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IB teachers - theory of knowledge - advice please

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by ann5an, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    If your students are doing presentations with these titles then I hope you are marking them down. The ToK presentation has to be rooted in a real life issue, with the knowledge issues extracted from this. To me the presentation titles - unless they are refering to something concrete - sound rather vague and contrived.
  2. Yes, they were marked down. Both titles were linked to 'real life situations' by the way but the way they developed their argument was very weak. I have the sneaking suspicion that TOK is taught very badly in some schools.
  3. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    I would argue that it isn't philosophy but it is partly philosophical.
  4. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    There are many philistines with master's degrees. It's no shibboleth. I have one myself.
    'The Dude is ironic.
    Irony = sarcasm.
    So the Dude is sarcastic.'
  5. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Well, it's not, but at least that is a big improvement on 'balls-clocks' which is what it was for mamboman just the other day.
    And now you are contributing properly, mamboman, which is welcome - as when the Year 8 boy makes a silly noise in class, looks around for applause, realises that his peers don't think he's funny, and sensibly decides to join in and work productively.
    I hope I'm ironic and not sarcastic, for I loathe sarcasm and believe it has no place in civilised discourse. However the line is sometimes a fine one, and as a very young man I am bound to stray from the straight-n-narrer occasionally.
    As far as I can see, the excellent lady who teaches Philosophy to a small group of enthusiasts in our IB, is doing something significantly different from what she gets up to when she joins our stellar ToK team of six (no fewer than three of them with a Master's, the lucky/clever things).
    I do not have the auuthority and wide-ranging first hand experience which enables mamboman to declare that ToK is badly taught at many schools.
    I would say (again) that it is taught in many different ways (so far so good) but the presentations are assessed according to the culture of each school and without proper control or moderation from the IBO.
    We would not 'mark down' candidates who wanted to present 'Is History bunk?' as a topic, we simply wouldn't let them get that far - they are carefully apprised of what a presentation should be, and therefore run no risk of appearing on stage with such dud lines to speak.
    As for the essays, the IBO send them out to a disparate crew of examniers who range from the thin-lipped Wittgenstein fanatic in the steel-rimmed spectacles through to the unhygienic recycled Sociologist who needs the money for his ganja habit.
    It's been this way for years. At an IB love-in hosted by the quaint city of Quito, back in the early nineties, the following exchange involved an Irascible Welshman who was an IBO mandarin at the time, and a Brash Headmaster from the Southern Cone:
    BH: Yet again, my staff and I are dismayed by this year's ToK grades. We had a large and varied cohort and had predicted several As, plenty of Bs, a scattering of Cs and some Ds for the dismal. You guys just gave everyone a B.
    IW: ToK essays are scrupulously marked and moderated. I suggest your teachers need to look at their own practice.
    BH: And I suggest that your people are simply rubber-stamping my students' work.
    IW: Rubber stampin' ? RRRUBBER SSSTAMPIN' ?! [​IMG] You can't say that! You've no right to speak to me like that!
    BH: Yes I have, I pay your wages.
    IW left the IBO to become a head teacher and as far as I know continues as such. Perhaps he, too, will now be growling with frustration as one year the ToK grades of his students are finely differentiated, then the next year every Tom, Dick and Ali gets a B.
  6. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    I vaguely remember hearing that when the diploma was first being devised the French representatives insisted upon a compulsory Philosophy component, but the Brits objected to this silly wishy washy Gallic nonsense, and the ToK was born as a resulting compromise.

