May 2015 Essay Titles

1. There is no such thing as a neutral question. Evaluate this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.
Key terms: neutral question, evaluate, two areas of knowledge
Suitable AOKs/WOKs: Literature (Language) Mathematics (Reason)
Potential problems: What is a ‘neutral question’? Is it a question that does not add weight to any side? Or…
=> Maybe, since after the concept of ‘neutral question’ is well-defined, the rest of it would not be too complicated.

2. “There are only two ways in which humankind can produce knowledge: through passive observation or through active experiment.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
Key terms: produce knowledge, passive observation, active experiment, to what extent
Suitable AOKs/WOKs: Natural Science (Biology) Music, sense perception, emotion and reasoning
Potential problems: What is the standard separating ‘passive observation’ and ‘active experiment’?
=> Maybe, since after I formulate an appropriate standard dividing those two, the rest won’t be too difficult.

3. “There is no reason why we cannot link facts and theories across disciplines and create a common groundwork of explanation.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
Key terms: facts, theories, across disciplines, create a common groundwork of explanation, to what extent
Suitable AOKs/WOKs: Religion, Art, Emotion
Potential problems: This question itself is hard to fully understand. Too many concepts to define.
=> No, since it must be very difficult to deal with that many concepts; too complicated.

4. With reference to two areas of knowledge discuss the way in which shared knowledge can shape personal knowledge.
Key terms: two areas of knowledge, discuss, shared knowledge, shape, personal knowledge
Suitable AOKs/WOKs: Literature and History
Potential problems: Some researches required for general background knowledge for the areas of knowledge. Or can I propose my personal case?
=> Maybe, if I could find some suitable background information to apply into this case.

5. “Ways of knowing are a check on our instinctive judgments.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
Key terms: Ways of knowing, a check, instinctive judgments, to what extent
Suitable AOKs/WOKs: Should I cover all of the WOKs?
Potential problems: Just like question 3, the question itself is hard to fully understand. Too many WOKs to discuss.
=> No, it’s just too broad.

6. “The whole point of knowledge is to produce both meaning and purpose in our personal lives.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
Key terms: whole point of knowledge, produce, meaning and purpose, personal lives
Suitable AOKs/WOKs: Religion and Psychology, Emotion and Reason
Potential problems: Knowledge that produces meaning and purpose in someone’s life could be considered in a different perspective, since that ‘meaning and purpose’ in life depend on individuals.
=> No, my answer to this question would be over-personalized.

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May 2015 Essay Titles — At First Glance

1. There is no such thing as a neutral question. Evaluate this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.

- The keyword here is ‘neutral question’, which means that the question is unbiased and does not take any of the sides of the issue.

- Knowledge Questions: How can we know when a question is neutral? What different variants of knowledge can be found within a neutral question? Is any knowledge lost due to the neutrality of the question?

- Possible AOKs: Mathematics. I feel that in Maths, all questions are or should be neutral. It would be interesting to explore whether that truly is the case, then the statement in the question would be contradicted.

English Literature. In my opinion, all questions in English Literature should be asked in a neutral manner as to be open to interpretation.

- Would I choose this question? Although this question seems rather interesting to explore, I feel that, by simply looking at the surface of it for this post, I was already brought to dead-ends. It seems to be that it is too broad, and will only lead into traps.

2. “There are only two ways in which humankind can produce knowledge: through passive observation or through active experiment.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?

- The keywords here are ‘passive observation’ and ‘active experiment’. I would need to first state whether there are other ways of producing knowledge, and, if yes, thoroughly differentiate them from one another.

- Knowledge Questions: How can we determine the source of our knowledge? And where does that knowledge then come from? Which form of knowledge is more important — the knowledge gained from passive observation or active experiment?

- Possible AOKs:I feel that in the Sciences, especially Chemistry, certain forms of knowledge can only be gained through active experiments. This can also be looked at in the AOK of Mathematics, where it is one thing to learn the formula (passive observation) but it is another to know how to apply it (active experiment).

- Would I choose this question? This question does seem very demanding, and if I were to potentially choose it, it would require a lot of my time and thinking. I am caught in the middle, it’s a possible yes.

