After 16 years of life experience and more than a decade of formal education behind them, TOK students are knowers—in medias res―already in the thick of the action. TOK allows them to step back from the relentless acquisition of knowledge to ask: “how we know what we claim to know?”

A TOK classroom is nothing if not generative. TOK explores how Knowledge is acquired, both as individual quest and as dynamic social activity. Risking ideas in the public arena is key. Students are encouraged to discover and express their views and to share ideas with others and to listen to and learn from what others think. 

TOK is all about asking questions and daring to know for oneself. It is subversive in the sense that it discourages swallowing piecemeal conventional ideas of the day or the prepackaged opinions of peers or authority figures.


1. ME AS A KNOWER AND A THINKER

Shared Knowledge and Personal Knowledge
Knowledge Questions
TOK and metacognitive possibilities
In medias res
Who do you think you are?
Capable and Fallible

2. WHAT SHAPES MY PERSPECTIVE?

Seven not five senses?
Optical illusions
Active vision—blindspot and eye tracking experiments
Epistemic hunger—touch and hearing
Tension and release
The unreliability of eyewitness reporting
Phineas Gage—iconic neuroscience patient
The tip of the iceberg
Intuition Anonymous
Can you, should you, “trust your gut”? 
Cognitive bias

3. WHERE DO OUR VALUES COME FROM?

Are ethics and morality the same thing?
The seven deadly sins
Trolley Problems
Ethical frames
Vera Drake: saint or serial killer?
Asch and Milgram experiments
Burkini
Gorilla language and personhood

4. HOW CAN WE NAVIGATE THE WORLD?

TOK in a post truth world

2. HOW CAN WE TELL WHEN WE ARE BEING MANIPULATED?

Belief without evidence
Pascal's wager

 
Andrew Brown (2005)   Emma, Noah and William in Galicia.  Oil on canvas.

Andrew Brown (2005) Emma, Noah and William in Galicia. Oil on canvas.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Special thanks to Bruno Barros, Kevin Bartlett, Melinda Bihn, Kit Blamey, David Bodlak, Heather Bodlak de Cancela, Sara Bodlak, Christine Bois, Alain Brizard, Tim Brown, Nick Brown, Ellen Burdge, Jane Camblin, Marie-Pierre Carlotti, Martha Close, Joel Cohen, Antoine Delaitre, Joan Dimancescu, Coumba Diouf, Steve Dodge, Eunice Gillan, David Goldberg, Jerry Goldberg, Kate Goldberg, Gregor Guy-Smith, Dan Harder, Michelle Haner, Ellen Herda, Russ Jones, Laura Kelly, Alioune Kone El-Adji, Aaron Levine, Netta Maclean, Tarly Manak, Michael Markowitz, Peter McBain, Mariane Merle, Jihad Mirza, Robert Movradinov, Scott Paton, Linda Oppelt Perez, Miguel Perez, Matthew Perifano, Ken Ralston, Norman Rainger, Bill Roberts, Hugh Robertson, Colleen Rohan, Dan Rosenberg, Jeremie Rostan, Ian Rutherford, Patricia Sellars, Peter Sellars, Darren Scully, Mariam Sleiman, David Stockwell, Ann-Marie Stoehr, David Sutcliffe, Hilary Sy-Quia, Elijah Tanumyroshgi, Tom Tompkins, Richard Ulffers, Fabrice Urrizalqui, Rasmus Winther, Keelee Wrenn and hundreds of Biology and TOK students.

Dedicated with love to Mara Lea Brown and, with an eye towards posterity, to my children, Emma, Noah and William Brown.  

In memory of Edward Paul Charles Kelly, Brenda Kelly and Ronald Victor Brown.

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