Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rx: Knowledge

Welcome back to your knowledge home.  Take a look at the prescribed titles for your TOK essays, below.  For Tuesday, please write a response to one of these titles, beginning by quoting the title.  Whichever you choose, use examples from two areas of knowledge to explore your responses.  Consider multiple perspectives and center your response on knowledge issues raised by the title and the areas of knowledge you select.  In class, we will discuss in greater detail the structure and assessment of these essays.

Theory of Knowledge Prescribed Titles:

1.  In what ways may disagreement aid the pursuit of knowledge in the natural and human

2. “Only seeing general patterns can give us knowledge.  Only seeing particular examples
can give us understanding.”  To what extent do you agree with these assertions?

3.  “The possession of knowledge carries an ethical responsibility.” Evaluate this claim.

4. The traditional TOK diagram indicates four ways of knowing.  Propose the inclusion of a
fifth way of knowing selected from intuition, memory or imagination, and explore the
knowledge issues it may raise in two areas of knowledge. 

5. “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
(Christopher Hitchens).  Do you agree?

6. Can we know when to trust our emotions in the pursuit of knowledge?  Consider history
and one other area of knowledge.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Now Presenting...

For next class, please come in with your proposal for the form and subject matter of your practice presentation.  You should be ready to discuss these with me and with one another.  I've shared with you a document that details the goals and structure of the presentations and which includes several example topics, formats, and personal perspectives.  You do not need to post about this process--simply arrive on Tuesday ready to work.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Knowledge Travels in a Cycle, Yes it Does...

By next Tuesday morning, please have and document an Ah-Ha! moment.  As we discussed and demonstrated tonight, this moment should originate in a text (idea, discussion, concept, etc) in a class other than TOK.  The Eureka! occurs when you connect it, via a knowledge question, to another area of your life or knowledge.  Trust your instincts: if you intuit a connection, you need not immediately be able to articulate it to pursue it.  That said, please lucidly formulate the connection before you write about it here.  Though of course, you will have formulated your thought several seconds before you're aware you have.  Finally, here's proof I don't make up the songs I sing in class.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Shifting Shapes of Ways of Knowing

For Friday, let us attempt to turn last week's work on its head: a rationalization is an attempt to ascribe one's actions, opinions, etc. to causes that seem reasonable (that is, based on reason) but that are actually unrelated to the real (and often less reasonable) causes.  In other words, this is an emotionally driven attempt to create knowledge via reason.  Two questions, then: do you agree with this definition of rationalization (and please explain your answer)?  What rationalization can you identify in the world around you and how do you account for its existence (why and how was it created)?

For Tuesday, now that you have had your EE feedback conference, share a moment of fresh perspective on some aspect of your essay and the way that the moment of knowledge changed for you.

For extra credit, watch this video and bring a flexahexagon to class on Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lines in the Sand

For Friday, continue to consider Michael Gordin's discussion of Karl Popper and attempts at demarcation.  As Gordin suggests in the fourth paragraph and elsewhere, we have an emotional need for scientific accuracy, and often evaluate the extent to which disciplines are scientific based on common sense or gut instinct.  Mightn't we call this an emotional way of knowing if something is scientific?

As we began to do this evening, identify two arenas in which you operate where demarcation of this sort is valued.  To what extent is it arbitrary?  How and for what reasons do (or might) the demarcations change and shift?  What does this say about the arena and the ways its knowledge is created?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Drop the Content and Move On

In keeping with our closing discussion in class tonight, let's consider instances when methodology supersedes content.  Return to Oliver Kim's post on prescribed titles and consider the questions he poses in support of title 5.  Answer these questions for Friday morning.  Before school Tuesday, please choose two areas of knowledge and use them to answer the prescribed title its self.  Finally, please arrive to class ready to discuss this article in the context of our discussion of experts and knowing.  Welcome back.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Beauty by Numbers

As I walk the shores of Lake Huron, I am put in mind of Oliver Wendell Holmes's The Chambered Nautilus, which please join me in taking as a natural (ha!) link from last week's post to this week's exploration of Fibonacci.  Having read these two pieces, consider the following, adapted from Arup Guha's links to his TOK past:

Most math problems have multiple solutions that are significantly different. In this assignment, choose a single math problem from the 4 below and solve it two different ways, the more different, the better. After showing each solution to your problem, discuss which of the two solutions you feel is more elegant/beautiful.