3. “There is no reason why we cannot link facts and theories across disciplines and create a common groundwork of explanation.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?

- The key terms are ‘facts’, ‘theories’, ‘link’, ‘common groundwork of explanation’. What I understand from this question is that I would need to investigate whether the facts and theories of different AOKs can overlap and link in order to better explain a question at hand.

- Knowledge Questions: To what extent can linking facts and theories across disciplines lead to more (or less) knowledge? How can we know when it is a good idea to link them?

- Possible AOKs: I could investigate how two completely different disciplines can overlap. This makes me think of an article I came across a while back where the mathematics behind the rhythm of Shakespeare’s works was explored.

- Would I choose this question? Possibly, yes. However, I would really need to focus on the actual links between the disciplines rather than only examples.

4. With reference to two areas of knowledge discuss the way in which shared knowledge can shape personal knowledge.

- The keywords are ‘shared knowledge’ and ‘personal knowledge’. However how SHARED knowledge shapes PERSONAL knowledge, not the other way around.

- Knowledge Questions: Which proportions of our knowledge is shared and which is personal? How can we best shape personal knowledge? How can we share personal knowledge so that it becomes shared? Can one gain personal knowledge from shared knowledge?

- Possible AOKs: Ethics and Literature.

- Would I choose this question? I don’t think I would because the concept of shared and personal knowledge within the AOKs confuses me a bit too much.

5. “Ways of knowing are a check on our instinctive judgments.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?

- The keywords in this question are ‘instinctive judgements’. The question is asking whether the WOKs (Reason, Emotion, Sense Perception and Language) are a ‘check’ or a justification of our intuition.

- Knowledge Questions: Are our instinctive judgements knowledge? Is anything that can be ‘checked’ with the WOKs directly classified as knowledge? Does this hinder or help us?

- Possible AOKs: I feel that English Literature would be the main one here. Our initial interpretation of a work could be arguably our ‘instinctive judgements’. Whether those are justified or not by the WOKs could be a possible way of exploring this question. I could then link it to real-life examples.

- Would I choose this question? This would probably not be my first choice, but could still potentially be in the first three.

6. “The whole point of knowledge is to produce both meaning and purpose in our personal lives.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?

- The keywords are ‘knowledge’, ‘produce’, ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’. It’s important to notice that the question specifies that the WHOLE point of knowledge is to produce meaning and purpose, hence there must be no other point (the other points of knowledge could be counter claims here).

- Knowledge Questions: How can we know the point of knowledge? Must knowledge have a point? People with mental illnesses such as depression, who believe their lives have no meaning and are purposeless (existential people as well), do they not have any knowledge then? (COUNTERPOINT)

- Possible AOKs: For somebody who will not pursue a scientific life yet still has to attend one IB Science subject, what is the point of that knowledge? The Sciences could be a possible AOKs, then again, this question is so broad and general, any would work.

- Would I choose this question? I actually prefer these types of abstract questions. However, I am just not sure the word limit will let me explore this question thoroughly.

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TOK Questions

  1. There is no such thing as a neutral question. Evaluate this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.
    1. What is a Neutral Question? Since we all interpret things differently can there ever be a question that is neutral? AOK: Scientific/Mathematical questions vs. Abstract questions e.g. Art
  2. “There are only two ways in which humankind can produce knowledge: through passive observation or through active experiment.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
    1. AOK: Art à History of Art (passive observation)/ Applied Art (active experiment). Then again, what about innate/instinctive knowledge?
  3. “There is no reason why we cannot link facts and theories across disciplines and create a common groundwork of explanation.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
    1. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. No.
  4. With reference to two areas of knowledge discuss the way in which shared knowledge can shape personal knowledge.
    1. AOK: Through creating art à learn about yourself. Through a thorough understanding of how our biology/psychology works à you could gain personal knowledge as to why you do the things you do. The question is more straight forward than the previous one.
  5. “Ways of knowing are a check on our instinctive judgments.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
    1. “are a check on..” à too vague..
  6. “The whole point of knowledge is to produce both meaning and purpose in our personal lives.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
    1. I sense a religious discussion, which may lead to getting lost in an argument about religion rather than TOK.