    This may well be a load of <strike>ball-***</strike>, <strike>bull hooks</strike>, <strike>cup hooks</strike>, <strike>springboks</strike>, cobblers
  7. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Ian I have also heard stories of the Homeric period of the IB, when our legendary founding fathers were forging their majestic contribution to Western Intellectual Hegemony.
    Yes, the idea was to marry the best of the French Bac with the best of British models. After all, Geneva was the seed-bed, and there was hope in that bright dawn that the IB would take off like a bush fire in France and its cultural fiefdoms. It didn't: it was the Old Spanish Empire and Uncle Sam's leafy suburbs that got conquered - not Napoleon's territories. Burned in the past by Calvin, the French were not going to have any truck with another evangelistic movement out of Geneva.
    Wha'everrr... the version I heard is a bit easier on the Brits: far from deriding Philosophy as Gallic nonsense, they held it in awed esteem, as a subject far too brainy for all but the most brilliant sixth-formers, and best left until University, and not every University at that. Pretty much mamboman's stance, it seems.
    On the other hand, the Francophones maintained that no eighteen-year-old should be awarded anything as distingu&eacute; as a Baccalaureate unless s/he could memorise the principal notions of the Champions League philosophers from Plato to Sartre, as delivered ex cathedra by their profs and duly delivered back in written examinations.
    The forced marriage took place, and ToK is its complicated offspring.
  8. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    (You've made my day now! it seems like this is becoming a habit...,is this what you want!)
  9. Oh dear...
  10. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    ah, but if it's elegant sarcasm then all is forgiven..
  11. Nezelette

    Nezelette New commenter

    I like teaching TOK. The kids at my school LOVE it. It's often their favourite lesson of the week (whether they have me as a teacher or not. I'm not trying to blow my own trumpet here!)
    And I do think it is philosophy, or at least an attempt at a popularised from of epistemology. That's probably the reason why Mamboman has a problem with it. I know quite a few philosophers who have a problem with TOK, and I can understand that to a large extent. It's not quite rigourous enough to be good philosophy and the way it's assessed is frankly ludicrous. The mentality amongst some senior TOK examiners seems to be: "We don't want to accept this is philosophy as it would 1) force us to admit that students who take IB Philosophy have a ridiculous advantage when dealing with TOK and 2) force us to learn a bit more about philosophy, when we don't know much about it. Nonetheless, we want our subject to seem very serious and difficult, so we will make sure a stupidly low number of students actually get an A. We will play hard to get to pretend we are better than we really are".
    Having said that, popularised, quick and messy philosophy is MUCH better than no philosophy at all. It can be an absolute revelation for kids and some of my TOK students who had not chosen to take IB Philosophy are now applying to read philosophy at uni thanks to TOK. For students to have to think about the way they acquire knowledge should definitely be a compulsory part of any worthwhile course, in my opinion.
  12. Nezelette

    Nezelette New commenter

    ...a popularised form of epistemology...
  13. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Just so. Few ToK teachers would disagree.
    Great, good for you and your colleagues. That's how it should be.
    A proof that you and your team-mates are doing the job properly. If this happens every year, then who cares about John Examiner and his silly playing-hard-to-get?
    Yes. Our friends teaching the other subjects could support us ToK practitioners by recognising this more frequently and practically. If they hear 'Big Philosophy' teachers like mambo crying, "boolooks" from the sidelines they'll be less inclined to do so.
    Not sure. I've seen good ToK lessons derailed by the member of the class who is wrestling with Descartes or Hobbes in the Ph. class and wants to import the strugggle to the ToK session when we are trying to engage something quite different.
    moi aussi, more and more.
  14. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    ToK was also something of a hit in the three IB schools where I taught. That may have been because none of us had a Master's in Philosophy but I prefer to think it was due to our innovative and experimental approach to teaching. As the great Oliver put it 'No man rises so high as he that knows not whither he goeth' (which also a useful put-down for those irritating people who ask you at interview where you see yourself being in five years' time).
  15. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    I have had a smashing time teaching ToK, admitedly I am only just seeing off my first cohort.

    Chatting to others within my school, it does seem that a lot depends upon how much your students are 'up for it'...I had a great bunch that included 6 different nationalities and 4 different religions, but no tensions or animosity, just some very lively debates.)

    Oh dear, I am already refering to them in the past tense... (Bring on the next grade...)

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