An example problem is shown here:

Find the area of a triangle with side lengths 5, 12, and 13:

1)    Solve for the angle across the side 13 using the law of cosines:

cos C = (52 + 122 – 132)/(2*5*12)
cos C = 0
C = 90°, thus, 5 and 12 form a base and height for the triangle and the
area is (.5)(5)(12) = 30.

2)    Use Heron’s formula: A = √(s)(s-a)(s-b)(s-c), where s is the semiperimeter of the triangle.

S = (5+12+13)/2 = 15
Area =  √(15)(15-5)(15-12)(15-13) = √(15)(10)(3)(2) = √900 = 30

Please choose one of the following problems for your posting:

1) If log(xy3) = 1 and log(x2y) = 1, what is log (xy)?

2) Mr. Earl E. Bird leaves his house for work at exactly 8:00A.M. every morning. When he averages 40 miles per hour, he arrives at his workplace three minutes late. When he averages 60 miles per hour, he arrives three minutes early. At what average speed, in miles per hour, should Mr. Bird drive to arrive at his workplace precisely on time?

3) What is the area of the triangle bounded by the lines y = x, y = -x and y = 6?

4) Given that x2+y2 = 14x + 6y + 6, what is the largest possible value that 3x+4y can have?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Letter of the Floating World

I owe you an apology.  It's been far too long since I posted a poem.  Mea culpa.  Here we are examining knowledge and I have sorely neglected your need for close reading practice.  Fear not, noble knowers!  Here, via our old friend 3 Quarks Daily, is a powerful, subtle, and complicated verse for your perusal.  Please think and write about the effects of the point of view and voice(s), the allusive assumptions the author makes (research as needed), and of course the impacts of metaphor on you.  Conclude with a statement of meaning (authorial intent) for the poem.  Do this, please, for Monday 6 August and I will do the same from Michigan's Thumb.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Your Green Sounds a Little Flat

This week, please watch and listen as artist Neil Harbisson describes how he listens to color.  In responding (which please do for Friday at local noon), please consider two questions: to what extent can one sensory way of knowing be substituted for another?  Which of your ways of knowing does this lecture employ or trigger, and how and why?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Please Extend an Invitation to Know

As we reach midsummer, share with one another, please, a moment of knowledge from your Extended Essay work and the unexpected way you have connected it to another area of your life.  In order, then: what interesting, challenging, surprising, frustrating instance of intellectual inquiry are you sharing? By what process or path have you grappled with same? How did it resonate elsewhere in your life?  What is the knowledge question that connects these moments?  Also, check this out (sit down first).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Same But Different

We are all familiar with metaphors--their uses, their forms, their power--and so I wonder if they offer a familiar way to effectively master the Knowledge Question.  Please begin by considering Dr. Wheeler's definition of metaphor, paying particular attention to the quote from Aristotle. Next, please revisit this excellent explanation of how to extract knowledge issues, especially germane given the recent boson news.  Select a metaphor from your surroundings (summer reading? Extended Essay? Anyone?) and consider the ways in which it leads you to extract and transpose your knowledge.  Your post should reflect your careful reflection on all of the above.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Take a Stab at Color

This week, let's keep thinking about perspective in such a way as to reconnect with our neuroscience past, considering the interplay of mind and physics.  Listen, please, to this Radiolab podcast.  Consider the ways you the knower are also you the seer.  What is the relationship between your two roles?  Write about this.  Also, please extract a knowledge issue from the podcast and transpose it to a moment of knowledge in your own life (not an imagined one).  Remember, this does not mean a moment in which you also investigate color: drop the content.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Weighing In on Scale