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2015 Prescribed Essay titles

  1. Neutral question refers to a question that does not include any opinion or stance of a person asking the question. We might ask “Who will you vote for the next president? Person A or person B?” But then, if the person is thinking of voting for a person A on the firsthand, the question is not neutral because the questioner might be expecting to hear a specific answer. This expectation might not be apparent or conscious. It might be a good idea to refer to science as a AOK.
  2. Well, if you consider math, knowledge does not come from passive nor active observation. It is isolated from the real world and only consists of logic built upon logic.
  3. Physics definitely answers to this question. Influence of physics actually extends from chemistry, biology, astronomy, geography, psychology and even music. Principle of wave is closely related to rhyme and frequency of notes. Quantum Electrodynamics (one of theories in physics) explains interaction between light and matter, hence it explains all natural phenomena (except for gravity and atomic nucleus), encompassing concepts learnt in Biology and Chemistry.
  4. Shared knowledge can be considered as a paradigm of that era. What we learn at school is the knowledge that confers to the contemporary paradigm. Therefore, whenever there is a paradigm shift, what we learn in school changes. In future, may be students will learn something different to now according to the paradigm of that era.
  5. I think this question is over generalized. Ways of knowing: sense perception, emotion, logic, language. Ways of knowing can be a source of instinctive judgment. When you are driving a car and see a person running into your car you (sense perception) you will step on the brake (instinctive judgment). Also, you can make educated guess and use other ways of knowing to check whether you are right or wrong.
  6. Knowledge does not have to fulfill the need or provide purpose of life. Some people yearn for knowledge for their sake of curiosity. Some knowledge is virtually irrelevant to answering purpose of life or those sort of questions. What does sum of sine squared and cosine squared equals to one have meaning for us? What does the fact that human body is composed of oxygen 65%, carbon 18%, hydrogen 10% and nitrogen 3% have meaning to us? Can we regard a mixture with same component of this, worth as much as human life?
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May 2015 Prescribed Essay Titles

1. There is no such thing as a neutral question. Evaluate this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.
– Key terms: neutral question, evaluate, two areas of knowledge
– Suitable AOK/WOK: English and Economics or Business Studies because neutral questions are used in questionnaires for customers.
– Potential difficulties: First knowing what a neutral question is; trying to find counter-examples to the statement; the wording of the question is less flexible than “to what extent do you agree..”
– Would I choose this question?: Yes, maybe. This question seems more straightforward because the scope of the essay is already defined.

2. “There are only two ways in which humankind can produce knowledge: through passive observation or through active experiment.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
– Key terms: produce knowledge, passive observation, through active experiment, to what extent do you agree.
– Suitable AOK/WOK: biology and art; sense perception, emotion, reason
– Potential difficulties: the assertion only reflects one side of the argument; is knowledge produced?
– Would I choose this question?: No, seems complicated.

3. “There is no reason why we cannot link facts and theories across disciplines and create a common groundwork of explanation.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
– Key terms: facts, theories, common groundwork of explanation, to what extent do you agree.
– Suitable AOK/WOK: biology, religion; reason
– Potential difficulties: it’s quite a complicated to understand and very broad; like question 2 it also only reflects one side of the argument; would also probably need an AOK like Ethics or religion
– Would I choose this question?: No, this question seems much more complicated than the other ones.

4. With reference to two areas of knowledge discuss the way in which shared knowledge can shape personal knowledge.
– Key terms: two areas of knowledge, discuss, shared knowledge, personal knowledge
– Suitable AOK/WOK: History and Biology
– Potential difficulties: would need to go back to the work done on TOK day in Year 12; probably lots of research involved;
– Would I choose this question?: Yes, maybe. The scope of the essay is already defined but the way the question is formulated still allows for some flexibility.

5. “Ways of knowing are a check on our instinctive judgments.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
– Key terms: ways of knowing, instinctive judgments, to what extent
– Suitable AOK/WOK: all the WOKs
– Potential difficulties: hard to understand; need to do research about this statement
– Would I choose this question?: No, this question also seems quite complicated.

