Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ghostrider has the Ball

In preparation for your January presentations, please select a text (which need not be text) that will yield weighty Knowledge Questions (formerly known as Knowledge Issues). Before A period Monday morning, please post a link to your text as a comment.  In your hunt, remember your three closest allies (all found to the right): 3quarksdaily, RadioLab, and Arts and Letters Daily.

In the meantime, enjoy this serendipitous article from the Paris Review (via Old Faithful) with special appreciation for Ralph Ellison's contribution to our discussion of the symbolic nature of language.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Can You Help a Knower Out?

For Friday, please find a link that will inspire Knowledge Issues.  Post the link to the article in Comments, along with a brief introduction to the piece.
For Tuesday, follow the link posted under (after) yours, then post two knowledge issues that you extract from the piece.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

If I'm not my Brain, Who Is?

For Friday, please complete your critique and revision of your classmate's Knowledge Issues and email same to her.  For Monday, fortified by the understanding this critique provides, please compose two KIs for the article on Embodied Cognition and post them here in Comments.  Beyond that, good luck on exams, and remember to check back before Thanksgiving for your vacation fun.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Do you know what I mean?

With thanks to Larry Ferlazzo and his excellent blog, via Bill Ivey and his excellent emails, please read and respond to the following for Friday.

Review these links on knowledge issues. Please takes notes and respond in the comments section, using these prompts as your non-limiting guide:
1) What is a knowledge issue?
2) What are key ideas to remember when you are trying to write one?
3) Write two or three knowledge issues.
4) Which resource was the best in helping you understand knowledge issues, and why?

Now let's hone those Knowledge Issue skills: read through the articles and watch the video found via the five new links at the top of the "TOK LINKS" list on the right.  Choose two of the links, and derive two KIs from each (for a total of four).  Post them in comments for Tuesday morning; please indicate from which article each KI comes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Issue in Question

Let us begin where we ended.  For Friday, please repost the scientific snippet on which your classmate has written.  Then critique, refute, reinforce, and explore both the quotation and your colleague's close reading.  In the same way we did in class, identify the questions of knowledge at play, and evaluate them.  Plan your writing and craft your thoughts.  Be careful; be exact.

For Tuesday, I invite you (without the possibility of demurral) to explore and share your thoughts on the IB experience thus far.  Please write 600-800 words about how the IB has impacted your life.  It’s early, I know, but it’s never too early to reflect.  This is a formal piece of writing, as the structure, diction, and syntax should reflect.  Be careful, be exact, be honest.  Before class, please email me your essay as an attachment, and bring a printed copy to class.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

She Blinded Me With Science

For your first post in our consideration of Experimental Science as a way of knowing, please transcribe your quotation snippet, then provide a close reading of the text.  Patiently follow your ideas to their ends, and embrace multiplicity of meaning.  For Tuesday, please choose a classmate's post, and respond to her reading with your own analysis, both of the text she provides and of her close reading.  Critique, refute, reinforce, explore.  Only one response per Friday post, please; thus each point will have a counterpoint.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

“We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.”
-Pablo Picasso

“Art renders accessible to [those] of the latest generations all the feelings experienced by their predecessors and also those felt by their best and foremost contemporaries...[Art] is a means of union...joining [people] together in the same feeling. 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 others are infected by those feelings and also experience them...A real work of art destroys in the consciousness of the recipient the separation between himself and the artist, and...also between himself and all whose minds receive this work of art. In this freeing of our personality from its separation and isolation, in this uniting of it with others, lies the chief characteristic and the great attractive force of art.”
-Leo Tolstoy

For Friday:
In one of your other classes, find a lie that makes you realize a truth. Identify the feelings with which it infects you, and consider the nature of your knowledge. Is it subjective? Can it be both subjective and universal?

For Tuesday:
Is there a moment of universal truth described in Friday's comments with which you take issue (where you think the knower plays a subjective role)? How and why would the experience be different for you? Which of the ways of knowing come into play, and how?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Role of the Knower: An Exercise in Contrast

For Friday, please reflect on the text below.  Your writing should include—though not be limited to—answers to the four questions that follow the excerpt.  Check back Friday afternoon for a second text on which to write, including as always your take on others’ thoughts from the first round.

“If when we learn new things we can see the world differently, then as we learn new things we react to it differently.  We are then living in a different world, a world with different possibilities, different impossibilities.  Which world is the right one, the real one?  Is it the new world or the old?  What do we mean by this question?  And, ultimately the question, if this is true, what new things should we try to learn so as to live in a different world?” (Lawrence LeShan, Alternate Realities: The Search for the Whole Human Being. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987, 8.)

1. What happens to us when we learn?
2. What happens to the world when we learn?
3. Do human beings, living in the same society, live in different worlds because of what they know?             
4. How does the following quote, from Emerson's Self-Reliance, affect your thinking on the previous question? “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius."

Friday Update:
Please continue your conversation in the context of the following ideas and questions.

"Fact and truth really don't have much to do with each other"
-William Faulkner

"Every knowledge system is shaped by the characteristics of the society that produced it.  We are accustomed to considering the flow in the opposite direction, seeing how scientific and technological advances have shaped modern society.  But it is of critical importance to recognize both flows.  We have the kind of society we have in part because of the fruits of science and technology.  But the converse is also true: we have the kind of science we have in part because of the particular nature of the society in which it was developed."  (Willis Harman, Global Mind Change: The Promise of the Last Years of the Twentieth Century.  Indianapolis: Knowledge Systems, Inc., 1988, 27.)

1.  How has your knowledge system been shaped by your society?  For example, how has science been shaped by your society?
2.  Can different societies have different sciences, histories, etc.?

And speaking of decoding, check this out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What are you suggesting?

If we begin with a definition of connotations—found here or elsewhere—then the act of understanding them is one of decoding.  For Friday morning and your first round of comments, please identify and record here one act of decoding you commit (prosecuted or otherwise) in a class other than TOK.  Detail for us the explicit meaning of the text and all the implicit meanings you find, as well as how you use these meanings.  Then, in the context of what we’ve heard, read, and thought about free will (follow this for a new reading before your second posting) and how we choose, do some writing for Tuesday morning in which you reflect on the decisions you make in the process of decoding these implications.  To what extent are your understandings decisions that you control?  Remember, too, that these second rounds of comments should reflect your considerations of each other’s ideas.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Hi Team.  This will be your TOK home away from (and during) class for the next two years.  Here you will find links of interest, including homework assignments.  You will be asked (that is, required) to read, consider, comment, repeat.  Generally, you will need to comment on each text by Friday morning at 8 am, then again by Tuesday at 8 am, this second comment reflecting your consideration of each other's ideas from the first round of comments.  You should each be coming to class having read both rounds of comments and ready to continue discussion from where they leave off.  In this way, we will have ongoing discussions running through the weeks before classes.
As you and your TOK skills develop, you will take on greater responsibility for posts and links.  There will also be video.