith inferred proposition 3, is false. In
our example, then, all of the following are true:
Let us suppose that Smith sees the entailment from proposition 2 to proposition 3,
and accepts proposition 3 on the grounds of proposition 2, for which he has strong
evidence. In this case, Smith is clearly justified in believing that proposition 3 is true.
The man who will get the job has 10 coins in his pocket. Proposition 3:
Smith’s evidence for proposition 2 might be that the president of the company had
assured him that Jones would in the end be selected, and that he, Smith, had counted
the coins in Jones’s pocket ten minutes ago. Proposition 2 entails proposition 3.
Jones is the man who will get the job, and Jones has 10 coins in his pocket. Proposition 2:
Suppose that Smith and Jones have applied for a certain job. And suppose that Smith
has strong evidence for the following conjunctive proposition.
It is argued that proposition 1 is false because the conditions (i), (ii) and (iii) do not
constitute a sufficient condition for the truth of the proposition that S knows that P
is true.
S is justified in believing that P is true. (iii)
S believes that P is true, and (ii)
P is true, (i) iff S knows that P is true Proposition 1:
Various attempts have been made in recent years to state necessary and sufficient conditions for
someone’s knowing a given proposition. The attempts have often been such that they can be stated in a
form similar to the following.
Passage B
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Discussion Questions
y What common threads run through passage A and passage B?
y Respond to the claim that “Accidents and pure luck form most of our beliefs”.
y Is everything you believe true?
y Under what conditions do beliefs change?
y What is the difference between psychological and epistemological certainty?
y Are our beliefs and hypotheses voluntary? Can we choose not to believe and think certain
things?
y What would be impossible for students to believe? What is truly incredible? What would be
the implications of saying “If I cannot believe this, then I cannot accept that”?
Links to Other Areas of TOK
The issue of sufficient knowledge is relevant to all areas of TOK, but some interesting political
and moral judgment issues can be raised. Does insufficient knowledge justify an uninterested
posture? Several political and historical issues can be ignored because of a lack of knowledge of,
for example, the Jews, the Kurds, the Palestinians, the Kosovan Albanians.
Quotations
We all want to know what really happened at certain dark periods in history. One wants to
know whether the accused is guilty of the crime, and in what degree he is guilty, if guilty at all.
AC Danto
References
Danto, AC, Connections to the World: The Basic Concepts of Philosophy, (1997) University California
Press, ISBN 0520208420 p. 132
Gettier, EL, Is Justified, True Belief Knowledge?, (1963) p.12
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TOK Resource Material

IB Online Curriculum Centre
http://occ.ibo.org
The OCC provides TOK teachers with all official documents and forms from the Handbook of
Procedures, Prescribed Essay Titles, Coordinator Notes, links to the TOK Forum and Online
Store. You can also find other resources that were added by teachers throughout the world.
A member school's IB Coordinator should provide each teacher with a school code,
username and password.

Specific Books for TOK
*ALCHIN Nicholas, Theory of Knowledge (2
nd
Edition), Hodder Education, 2006.
*BASTIAN SUE, Heinemann Baccalaureate: Theory of Knowledge, Heinemann, 2008.
*DOMBROWSKI Eileen, ROTENBERG Lena and BICK Mimi, Theory of Knowledge Course
Companion, Oxford University Press, 2007.
*SPROD Tim and MELVIN Antonia, IB Prepared-Approach your assessment the IB Way :
Theory of Knowledge, IB, 2010.
*VAN DE LAGEMAAT Richard, Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma, Cambridge
University Press, 2005.
*WOOLMAN Michael, Ways of Knowing (2nd Edition), IBID Press, 2006.

Various Books Recommended by Various Teachers
*ABEL Reuben, Man is the Measure: A Cordial Invitation to the Central Problems of
Philosophy, The Free Press, 1976.
*BROCKMAN John, What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on
Science and the Age of Certainty, Pocket Books, 2006.
*DURRANT Ariel and Will, The Lessons of History, Simon and Schuster, 1968.
*FEYNMAN Richard, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, Penguin Books, 2001.
*KAY Keith, The Little Giant Book of Optical Illusions, Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., 1997.
*PAULOS John Allen, A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, Anchor Books, 1996.
*PINKER Steven, The Blank Slate, Penguin Books, 2003.
*RUSSELL Bertrand, The Problems of Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 1997.
*SAGAN Carl, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Ballantine
Books, 1996.
*SHERMER Michael, Why Darwin Matters : The Case against Intelligent Design, Times
Books, 2006.
*SHERMER Michael, Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and
Other Confusions of Our Time, Souvenir Press Ltd, 2007.
*TOMKINSON John L., The Enterprise of Knowledge, Leader Books, 1999.