6. “The whole point of knowledge is to produce both meaning and purpose in our personal lives.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
– Key terms: knowledge, meaning, purpose, personal lives
– Suitable AOK/WOK: Sense perception and emotion; History and Religion
– Potential difficulties: knowledge can have many purposes and meanings depending on each person; this question would probably involve talking about religion if different perspectives were to be used
– Would I choose this question?: No, this question seems complicated.

Overall, I would probably choose question 1 or 4.

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First Impressions of TOK

My first impressions of TOK is that it seems like a good class. The lessons that it teaches, like not accepting that everything anyone of importance says is true, can be used in real life situations. TOK seems like a great class to learn life lessons.

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Behaving So Strangely – Reflection

The issue raised in the podcast ‘Behaving So Strangely’ is interesting in many ways. First, the theory that there are more Chinese students with perfect pitch than non-Chinese students is due to learning the tones in Chinese is awe-strucking. This notion, which I have never heard of, may or may not be true, but the arguments made are quite holistic in analyzing the tones of the Chinese language.

For example, what most stood out from the podcast is how different tones in Chinese can change the intended meanings of words completely. One particular word, ‘ma’, is used in different contexts based upon the different tones used. ‘Ma’ in first tone means mother; ‘ma’ in third means horse; in fourth means reproach.

In addition, the study of the difference between the percentage of perfect pitch of Chinese music students and European music students are also striking. Surprisingly, 75% of Chinese music students have perfect pitch as opposed to only 15% of European music students. The theory suggested in the podcast is that it is a natural advantage of Chinese students to learn pitch intuitionally throughout learning the Chinese language; thus, tone is what accounts for the 3 out of 4 students in China who have perfect pitch.

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Reflection of “Dreaming in Chinese”

Increasing popularity of Chinese is commonly known nowadays. However, it is not easy and quit annoying to learn it.  I was impressed by the quote that adopting and learning different attiquete and styles is the interesting part of it. Additionally, as Korean,  I admire the Chinese citizens’ keeping their language and appreciate to their own language. I don’t have an idea that it is a drawback or advantage, Korean tends to adopt foreign words without doubt. I argue that Korean should think back our own precious language.

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The Bilingual Advantage

After reading the Article “The Bilingual Advantage” I came across a very important and beneficial to humanity. According to Ellen Bialystok there is a connection between being bilingual and stalling the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the article a study that was conducted showed that many people who were monolinguals were said to start suffering from Alzheimer’s at a much younger age then those who were bilingual.

This is a very interesting point because it shows a medical benefit to speaking more then one language and this could push schools and children to learning more then one language, not just so that they become more culturally knowledgeable but also so that more of the human population will live for much longer and have much better lives.

THis is one of the Interesting parts of the article and intrigued me a lot

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The Bilingual Advantage

I think it is really interesting how bilingualism helps a person’s cognitive function so much. Dr. Bialystok’s research shows how helpful knowing two languages can be outside of the fact of just being able to understand more people. It benefits a person if they have the disease Alzheimer’s in that they can function for a longer time and show fewer symptoms in the beginning than someone who has the disease and monolingual. It also aids people when multitasking, this is due to how bilingualism trains the executive control system of the brain so it is able to perform more than one task at a time more efficiently

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The bilingual advantage

I think it is interesting that Ellen Bialystok, in the interview “The bilingual advantage” explains how bilingual children have the ability to easier determine whether a sentence is grammatically correct or not. She tells us about an experiment where they asked both monolingual and bilingual children whether the sentence “Apples grow on noses” was grammatically correct or not. Apparently the monolingual children could only focus on the point that this was a ridiculous statement, while the bilingual children could determine that this sentence actually was correct formulated by focusing on what’s important.

This example helped me understand how language can be a way of knowing since it proves that language is not only a way to express ourselves but also something that will improve our ability to handle more than one tasks at a time or to sort out the important part of something. Based on this information I wonder whether being bilingual also could be a benefit when for example skim-reading something tho the purpose of that is to be able to jump over what is not considered important for the moment and focus on what you really need to find out.

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Behaving so strangely becuase of language?

The podcast ‘Behaving so strangely’ and other two articles,which are ‘Dreaming in Chinese’ and ‘The Biligual Advantages’. Podcast and articles discuss about whether languages can affect how people behave. All of this discussions were made in the form of interview. Neuroscientist and liguist have successfully anaylzed the efffects of language on diseases, daily life or even musical talent.

