TOK: Area of Knowledge Art


Do we need to know the context in which an artwork was produced in order to claim that we have knowledge of the artwork?

Every art is created with a purpose and is affected by historical and cultural context, so if you understand an artwork’s background it will of course give us a better insight and understanding with in the artwork, because artworks are base on the artist’s cultural context. But on the other hand, they are also base on the audiences’ cultural context, different audiences can gain different knowledge of the artwork. So I think without knowing the context of the artwork, we can also gain knowledge from the artwork.

Firstly, we can gain knowledge from the elements in art, for example like the colors, lines, style, and form. By looking at its color we can know the emotion that the artist is trying to deliver, like cool colors usually give us a sad feeling and warm colors usually give us a cheerful feeling. Other examples like black usually give a depressing feeling and red usually symbolize love. By looking at its use of line and pattern we can gain knowledge about the artwork too. For example some aboriginal culture have their unique style of patter, so just by looking at the pattern of the artwork we can know where the artwork come from. There are many forms of art, such as 2-D forms and 3-D forms, and form can give you the knowledge about the time period. Because some form of art only exist in a certain time period and some forms only come out in the 20th century. By recognizing the artwork’s art style, we can know which movement it belongs to.

Secondly, we can gain knowledge through the imagination and creativity of the artworks. There are many possibility in art because it doesn’t have to make sense or to be real. So artist can just use their imagination and creativity to create any art they want, because anything can be art. As an audience, we also need to use imagination to truly appreciate the art sometimes. In this case, we can just use our imagination to interpret the art. Because honestly for some artwork, no one except the artist can truly understand it, especially some of the contemporary and abstract modern arts.

Lastly, we can gain personal knowledge. I think the point of artist presenting their artworks is to let the audience think about their meanings and what the artist is trying to deliver and come out with their own way of interpreting them and that will become your personal knowledge. Some people even use intuition to gain knowledge in art, sometimes when you look at an art you just immediately get the meaning.

Therefore I think even without knowing the content of the artwork, we can still gain knowledge about its context through the elements the artist used in their artworks. Although we might not fully understand the artwork, I think we can still claim that we have knowledge of the artwork.

TOK: Ways of Knowing in a novel


During my english class I had been reading this creative non-fiction called I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which is written by Maya Angelou. This is a coming of age novel and is mainly talking about author’s childhood of living in South America during the 1930s and 1940s. Thought out this novel there are severals Ways of Knowing.

I think one of the major Ways of Knowing in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is memory. Because this is a story of Maya’s childhood so there whole book is a memory for her. Although it is written out as a novel, it’s still a personal memory of Maya. But our memory can be unreliable and we forget things easily, not to mention Maya wrote this novel 20 years after the events. So this mean that is possible that what Maya wrote in the book might not be 100% accurate. But it’s okay because this is not just a memoir, it’s an autobiographical fiction. The difference is that memoir is just writing about exactly what happened while autobiographical fiction is “based on a true story” but with some changes. So it doesn’t matter if Maya add or change things in her novel.

Another major Ways of Knowing in this novel is emotion. Because it is an autobiographical fiction so it contains a lot of Maya’s personal emotions. The whole book is very emotional, not just for the author , but also for the readers. Because Maya is very good at describing her feeling as a child so it can provoke our emotion easily. Because all the event happening in this book is striking and astonishing, so it can also bring out readers’ feeling. For example the event of getting raped by her mother’s boyfriend or the event of getting pregnant at the age of 16. All those events are very emotional towards both the author and the readers.

Language, I think is also a Ways of Knowing in this novel. Firstly, Maya have to write this book in a child point of view, so she have to use the language carefully in order to sound like a child. Secondly, after the big event Maya had stopped speaking for 2 years, this is also a tremendous event of her life. Language is use to express our idea and thought, so not speaking for two years meaning that Maya don’t want to express her feeling to the others that also means that she don’t trust anyone. Luckily, later on in the novel Mrs Bertha Flowers helped Maya to over come her silence by telling her to read all the books that she give her out loud. This is also why Maya loves language and literature so much, because it brings back her voice.

From here we can see that the novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings involve many different Ways of Knowing.

TOK: Language as a way of knowing


I used to think that language is just what we speak, what we hear, what we read, what we write and also a way to communicate, to share our thoughts and that’s all. I know that with language we can express our idea and interact with each other and without language it will defiantly be harder to exchange our knowledge. But those are the only things I know about language.