In the middle of the transition to summer, to a changing role at SBS, the anticipation of my sister's wedding, and my impending age mile stone, I find myself thinking about the powerful effects of perspective.  In accepting my implicit invitation to join in this reflection, please take two steps before writing: consider this incredible sliding scale; choose an aspect of your life and examine the ways you have considered it differently from different places.  For local noon on Friday 29 June, please write about the effects of perspective on you the knower.  While shifts in perspective over time are powerful and important, focus instead here on those shifts brought on by changes in your location.  As the link suggests, "closer" and "farther" are different locations.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Very Good Place To Start

Greetings Knowers and happy summer. When we were last together, the big ideas were flying fast and furious, as were the hugs and roses. With a week's perspective (or amnesia) under your belt, please revisit Mia's speech. Extract a knowledge question from the speech and connect it to another moment of knowledge from your own life. This writing is due Friday 22 June at noon (in your time zone).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

They're Everywhere

As you finish term projects and prepare for exams, be on the lookout for interesting ways of knowing.  For Friday, please describe an instance to which you then apply the question "does knowledge, including culture, depend on language?"  For Monday, build on the observation and analysis of a classmate; extract a knowledge issue from another's Friday post and connect it to a separate moment of knowledge of your own.  You may even wish to view the moment through an Andersonian lens.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How Can I Help?

On the heels of Sonia's powerful and impressive senior project presentation last night, I would like us to consider the difficult conflict of idealism and practicality.  As Emilie highlighted with her question for Sonia, there are limitations and challenges in the delivery of aid of any sort.

For Friday, please think carefully and write thoroughly about these questions: What should one do in the face of a genuinely needy child applying for help in the guise of an orphan?  In this case, we reach the intersection of emotion and reason, empathy and mathematics.  How do we reconcile these ways of knowing?  Is there an objective ethical answer?  In responding, please consider yourself as the knower.  What experiences and perspectives from your life contribute to your response?

For Monday, identify and examine another instance of the intersection of reason and emotion.  Consider anew how it should be handled and how you know.

Monday, May 14, 2012

There Are Two Errors in the the Title of This Post

Let's continue our logical immersion.  For Friday, please tackle these logic puzzles.  Work patiently and with a pencil, reasoning out the consequences of each statement and, where appropriate, its speaker.  In your post examine the ways your thinking changed or developed to accommodate this task.  What was most difficult?  How did you arrive at the answers?

For Monday, journey to reasonable old England and work through this logic tutorial on consistency and validity.  Once on the site, follow the Tutorials link, then select Tutorial One.  Continue until you finish Exercise 1.4.  Having completed this, consider (in writing) how the skills this tutorial develops help you understand the puzzles above.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I Didn't Know the Question was Loaded

Picking up on our discussion of strawmen and their ilk, and as a way of reinforcing our commitment to explicitly stating that which we mean and wish to convey, please read (and perhaps carry with you) this wonderful list of logical fallacies.  For Friday morning (and then again for Monday morning) please notice, record, and categorize a logical fallacy in action.  Your comment should include the quoted text of the fallacy, the type, and an explanation of what makes it that type.  In the interest of kindness and good will, please only identify the speaker if she or he is a public figure; this is an exercise in critical thinking, not public shame.  The two fallacies you identify must come from two different sources and be of two different sorts.  Also before next time please revise your Design and Research comment to reflect our class discussion.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Designing Research, Researching Design

With the discourse of the MIT panel and its impressive audience still firmly in our minds, please do some thinking and writing about Design and Research (as opposed to a search).  For Monday morning, formulate and share your definitions of these two terms.  Also, share your thoughts on whether the two are necessarily distinct.  Is there overlap?  Are the distinctions you draw necessary or convenient?  How so, and if the latter, what purpose does the distinction serve?  In other words, what is the role of the knower?  As a possible starting point, here are the aspects of research as defined by Warren Seering (who, I was thrilled to see, lists design as a research interest):
1. Study the designer
2. Examine the design artifact (eg. the house)
3. Understand the methods of understanding
4. Define the tools (CAD, the hammer, etc.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pain is How Your Brain Says "Thank You"

For next Monday morning (which is one week before our next class on May 7), please find a moment of knowledge that you do not yet fully comprehend.  In working, then, to understand it, work also to understand the nature of its components (as with velocity and acceleration).  In so doing, relate that moment of newly acquired knowledge (with which you may still be wrestling) to another in a different area of knowledge.  Then, you guessed it, document the entire process in a post that culminates in a Knowledge Question.  Remember in your documentation to consider the ways the process was shaped by your role as the unique knower.