The most interesting subject for me was about high per centage of Chinese have perfect pitch. In the podcast ‘Behaving so Strangely’ the interviwer asserts that about 70% of Chinese have perfect pitch and this is because Chinese have four different melodical accents. The first accent has plain and constant pithc, the second accent with ascending pith, third is twisted and fourth is accented with descending pitch. Can these simple pith arrangements enable Chinese to have perfect pitch?

In my point of view Chinese certainly can have perfect pitch because of the accents with pitch. Some people think that perfect pitch is inhereted. That means if someone has perfect pithch, their parents will also have perfect pitch, but this isn’t true. As an example, I have a friend in dulwich who has perfect pitch. He is so musically talented. He is able to compose a song within a second, know what cords were played, and play well on piano and guitar. He has perfect pitch. However, their parents is an ordinary people. His brother is also talented in music. However, there is nothing musical to be inhereted from their family members. However, my friend and his brother started learning music when they were really young. About 5 years old, they strated to learn piano. This means that education of music for young children can have massive impact. Young children seem to assimilate the value and information so easily, music cannot be the exception.

Therefore, if Chinese children are exposed to the certain pitch when they are speaking, they can be trained. They are frequently exposed to different pitch and therefore they have better sense on differentiating the pitch. With some education can easily become ‘perfect pitched’.

As a conclusion, articles and podcast gave me a new idea on luanguages. Laguages seem to have great importance for culture and our behavior.

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Does your language shape how you think?

This essay, “Lost in Translation” is about an argument that does language affects the way people think or not. When Mr. Macknight asked me about my opinion of Lera Boroditsky’s idea, I couldn’t notice any difference of the way I think when I’m speaking in Chinese, Korean or English. However, after I finish reading this essay, I could realize the differences and how the language shapes my way of thinking. Additionally, from his essay, I learnt that learning a new language also means learning and belonging the part of its culture.

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Reflection on Podcast “Behaving So Strangely”

It I were to be honest, I should say that I don’t remember a whole lot from the podcast. In fact, I don’t remember anything, EXCEPT THAT ONE LINE OF MUSIC/PHRASE/WHATEVER ONE MIGHT CALL IT. It’s black magic. No it’s not. It is just a repeated phrase played on a loop, which sounds like a music after a while. I began thinking about why the rhythm is stuck in my head throughout the whole podcast, and that why is it when I listen to the whole sentence, including that specific phrase, I can still hear that rhythm. I started to think about the times when I have something played on a loop accidentally too, and it also sounded like a tune after several repeats. I think the logical explanation to this would be because after several loops, our brain begins to not focus on what is being said, but instead focusing on what we normally don’t identify when we are hearing other people speaking: tone. After several repeats, the actually dialogue or speech does not stand out anymore, but the tone however, does. Since we normally don’t pay attention to the tone, it will be very obvious to identify if our brain ignores the content of the speech, but just focuses on the sound. After the tone of the speech is identified, the brain will now register it to the speech every time we hear it, no matter if it’s in a whole paragraph, a sentence, or just by itself, the tone is already registered to the phrase, like a lock and a key.

I think this goes to show that languages do indeed have different tones and are essentially a form of music, just music that we don’t usually recognize. The difference in pitches are usually quite subtle and random too, so it would be hard for our brains to recognize the pitches and rhythms in the first attempt. But in a situation presented like the podcast, the brain will get several chances to hear the same thing over and over again, and given that amount of time, the slightly different pitches will be heard, and some how exaggerated. The reason I say exaggerated, is because we will now hear that phrase, like its a part of a song with huge shifts in pitches, but in reality it would only be a slight variation. However due to the fact that the pitches are recognized, there is nothing that we can do to forget about it. Very weird.

