Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Theory of Knowledge

If someone claims that both the division of knowledge into disciplines and the division of the world into countries on a map are artificial, what does this mean? What is the nature of the boundaries between Areas of Knowledge, in your view?

In my country’s education system, secondary school classroom hours are commonly divided into subjects such as English Language, Modern Mathematics, Biology, Moral Studies and History.

In fact, I believe many schools practise this system. . .

Yet, there may be persons who claim that such division of knowledge into disciplines and the division of the world into countries on a map are artificial.

. . . There are adequate arguments supporting either case, and in my opinion, it eventually becomes a matter of personal judgment.

. . . If I were the head engineer of a team responsible to build a spacecraft, my compartmentalised knowledge would probably do me no good on its own.

I would need to put my knowledge of physics to work, integrate it with my artistic sense for the aircraft’s design and at the same time communicate with my team members synergistically for the work to proceed, all without consciously realising that I have utilised knowledge from the natural sciences, arts and human sciences in the process.

© IBO 2007.

Now what on earth is Theory of Knowledge (ToK), you might ask? Good question.
Briefly speaking, it is a "Theory about Knowledge" (epistemology).
Reading the above excerpt might give you some hints on what is covered within ToK.
ToK includes learning about the Knower (persons), Ways of Knowing and Areas of Knowledge, among other things.

I'd like to quote Howard Gardner (Harvard psychology professor) who mentioned the "Disciplined Mind" as one of the "Five Minds for the 21st century". "Disciplined mind" meaning two things: literally (being disciplined), as well as understanding how different disciplines involve different approaches in learning.
ToK is like an outside view of things; it's like seeing a picture of our whole solar system with all the planets and satellites and comets. Each subject (the "hard" stuff) is like a study on each planet/comet/etc, and it is quite a restricted view. ToK gives a bird's eye-view and binds the whole thing together.
Now, you might not agree. But that's exactly what ToK aims to develop: a sense of awareness (of knowledge issues) and logical reasoning.

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