science history arts ethics mathematics essay and presentation teachers logics sense perception emotion language

The following episodes relate to the 'Areas of Knowledge' Category

Linking Arts, Math, Perception and Emotions

Here are 2 videos which link arts, math, sense perception and emotions. Watch them! They are very good, easily understndable and motivating!

Ifound two videos which illustrate the importance of emotions and perception in understanding statistics. In the first video, the speaker Hans Rosling uses animated graphs to visualize the development of different countries. It is a powerful illustration on how a visual representation (sense perception!) of numbers in the form of colorful dots greatly helps in understanding statistics. Tables with numbers alone are too difficult to perceive. Rosling’s computer program makes these numbers accessible.

The second video is quite remarkable as well. It links the areas of knowledge arts, statistics (math), with the ways of knowing sense perception and emotions. The photographer Chris Jordan wants to create impact by visualizing very large numbers and thus causing emotional involvement. We people often do not want to act to improve our environment, for example, becasue the numbers and statistics that we have available are simply to abstract and too large. What does it mean, when we say that we use millions of paper cups every day? How much is a million? Is this a lot? How much is a lot? Chris Jordan’s artwork helps us in perceiving these numbers, this way causing emotional involvement and creating an incentive to act.

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Ethics Video on Utilitarianism and Categorical Imperative

Red Books
I found the following video, which I would like to recommend as an introduction into Ethics. It is from Harvard University, the lecturer is Michael Sandel. The lecture covers Utilitarianism and the Categorical Imperative and is very understandable. The lecture is very interactive and engaging (both for the audience and for the person viewing the video). The video addresses the classical ethical dilemma of a trolley which is about to crash into a group of 5 people. Would you steer the trolley to a side track on which there is only one person standing?

The complete series contains 12 videos, each one about 1 hour long. Here is a link to the series on youtube.
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Excellent TOK Videos (German)

Here is a recommendation of several 15 minute videos (in German) with direct TOK relevancy.

I would like to recommend the following videos for the TOK course. They are in German, and if you happen to understand this language, then I think you should watch them, because they directly address TOK topics, especially relating to the Area of Knowledge Science.

The videos (each one 15 min. long) can be seen online, but it is not possible to download them. You may need to install RealPlayer. The show alpha-Centauri was produced by the Bayrischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting) and was also aired on television. The host of the show, Prof. Harald Lesch, is an Astrophysicist and Philosopher and works at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU). Continue reading »

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Reflections on a TOK Presentation that made me think

Old castle
A few days ago one of my students had her TOK presentation which sparked a thoughtful classroom discussion that filled nearly two periods. For me, as a TOK teacher, both the presentation and the follow-up discussion were a great enjoyment: both reflected the “TOK spirit” of a balanced insightful exploration of the topic.

It’s TOK presentation time. And this presentation started a thoughtful discussion in the classroom. The presentation analyzed different ethical approaches relating to the controversial Body Worlds Exhibition. There are several Youtube Videos online if you want to inform yourself a bit more (search for “Body Worlds”). As a matter of fact, I do recommend you to have a look at the exhibition’s Web site so that you know what I’m talking about. The exhibition shows preserved real human bodies, presented in an artistic way to the public. The corpses are “plastinated”. In this process the body liquids and fats are replaced by plastic. This is a way of preserving the body, and it is important to understand that they do not show plastic models. The specimens are displayed in a way that makes them appear very alive, engaged in various activities, such as sports. Continue reading »

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Linking Questions: History and Ways of Knowing

In this post I’d like to present a list of questions linking History with the different Ways of Knowing for classroom discussion.

Linking the different Areas of Knowledge (AOK) with different Ways of Knowing (WOK) can be quite challenging at times. I now attempted to link History with Language, Logics, Emotion and Sense Perception.

History and Language:

  • Does the way (the language) that certain historical events are presented in history books influence the way that the reader understands these events?
  • What role does loaded language play when talking about historical events?
  • What role do connotation and denotation play when talking about historical events?
  • How can language introduce bias into historical accounts?
  • How does language help or hinder the interpretation of historical facts?

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Of Science, Math and Beauty

Colorful Houses
In this post I’m pondering on the relationship between math and beauty. Can math be beautiful as well? And what is beauty in the first place?

I recently read an article about the mathematics of beauty. Researchers found out that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, and that beauty can indeed be quantified. If you want to read the article, here is a link.