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Reflection on Deutscher Article

Upon reading Deutscher’s “Does your language shape how you think” article, I found some points to be particularly interesting. To start off, he pointed out some fatal flaws in Whorf’s assumption of language limiting people’s ways of thinking, and directed our thoughts to how language helps people to understand certain things better. I like this line “Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey.” This is a quote from Roman Jakobson. The reason why I found this so interesting is because it is very true. For example, in English, “cousin” is the only word needed for describing a relative of ourselves, but in Chinese, there are more specific names, and if it were to be translated into English, it would be “Cousin that is a younger female”, or “Cousin that is an older male” and so on. I hadn’t given it much thought before, but now that I read this essay, it suddenly struck me as a reason why I found it so incredibly difficult when I wanted to explain an event that included a certain cousin of mine, to a person who doesn’t speak Chinese. I want to specify his/her gender and her age, but in English I simply couldn’t do that.

Another interesting point Deutscher made was how Guugu Yimithirr people are still able to understand the same directions as us, even though they don’t use the terms “left” or “right”. It is a remote Australian aboriginal tongue, and the people who speak it do not understand the concept of left or right, but can point very precisely every time where North or South or East or West is. One person was even spun around a number of times as an experiment, and can still accurately point out where North is.

This goes to show that the Mother Tongue of a person does not limit his ways of thinking. Instead, people can use different languages, and still manage to communicate because although one language might not have a specific word or phrase, it must have something else to replace that phrase which would ultimately mean the same thing to both groups.

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‘Dreaming in Chinese’ and ‘The Bilingual Advantage’

Two texts were talking about how nice to be bilingual.  The most remarkable issue was that bilingualism helps forestall the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia is one of the worst diseases that human can get, because it removes valuable memories. Time I had fun with friends and family and time I want to go back will be eliminated from my brain; it is scary. I firmly believe bilingualism would slow down dementia and this is little hope for human who detest getting Alzheimer’s disease.

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Does Different Languages affect Our Musical Ability

As stated in the video recording, being influence by languages like Chinese has a direct correlation with perfect pitch. To an extent there is, however, our personailty plays apart to our musical ability. If our personality was a more joyful type or more attentive to detail, this would help towards achieving a perfect pitch. Though, it is a low percentage of people who would have such an ability, the traits would certainly allow you to build toward such talent. But does language really affect our talent or is it genetics. Many have already said that even though your parents could be the best at a certain talent, there is no definitive proof that a trait like Perfect pitch cannot be transfer. Arabic compared to Chinese the languages are different and the pitch is also different. However, can both posses a talent of perfect pitch? It is possible because scientist have said that we truly learn the most during our ages 6-12 and because of this our culture allows us to have such talent. We could have been born into a culture of music, we could learn of different sounds and be associated with musical notes in which it would build up perfect pitch. Everyday we are listening to some form of music and this provides the baseline which musical talent is taken from. Which is why language though having multiple tones would not be a factor only a way of expressing. English and Chinese would be similar because both have tones and it is based off how we say the word. In English our emotion is expressed, while Chinese separate words have different emotional means. This is why although language may have different tones, we do not recognize the sound because a talent but because we are associated with it.

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Lost in translation-Does your language shape you?

While reading this article, I kept on questioning whether language really shapes us or not. Then, I found the word “shape” too vague. It could be referred as shaping person’s personality or physical features, but it wasn’t clearly mentioned. Nonetheless, even if the word “shape” is clarified, language still doesn’t shape people. For example, many people think that Chinese people are rude because of their language. This can be thought because when Chinese people speak their language, they pronounce it harsh and aggressively. Yet, there are many Chinese people who speak their language softly, so not all of the Chinese people are rude. As there aren’t any scientific results which prove that language shapes people, it is hard to say if it’s true or not. In conclusion, I somewhat agree to this article but I still believe that language doesn’t shape people because language’s affects are all different from people to people.

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First Impression to TOK

If anyone asks me what makes IB course unique from any other learning courses I have experienced so far, I would definitely reply with TOK. Theory of Knowledge class, or TOK for short is something I have heard often during my IGCSE years, yet still have no idea what the lesson is about. However, one thing that all the rumors have in common is that they all says TOK is about questioning knowledge. Thus when I stepped into my first TOK class in my IB year, I thought I already knew what the session is about.

It turns out that I am dead wrong.

