HOW CAN WE NAVIGATE THE WORLD?
TOK IN A POST-TRUTH WORLD
The pursuit of truth really matters.
TOK cultivates a nuanced and very particular mindset that is, at once, subversive, curious and pluralistic. We are only human. Embracing our inherent fallibility and the frontiers of our ignorance are essential to our quest for knowledge and understanding. At times we must live with ambiguity, incommensurability and paradox.
How can we recognize multiple perspectives without descending into “anything goes” relativism?
TOK students are navigating new and pernicious distractions that undermine thinking. Recently, the sheer volume of online digital dross, and obfuscations like “alternative facts” and “fake news,” have made the noble pursuit of truth more difficult. IB students are also encouraged to recognize the value of multiple perspectives. This too is eroded by post-truth banality.
These most prescient challenges have informed the latest TOK reforms.
THE NEW TOK CURRICULUM MODEL:
SOME ESSENTIAL BACKGROUND READING
The TOK Subject Guide for first teaching in 2020, and first assessment in 2022, will appear in the IBO Program Resource Center in February 2020. The following short reads are essential for TOK teachers who would like an early look at the next TOK iteration. This a bold shift. With an emphasis on exploring rather than formulating Knowledge Questions, the new program will be more accessible and will certainly make formal assessment less contentious.
Gillett, J. (2018) Ambiguity, uncertainty and the ‘post-truth’ world: Implications for the IB Diploma Programme Theory of Knowledge Course. International Schools Journal Vol. XXXVIII. (45-51) November 2018.
Theory of Knowledge Curriculum Review: Update Report for Teachers 2019. Available at IBO Resource Center after login.
SUMMER READS FOR STUDENTS
Here are three pocket-sized books that are tried and trusted summer reads for TOK students at the French American International School in San Francisco.
Frankel, V. E. (1959) Man’s Search for Meaning. 2006 paperback, Beacon Press Boston, MA.
Rovelli, C. (2015) Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. Penguin Random House UK
Camus, A. (1982) The Myth of Sisyphus. Translation 1955 by Justin O’Brien. Originally published as Le Mythe de Sisyphe, 1942. Vintage International Paperback. Knopf, NY.
Here are two more that we have in mind currently to ready student thinking for the New TOK Curriculum Model. They will help provide a critical edge for transcending post-truth banality.
Snyder, T. (2017) On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. Tim Duggan Books of Penguin Random House, NY.
Macintyre, J. (2018) Post Truth. MIT Press. Cambridge, MA.