Now, if it is possible to describe what beauty is using mathematical formulas, maybe it is also possible to look at the issue the other way around. Can math itself be considered beautiful or ugly? I did find an answer to this question by the English mathematician G. H. Hardy (1877-1947):
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What is Logical Positivism?

Office Windows
Logical Positivism was one of the most important schools of philosophy of science in the beginning 20th century. The “Vienna Circle”, a group of scientists, mathematicians and philosophers, contributed greatly in promoting this philosophical view.

When I was younger, in my teens, I started to discover my love for the sciences. I was fascinated by Biology and Physics and I think I must have driven my teachers crazy with my constant request for “proofs” and evidence. I liked science so much that I even included chemical formulas in my literature essays. Instead of saying “The water waves are gently moving in the sunset.” I’d write “Waves made of H2O are gently moving in the solar spectrum.” My English teacher then responded, “Don’t forget about the H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) which is dissolved as well!”. An then I didn’t feel as bad about the bad mark on the test anymore… Now I am teacher myself and occasionally I meet some students who remind me very much of myself. They are constantly confronting me with the words “How do you know that?” – always eager for empirical, scientific evidence. They want to see things before they believe it. They want formulas. They want cause and effect relationships. Without having been aware of it, I myself as well as my students, were followers of a certain philosophical school. We were “Positivists”. Continue reading »

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How can Math be Right and Wrong at the Same Time?


A hot air balloon
To what extent does math reflect the real world? Some mathematical equations deliver results that have no connection to reality. This episode applies the correspondence and coherence theory of truth to the area of mathematics.

Originally I wanted to call this episode “Does Math Reflect Reality?” or “The Limits of Math” but then I decided on the title “How Math can be Right and Wrong at the Same Time” – it sounds more, how shall I say… captivating.

And yes, I’m going to start off with a little mathematical task to illustrate that mathematical solutions do not always correspond to reality. Let’s start off simple. Certainly you remember the Pythagorean Theorem. If the length of two sides of a right triangle are known, then it’s easy to calculate the third side: a²+b²=c². I’m going to show you now an example using this formula.

Lets use some simple values to make calculation easy. If the lengths of the two legs of the right triangle a and b have the values 3 and 4 (a=3 and b=4), what is the length of the hypotenuse c? Continue reading »

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What is the Age of Enlightenment?


Enlightenment is the courage to use your own brain. Sapre Aude! Dare to Know!

Enlightenment is the courage to use your own brain. It is the courage to think on your own.

  • What do you do if you want to make your lifestyle healthier? You talk to a doctor. He or she will advise you on what food to eat.
  • You have a financial issue? You talk to the bank. They will advise you how to invest your money.
  • Or maybe you have an emotional problem? Go to a psychologist! He/she will fix it.
  • You have problems making a moral or ethical decision? You talk to a religious authority or a philosopher.
  • You have problems settling a disagreement with somebody? What do you do? You talk to a lawyer, of course.
  • You don’t know what to study at university? You ask your parents or your friends. They know it better.
  • You don’t know the answer to question on an exam? You have look at what the person sitting next to you is writing.

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Of Arts and Ethics


Wooden wheel
I’ll be exploring the relationship between arts and ethics. Is it necessary for art to go against moral and ethical conventions in order to be considered “good” art? Where are the limits to the freedom of expression of art? In this episode I’ll be asking questions, and not give answers!

In this episode, I’ll be exploring the relationship between arts and ethics. Some time ago, I read an interesting news report, one which links the two areas of knowledge Arts and Ethics. It’s about an unusual art exhibition. The artist placed 10 kitchen blenders on a long table. The blenders have sharp rotating knives and are normally used to smash vegetables or fruit. But in this case, each one of the blenders contained a live little gold fish swimming in some water. The visitors of the museum now had the choice of turning on the blenders – or not. The visitor, essentially, became the “rulers of the decision on life and death”, too use the words of the artist. According to news reports, some visitors indeed turned on the blenders, killing the fish, making fish soup. Animal rights activists complained, of course, and the police started to get involved as well.

When I first read about this art exhibition, I had to ask myself several questions.

  • Must art provoke? Is it necessary for good art to provoke emotions and a discussion?
  • Continue reading »

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An amazing thing, the human brain. Capable of understanding incredibly complex and intricate concepts. Yet at times unable to recognize the obvious and simple.

- Jay Abraham -
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