Internet Sites I have recently used and/or enjoyed!)
http://www.tokhelp.com/chap1.html
TOK Help is a website with some lessons that are already written for you.
http://www.anagnosis.gr/index.php?pageID=98&la=eng
Anagnosis Books provides an interesting set of links for IB and university level TOK.
http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/en/russell1.htm
Bertrand Russell’s definition of TOK in 1926.
http://dbhs_sensei.tripod.com/tokcomics.htm!
Well organised list of comics to use for TOK discussions. !
http://www.skeptic.com/
The home page of Skeptic Magazine provides excellent links to interesting knowledge claims
and ideas and science.
http://www.ted.com/
Inspired talks by some of the world's greatest thinkers (e.g. Murray Gell-Mann on beauty and
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truth in physics and Michael Shermer on why people believe weird things).
http://www.archive.org/details/ThePowerOfNightmares
This archive website allows you to view the three chapters of the BBC production The Power
of Nightmares. Elements of TOK are exposed in a series of programmes which suggest that
a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/broadband/archive/feynman/
Parts of the BBC Horizon interview with Richard Feynman are provided. Feynman is a Nobel
Prize winning physicist who shares his insights on science, art, certainty and other TOK
components.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qlJqR4GmKw&feature=related
Conformity shows Dr. Anthony Pratkanis (University of California, Santa Cruz) repeats
Asch's Conformity Experiment. Perception as a WOK is clearly in question.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HypmW4Yd7SY&feature=related
David Tutor performs John Cage's 4'33".
https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
Harvard's Project Implicit : a battery of tests to find out about our racist, sexist selves.
http://www.ronbarnette.com/Zeno/zeno.html
Zeno's Coffeehouse : Ron Barnette's interesting collection of thought bombs to be
considered in any unit of Reasoning as a WOK.
http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/FACULTY/gwells/homepage.htm
Dr. Gary Wells (Iowa State University) provides an eyewitness test.
http://steedmantok.blogspot.com/2009/04/tok-essay.html
Peter Steedman’s TOK blog.

Special Internet Links for Research Writing Help
http://www.aresearchguide.com/styleguides.html
A research guide for students including MLA and APA notes and examples.

Websites used in my Power Point presentation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSZDUt2uE6c&feature=related
1943 Disney cartoon about Reason vs. Emotion.
http://www.sportingo.com/olympic-games/a10076_which-country-really-won-olympics-
bahamas-jamaica-iceland
Beijing Olympic Games : Which country really won the Olympics? Medals per population.
http://www.stubbornmule.net/2008/08/olympics-by-gdp/
Beijing Olympic Games : Which country really won the Olympics ? Medals per GDP.
http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith/varia/snow.html
Hundred Inuit words to say « snow ».
http://www.hku.hk/philodep/ch/Dao.html
How can we translate the Chinese character 道 in English ?
http://www.5min.com/Video/Some-Non-Euclidean-Geometry-169053629
Non-Euclidean geometry for beginners.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1530968201281220365&ei=E8s5S9yfCZjt-
Qb0gLmhDA&q=non+euclidean+geometry&hl=fr&client=safari#
Non-Euclidean geometry for specialists.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahg6qcgoay4
Awareness test : the moonwalking Bear.
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/859124/amazing_audio_illusion/
Sound illusion.
http://www.moillusions.com/2006/05/ringtone-audible-only-to-under-20-year.html
Sound that High school students can hear, but not adults.
http://www.myvideo.ch/watch/1290607
Trapattoni’s emotions.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz65AOjabtM
Wile E. Coyote.
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http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x99eth_calcetto-con-dolore_sport
Pain in sport (Germany).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpEWzkM228w
Pain in sport (Italy).
http://fora.tv/2007/07/04/Clash_Between_Faith_and_Reason#fullprogram
Conference about the clash between Faith and Reason.
http://www.closertotruth.com/video-profile/Is-Mathematics-Invented-or-Discovered-Steven-
Weinberg-/617
Interview of the 1979 Nobel Laureate, Steven Weinberg, on the topic : is Math invented or
discovered ?






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