So after I read this chapter about language I found out that language is actually a form of behavior, and the language that we are using is symbolic communication. I also learned that not like other animals on this planet, we used sign language. So this is a point I never thought about before because I always seen language as words like English, Chinese, Japanese, etc. But actually it can also include gestures, movements, facial expressions and body reactions. And I used to thought that without oral language there is no way that we can communicate, but by doing the “no talking” activity in class, I notice that oral language is just making our communication easier, and we can still communicate without oral language. Another thing I learned was the diverse of the languages in our world. How a language can be different from another and the different ways people communicate, and because of this language can be misunderstood and useless.

So after finish reading the chapter in the book, I know the importance of language as a way of knowing, its influence and also how it is been used between different people.

TOK: Memory


Knowledge Question: To what extend should memory be trusted when one studies primary sources

Memory is a ways of knowing and we all had autobiographies or personal diaries as our primary sources before, but to what extend shout it be trusted? From one perspective, memory was an excellent source, because it provides firsthand information and experience on the event. Some people even said that all knowledge are memory.

But from the real life situation provided by Elizabeth Loftus’s speech, a man named Steve Titus was convicted on someone’s false memory. From this case we can see that our memory cannot always be trusted, we tend to forget things, misremember things and change things that are in our memory. Just like what Avishar Margalit said: “Memory is knowledge from the past. It is not necessary knowledge about the past.” Our memory don’t work as a video camera, it is reconstructive, and it changes all the times. It changes because of the new knowledge, because of what other people told you, because of your change of perspective; it changes because of a lot of things. Like the victim in the real life situation, at first she wasn’t really sure if Titus was the raper, but when Titus was put on trial for rape and everybody thought that he is the man, the victim got confident. She went from not really sure to absolutely sure that Titus was the raper, and this change in memory was because of the approval by the public. Of course, that does not mean all of our memory are false and should not be trusted. Although our memory can be reconstructed it’s still base on something real. So we can use memory as a primary source, we just need to consider it’s limitations.


Language and Gender


What are the strengths and limitation of Baxter’s experiment?

After reading the extract from The Myth of Mars and Venus: Do Men and Woman Really Speak Different Languages? I found Baxter’s experiment very interesting. His experiment shows the linguistic behavior difference between boys and girls. Although his experiment has some strengths and values, there are also some limitations.

Researcher Judith Baxter made experiment among 14 to 15 year old school pupils. They have been told to imagine that they are survivors of a plane crash in the desert, equipped with various items scavenged from the wreckage, such as sunglasses, compass and first aid kit, and their task is to rank the items in order of importance for survival. They are separated into single-sex groups to do tasks and their conversations and discussion were recorded by Baxter.

The strength of the experiment is it shows the different ways of discussing between girls and boys. The experiment gives them a real life situation that doesn’t have a correct answer so that they can discuss more. It also shows that it is not easy to know whether girls are more competitive than boys or the opposite interpretation is require explaining linguistic behavior, because just by looking at the conversation, I cannot determine which group is girl and which is boy. But we can see that the two groups discuss very differently.

There are some limitations in this experiment. One of the limitations is the age of the students, because people talks differently at different ages. If this experiment is taking among the younger kids, their ways of talking can be more competitive, because kids are more aggressive. On the other hand, if it’s among adults or older kids, their conversation can be more cooperative because they can control their emotion more and they know how to collaborate with the others. Another limitation is the different personally between the students. Some students can be more competitive, some can be more cooperative, so that can also determine the way the conversation goes.

TOK: Interaction of WOKs


Intuition vs. Emotion

Real Life Situation: It’s late at night, when you are walking on the road, you feel like someone is following you and you start running.

This might happens to many people before if you are walking outside at night. Suddenly you just somehow know that something dangerous is going happen and that feeling makes you have an increasing rapid heartbeat, you feel yourself sweating and shivering or even have a rush of adrenaline, and you just want to start running. This is because your intuition told you that someone is following you and that triggers your emotion of fear.

It doesn’t matter whether your intuition is right or wrong, your environment and situation gives you this intuition. Because of your observation of the darkness and quietness around you, it gives you the feeling of someone is following you. In this situation, the emotion of fear prompts you to start running because if there is really someone that’s following you, the best solution is to run to some where that’s safe.

TOK: Seeking Truth


Does it matter if what we believe is true? Is there any harm in believing knowledge claims that are false?

People all have different perspective and their own understanding to the situation or the problem which makes each knowledge claim unique among the others. So some knowledge claims are not wrong, it is just you have a different opinion toward this statement.  Sometime it is because of the person wasn’t informed with the correct information, which makes him or her to make false knowledge claims. The reasons why people believe in false knowledge claims are it might comes from a person you trust or it is something that you wants to hear about. Sometimes they will even persuade you to believe that their claims are right like propaganda or advertisements.

