#tok students map knowledge with tools they created themselves #tokrew11 @sharpcomposer

Note dump

On Monday #tokrew11 (our hashtag for our Grade 11 Theory of Knowledge class) went into a Grade 10 Physics class to observe how knowledge was stored, moved and processed during a lab. As knowledge ethnographers, we were looking for the following:

  • How is information/knowledge stored in this room? By the people in the room?
  • What kinds of information/knowledge  are stored in this room?
  • Do people use all the information/knowledge  stored and available to them or are they selective?
  • Is some information/knowledge  there but unavailable to the people in the room?
  • How do the people in this room store information/knowledge?
  • How is information/knowledge  transmitted? Capture the obvious and not so obvious.
  • How do people capture information/knowledge ?
  • How do they process it?
  • How do you know when they have internalized the information/knowledge  and made it knowledge?
  • How do you know what information/knowledge is important and not so important?
  • Who controls the information? The flow of information?
  • Anything else that strikes you as interesting?

Later, as shown In the picture above, we dumped our observations onto a white board, worked them over to be sure we had good data, and grouped them under four headings:

  • What kinds of knowledge did we find?
  • Where was it stored?
  • How was is moved from one place to another?
  • How was it processed?

When we were done, we pulled out our map of knowledge. This is an original visual metaphor the students created to model the structure of knowledge. Our map was built on hypothetical examples, but this was the first time we would test whether we could model what we observed in the physics class–a real world example of knowledge in motion.


On the map, continents represent the Areas of Knowledge (Arts, Ethics, History, Human Sciences, Indigenous systems, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Religious Systems) sailboats represent the Ways of Knowing (Emotion, Faith, Imagination, Intuition, Language, Memory, Reason, Sense Perception) and ocean currents linking ideas such as the concepts of belief and proof.

The map metaphor held up reasonably well. We were able to model observed and inferred behaviours in the physics class: we had, for example, Memory (sailboat) bring a cargo of formula (factual recall) and Reason (another sailboat) carry a cargo of skills (mathematical problem solving) from the land of Math to the land of Natural Science. The boat, Sense Perception (we suggest), carries graphing skills from Art to Natural Science.

We have some refining to do, but we think our first real world test of our model does helps us appreciate the complex relationship between the elements of Theory of Knowledge and avoid the trap of thinking we can really talk about areas of knowledge and ways of knowing in isolation. Our next test will be to observe and map a different kind of class, a history or literature class, for example, to see if knowledge works differently in the humanities and to further test our map.

My own hunch is that our map will help also TOK students find powerful illustrations of the structure of knowledge in everyday activities instead of having to move to contentious and controversial issues which too frequently draw people away from the essence of the course.

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    […] #tokrew11 students have been playing with their map of knowledge, an original metaphor they created to test the validity of the International Baccalaureate Organization’s claim that we can […]

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