Monday, April 9, 2012

I Know how you Feel

For Friday morning, please post your EE research question and an associated knowledge question, then do the same for the next research question on the list I sent you.  Remember to craft KQs that are not content specific.  Feel free to collaborate on this process.
For Monday, let's continue our discussion of emotion as a way of knowing.  Watch this video of Jane Elliot's experiment in discrimination.  How does emotion shape the ways we define and use the lessons of this piece?  Next, watch this skit from the first season of Saturday Night Live, in which a job interviewer (Chevy Chase) administers a word association test to a prospective employee (Richard Pryor).  What makes this skit funny?  How are your emotions manipulated?  To what extent does it rely on certain assumptions about the audience's morality? [a word of caution: the language in this skit is, necessarily, strong]  At the end of your comment, please write a knowledge question derived from one of the videos.

Monday, April 2, 2012

He's so haole he doesn't even know he's haole

For Monday morning, in the context of Peggy McIntosh's article, consider your own knapsack.  In what different settings of your life do you have advantages and disadvantages?  To what degrees are they unspoken, unacknowledged?  What might you do to level the playing field?  Is it possible to increase the power and privilege of one group without a reciprocal lessening of the advantaged group?  In addition to your comments, please extract and post one knowledge question from the article.  Here's the source of this week's title: a clip from North Shore.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Eracing (sic) Knowledge

Let us begin with the assumption that we respect and value one another despite (and indeed because of) our differences.  What if one or more of those differences disappeared?  And what if that disappearance was the result of a conceptual change rather than a change in those that we see as different?  Before you return, refreshed and reinvigorated by break, please read this article and post a comment reflecting on the ideas therein and on your own responses.  Does this information change the way you view race?  What is the relationship between genetic makeup and views on race?  Between facts and their implications and our assessment of objectivity (our own and others')?
Please complete your first post by the morning of Monday 26 March.  By 8am on the following Monday (2 April, our next class day), please respond to one another's comments and compose a Knowledge Question that applies to the article.  Thanks and have a wonderful March.  Oh, and if you find yourself running low on awesome spend a little time here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Questions We Hope Remain Irrelevant

  • To what extent will the incompleteness theorem apply to your Extended Essay?
  • As every human is shaped by experience and influence, can an Extended Essay be original?
  • Does the unknowable inspire significant Extended Essays?
 For next week's class (1/24), please read chapters 1-3 in the IB Extended Essay book (pp1-21).  In class, Ms. Durrett will present an overview of the EE and get you started on the first step: brainstorming your proposed subject areas.  Bring thoughts and questions.  Bring your book, too.

Also, next week you will present an overview of what you learned through interviewing your chosen person about his/her own research project, so come with your notes and be prepared to synthesize your conversation and reflections.

Because I know you all read and loved the last one, here's another of my favorite Browning monologues, this one creepier than the last.

Finally, congratulations to you all on your first round of presentations.  You thought and spoke with bravery and grace; I learned a tremendous amount and was led to connections I would not otherwise have approached.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Formalizing Your Curiousity

As we discussed in class, and as your handout details, for next time please schedule, prepare for, complete, and take notes on your interview with the member of the faculty or staff you have selected.  Remember that this interview should focus on the process and methods of research, not the subject matter.  Please bring your notes to our next class.
Congratulations to tonight's presenters, and happy extended preparation (as needed) to next week's.  In the meantime, enjoy one of my favorite dramatic monologues by Robert Browning.  Also consider this article on the father of geology, and consider the ramifications of the fossils-are-rocks-that-fell-from-the-moon theory which preceded Steno's work.