Personally, I think of course it is important that the knowledge we gain and what we believe is true, but in some cases it doesn’t matter that much. I think the importance of knowledge claims being true of false depends on what types of claim is it. If it is a knowledge claim on our learning then of course it is important that whether we gained the right information or not. If it is a claim that you would like to believe in that it is true and there is no impact on the others too, then I think it doesn’t matter if it’s false or not.  I think If it is just a personal believe and it does not affect the others, it is harmless. But if the knowledge claim is a lie and its on purpose to hide something or to trick someone, it is most likely to be harmful.

In what ways does the IB encourage experiential learning?


Of course, experiential learning is very important in IB courses. Instead of just memorizes all the facts and information, we can learn by practicing and doing exercises more. Through our experience of solving problems and finding solution, we become more familiar with the methods of how to do it and also we are more confident to use the concepts and skills. For example math is a subject that we need a lot of practice of. Our experience of practicing solving questions stay in our brain so we know how to do it next time.

In CAS program, we are required to take on experiences of quality for our own growth. As an IB student, I came up with an idea doing an environmental program to bring up awareness of our environment. I found out that all of the students that are doing CAS are learning through doing things and having experience. In my CAS program I also tried something new like doing student council and this extended my capacity in leadership.

I think many of the experiential knowledge that I gained are to some extend shared knowledge. Experiences like collaborating or doing group works I think are shared knowledge because I don’t learn as an individual but as a whole. As we are working together I gain shared knowledge from sharing opinion and also gain experiential knowledge on how to work collaboratively.

TOK: Experiential Knowledge


Experiential knowledge is knowledge that you gain from your own experience before.

I think almost everything we do in our life is an experience and that everything we learn from doing things is experiential knowledge. Of course there are also some knowledge like the math formulas are knowledge we gain from the teachers. But as we keep doing and practicing those questions, those become our experiential knowledge.  I think areas like living skills, social skills and sports are mostly experiential knowledge, because those skills and knowledge we need to physically do it and experience it ourselves in order to do it well.

I think people don’t always learn from their experiences. For example all of us had lost our personal item before but we never learn from it, even adults lose things all the time. After our experience, we are still forgetful and not careful enough. Another example is we all know that the food just been cook are usually hot, we still eat it straight away every single time. Because we forgot our experience every time, we don’t learn from it.

If I am looking for someone to help me with something, I’ll trend to find someone who I know that have experience solving this problem, and this is because I believe that those people’s experiential knowledge can be very helpful. Or, I will go to ask people who are also solving the same questions, because they are in the same situation and they are also struggling with the questions, so they would have the empathy to help me with the questions. That’s why when we have problem we trend to ask the teachers or the students in the same class because the teacher have the experience doing those problems and the students have the empathy because we are learning the same things.

I had look for experience for specific knowledge that I can gain. A good example is choosing which class to take, I know Math class can give you skill on calculation and solving problems, English class can teach you skill on reading and writing, since I already have an idea in advance about what kinds of knowledge I can gain from what class, I can choose the classes that it’s beneficial for me like art class if I want to be a designer.

Job applications ask for past job experiences because the companies want talented, hard-working people with a large amount of previous experience in order for their companies to grow and develop. Compare to people with absolutely no experience, the company will more likely to choose people who have experience and done this job before. Because people with more experiential knowledge can do it better, even though it might be a different job experience when people are seeking for a new job, since they already have job experiences they have the communicating skill, collaborating skill, and many other skills and this is why the company wants.

TOK: Personal Perspective


We all have our own personal perspective that’s shaped by our culture, our surrounding, the influence from the others and all of the knowledge that we gained. This week in class we discussed about the different culture perspective. People from different countries, which have different cultures, can have different perspective including things like table manners and the way of talking.

But of course culture is not the only thing that affects our perspective. For example, I am 16 years old girl, and my age and my gender affect how I view the world. The perspective of a boy is very different from the perspective of the girl. A boy might be more interested in sports, cars and gaming while a girl will probably more likely to be interested in clothes, shopping and arty things. Same as the age, as we grow up, we gain more knowledge which can change our perspective. A child might view the world in a much simpler way while adults view the world in a much complicated way. Another example is our environment. I grew up in China so my mother tongue is Chinese but I am actually an American. My dad is from Taiwan and my mother is from Malaysia. Because the cultures in those four countries are so different, I need to get use to every culture and get familiar with those languages. And this makes my viewing of the world wider and makes my perspective more diverse from others.

So my perspective is affected and influence by many different factors such as age, gender, language, environment, and culture.