AN ORIGINAL PODCAST FOR TEACHERS, STUDENTS AND OTHER CURIOUS PEOPLE
I met with Jon Rees, another TOK Teacher (as well as teacher of Human Technologies and IB English) here in Hong Kong, and we discussed TOK Exhibition Prompt 23: How important are material tools in the production or acquisition of knowledge? It was a fascinating discussion! Students, you need to be careful in this question about the difference between producing knowledge and producing things. While there is a connection (knowledge is needed to produce things), it is not an obvious connection so an exploration of the knowledge being produced (not just the thing) is required here. I think it would be very hard to argue that material tools (and conceptual tools by extension?) are not essential - and yet there’s room for exploration as you can hear from our conversation. I hope to talk with Mr. Rees again soon, as it was a very interesting and thought provoking conversation.
Books & Resources that we referenced and discussed in relation to this talk:
Guest: Jon Rees
Music from the ISF Student Brass Band playing outside the school gate one morning in December 2023
Thank you to Waffling Beans for letting us use your space to record!
Recently I met with Naomi Chevannes who teaches Design Technology here in Hong Kong. We discussed TOK Exhibition Prompt 15: What constraints are there on the pursuit of knowledge? Breaking this down we discussed constraints such as access, tools, time, language, personal experience, motivation, perspectives, funding… We found possible divisions of these constraints such as inner and outer constraints, as well as an elegant distinction between constraints to the pursuit of knowledge which are within or without our control. We talked about knowledge as a buffet, and contrasted that with a famine (we may have gotten a little carried away with our food metaphor, as we were meeting just before lunch!! I really enjoyed this conversation, so thank you so much to Naomi for taking time out of a busy day to sit down and talk TOK with me.
This is the first of a series of Bilingual TOK Talk Podcasts! Today I met with four Chinese speaking colleagues to discuss the question: 具有不同文化及語言背景的人們是否生活在不同的世界中? “Do people with different cultural or language backgrounds live in different worlds?”
Sun Laoshi led this conversation, and together we met with Liu Yu, Zhang Qiong Laoshi and Bai Laoshi. These teachers shared their understanding of this topic from multiple perspectives based on their own personal experience. Sun and I personally benefited a lot from this discussion, and I look forward to more Chinese teachers participating in this series in the future.
I would especially like to thank Wang Mei Tyng Laoshi for the beautiful original musical composition especially prepared for this podcast.
Today I’m joined by Liu Yu, aka Mr. LY, teacher of Chinese Humanities and Assistant Principal at ISF Academy in HK. We discuss Exhibition Prompt 6: How does the way we organise or classify knowledge affect what we know? We explore Confucian values in China as a way of organising knowledge (and by extension society) within Chinese culture. We also consider language and culture as ways we organize knowledge, and explore how in our personal experiences we’ve been able to step outside our own individual cultures in order to understand more about the world.
We also really get into the challenge of language as a way we know about the world, and the complexities of translation, as well as how having more varieties of language allows us to become more aware of the nuances of our experiences around us. There is still a lot more to discuss about this question, especially in the realms of art, science and humanities!
Thanks again to Bernard Wun for the guitar that brings us in and out of this one! Links for further investigation:
Do good explanations have to be true?
Today’s topic is a previous TOK Essay title: “Do good explanations have to be true?” To help me explore this question, I am joined by four fellow IB & TOK Teachers: Mr. Bill Kyzner representing Political Science, Mr. Francis Wynne, representing the Classics, including Latin Language & Greek Mythology, Mr. Jordan West-Pratt representing Natural Sciences, and today I’ll be representing the Arts.
Questions we discuss in relation to Natural Sciences, Political Science, Classics and the Arts:
Three things that stand out to me after this conversation:
Finally, I still am left wondering about the relationship of truth to the goodness of an explanation, and how that might differ depending on the audience of the explanation - who is the explanation for? what is its’ purpose? and does that determine what makes it good rather than its truth quality? There’s still much to be considered here. A title like this one seems so simple, and yet so complex once we start to unpack it.
No matter if you’re a TOK student, teacher or knowledge enthusiast, I hope that our discussion got you thinking about the relationship of good explanations and truth in your areas of interest or expertise. Tune in again next time for the next episode of TOK Talk.
Thank you to the random street performer in Shanghai for the intro and outro music.
In this episode, I sat down and talked with my oldest daughter, who graduated last May from an IB school in Shanghai and is now studying Art at Parsons in New York. We discussed her experience as an IB student and she shares her perspective about TOK, CAS and IB in general. She also shares some honest advice in general about getting through IB and applying for Universities, as well as her experience and challenges as a Third Culture Kid in University. We share some good laughs in this episode, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did. Credit to Leah Osann and Xoai David for their beautiful vocal harmony, and Xoai on the guitar in their interpretation of No Surrender by Bruce Springsteen (hope the Boss won’t mind…)