AN ORIGINAL PODCAST FOR TEACHERS, STUDENTS AND OTHER CURIOUS PEOPLE
In this episode, I sat down with Donna Gee (IB Design Technology Teacher) and Michael Stewart (IB Psychology and TOK Teacher) to unpack and wrestle with 2023 TOK Essay Title 1: Is replicability necessary in the production of knowledge? Discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge.
We had a rich discussion which I hope you’ll find insightful into the role and relevance of replicability in different Areas of Knowledge.
In this episode, I talked to Ian Galley (IBDP English Language & Literature) Nicole Mamphey (Science and Applied Ethics) about TOK Essay Title 3: Does it matter if our acquisition of knowledge happens in “bubbles” where some information and voices are excluded? Discuss with reference to two areas of knowledge.
We had a rich discussion about “bubbles'' as they exist in social media networks and internet platforms as well as within academia, algorithms, and how this contributes to, enhances and distorts our bubbles. We also discussed many of the real world consequences (why it matters!) that what we’re learning may occur in these bubbles.
We discussed relevant ideas including retracted findings of psychology and vaccination studies, bubbles in comedy and how it fits with the Benign Violation Theory, perspectives and the Soldier vs. Scout Mindset by Julia Galef, Spiral of Silence Theory and the social tendency to reinforce bubbles and silences descending voices, and the Metaverse. We discuss the difference between a community and a bubble: which one is more open to other ideas? How do they overlap?
We unpack and explore: Does it matter (to who? for what?) Does it matter to our acquisition of knowledge? Does it matter to the voices that are excluded? We challenge the notion that science is objective, and discuss how even in the sciences we want to reinforce what fits our own perspective and beliefs. We also begin to discuss voices that are excluded: silenced voices - why this matters!
In this episode, I met with Dr. PS and Janka Steinkamp (both IB English teachers to talk about Essay Title 4: Do you agree that it is “astonishing that so little knowledge can give us so much power” (Bertrand Russell)? Discuss with reference to the natural sciences and one other area of knowledge.
I hope you find this episode as interesting as we did. If you’re looking for the TOK Essay Title Posters I mentioned, you can find them here.
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance” (Confucius in 500 BC)
Today I had a really insightful discussion with IB Theatre teacher, Alex Campion. We talked about May 2023 TOK Essay Title 6: To what extent is the knowledge we produce determined by the methodologies we use? Discuss with reference to history and one other area of knowledge.
Of course we talked about the Arts, attempting to give light to artistic methods in contrast with "the scientific method". I really enjoyed this one, and hope it leaves you thinking a little about the connection between the way we choose to produce knowledge and the impact it has on what we know. Stay tuned for more of these Essay Title discussions in the next few weeks!
Today I had a coffee with Bill Kyzner and Bob Scheer and we unpacked the 2023 May Title 2: For artists and natural scientists, which is more important: what can be explained or what cannot be explained? Discuss with reference to the arts and the natural sciences. Questions that arose included: When does one become an “artist” or “scientist”? What does it mean to “explain”? Important for the artist/scientist to do what? So many different questions and ideas came up as we talked, I hope this gives you some food for your TOK thought!
To unravel this question, I met with Sarah Rodgers (DP Chemistry & MYP Science Teacher) & Alice Brookes (DP Bio & MYP Science Teacher). Together, we talk about a range of reasons we might doubt claims that are made about knowledge, and conversely what might make knowledge claims more trustworthy. We touch upon a variety of criteria, and discuss issues related to science, doubt in the time of Darwin when religion ran the world, the conflicting information about nutrition, as well as the current political climate in areas around the globe. It’s always fascinating to talk with people from different areas of the world, especially international teachers because we see things from both our own culture, our host culture, and sometimes a third global perspective as well.
Are we immune from the challenge of doubting the norm? Should we really doubt everything? Should we question everything? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? These are important questions to consider and I hope you take some time to think about the things you take for granted and where you’ve developed “cognitive ease” around what you believe.
Cognitive Ease a 5 min youtube video summing up Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow section on Cognitive Ease
Once again, thank you Bernard Wun for music to bring us in and out of today’s discussion.
In this episode, I sat down with DP Design Teacher Donna Gee and DP Global Politics Teacher Bill Kyzner to discuss TOK Exhibition Prompt 5: What counts as good evidence for a claim? It really got me thinking about the significance of this question in my own personal knowledge about myself and the world, but also in a bigger sense about claims being made in today’s very heated political world. We stayed focused in this talk about evidence and claims within Design and Global Politics, but I cannot stop thinking about how perspectives play a very significant role in just how much evidence is enough to be “good” enough, and the implications this has on all kinds of knowledge communities. There really is so much more to be said about this prompt. I’m gearing up to do a reflection episode, so if you have comments or things you’d like to add, please send me a message via the contact page at www.TOKTalk.org.
And thank you thank you thank you to Bernard Wun for his lovely guitar licks on this track!
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.
Today we delve into the world of Statistics, and unpack how it can be a tool that can both reveal and conceal. To help me with this complicated question, I’ve asked some well-informed people to help me unpack this year’s TOK Essay Title 4: “Statistics conceal as much as they reveal”
Here with me today are Ms. Zehra Baig, Statistics teacher, Mr. Martin Brown, Mathematics teacher and Ms. Virginia Voigt, Psychology teacher. We discuss:
Music Credit: The Plastic Daizi Collective, 2015
Joining me today are Dr. Rachel Oser – a Research Scientist & Teacher, Mr. David Fenwick: a Physics, Mathematics and Engineering Teacher, and Mr. Kevin Hoye, an English and fellow TOK Teacher. The prompt is this years’ essay Title 6:
“Avoiding bias seems a commendable goal but this fails to recognize the positive role that bias can play in the pursuit of knowledge”
Questions we discuss:
* Why might avoiding bias be a commendable goal in the discipline you teach? What are some of the measures taken to avoid these biases in your discipline?
* The title seems to imply that it isn’t possible to avoid bias – do you agree? Are some biases therefore fundamental? In what ways?
* What positive role(s) might it play in the pursuit of knowledge in your discipline?
I really enjoyed this conversation, and I hope this gets you thinking about your own biases as well as the positive and negative roles they have in the disciplines you study.
Original music by Emily Osann
Should we as a global society value knowledge produced with reason over all other ways of knowing? In this episode, I explore a little more about the strengths and limitations of reason in contrast with intuition, faith and imagination. I’d like to give credit and thanks to the intro singer Kelsang Dorjee from Tibet with whom I had the pleasure of meeting and singing with a few years ago in Shanghai.