I realized I was being foolish to think I can understand TOK with such an vague explanation after my first lesson. Cause merely mindlessly question knowledge is not enough for TOK, questioning is just the first step. TOK brings us looking at how perceptive, culture, language and much more influences our understanding of knowledge, creating much more space for even more viewpoints to what we thought we knew.

Currently I am still unable to create a definite explanation to what TOK class is, and I may finish IB without achieving so. But that is only because TOK constantly stimulate us to question what we already believed. To quote from our first TOK lesson: “We know nothing.” Thus there is no such thing as a conclusion we can settle in, there is always more knowledge that we just have not yet thought of.

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What is language?

Language is a tool for communication, it is a way to connect with people around you, it can be written or/and spoken, it can also be physical (body language) and/or visual (images). Language is also a way to convey your ideas and emotions, to make people around you feel what you feel and know what you know.

In addition, language is used to illustrate and sometimes define culture. For different cultures have different sounds, grammar and words. Some may have more emotions and some may have more technical languages. Each one is unique and has different purposes, such as French is the language of love, making them a defining feature of culture.

Language is a crucial part of our everyday lives, without it our basic everyday actions would become more complicated and harder.

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Does your language shape how you think?


I agree with Boroditsky’s idea of language shape us. I certainly experience this  when learning English newly as second language. Different type of tense used in English grammar makes me consider novel things that I haven’t care when using Korean. After finish reading this argument, I wonder why and how I think the way I do which Korean has differed. Additionally, I become interested in studying new languages as well as new type of cognition and discover the things which is not uncovered yet because of not using that language.

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My first Impression of TOK

Before the TOK classes, I didn’t know anything about it. I just got the idea of what it stands for from the time table, but I didn’t know what are we going to do in that class. However, after the classes that introducing TOK, I had more ideas about it. From the first lessons of TOK classes, I learnt that I have to keep asking questions about everything, and think about it as much as I can. Also, I felt that TOK class will be so helpful in the further future, not only in the IB Course.

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My First Impression of Tok

My first impression of TOK is that it has a really complex idea and it seems like it has something to do with philosophy. Taking Tok classes makes us wonder about things or questions that people don’t think about. When we are taught by our teachers or adults something we usually think that everything we are taught is the truth; however, listening to Tok classes makes us question about all the knowledges we were taught. Because we are so used to not questioning what we are taught, it was a really difficult and complex concept to me. I’m still not sure yet, but thte first lesson gave me a rough idca of what Tok lessons are going to be about and it’s really important to us. Now I think I kind of know the importance of learning TOK.


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Does your language shape how you think?_HJ

“Does your language shape how you think” by GUY DEUTSCHER was very interesting essay which was an essay that I never came across before. All this what can be regarded as a “dark secret” of language was rather mind-blowing. This essay talked about many things that we normally come across in our ordinary life, but never thought of. For example, “you might say: “after trafic lights, take the first left, then the second right.” You could also say: “afther the trafic lights, drive north, and then on the second crossing drive east”.

Using geographic directions doesn’t sounded right and I would have had a lot of diffculty telling a passenger how to go to their destinations if I was to use geographic directions other than egocentric coordinates. This clearly proved that the languages that I speak (Korean, English and Chinese which all uses egocentric coordinates) have shaped about how I think. But later, I realized that just not able to say it naturally doesn’t mean that I don’t think about the geographical directions. Adding on to this, I use geographic directions whenever I go to hiking. So I came to a conclusion that language can have a diminutive effect on shaping how I think, but it just all matters to the culture that I am part of. Since language is a part of a culture, fact that I am using a certain language means that I belong to that culture. It is not only a language that shape how I think, but it is several different parts of a culture that shapes how I think.

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does your language shape how you yhink?

Essay <Does your Language shape How you think> and <Lost in translation> discuessed about whether language can determine the way people think. Deutscher’s essay gives an example about Chinese. He claimed,because Chinese lacks concpet about ‘Tense’, so Chinese will not be able to understand the concept about time. However, this claim is not true. Chinese do understand the concept about time. Even the claim was wrong, I think language does shape how people think.

There are many examples to show how language can determine the way that people think. In <Lost in Translation>, there are four examples shown: Russian speakers, who have more words for light and dark blues, are better able to visually discriminate shades of blue. Thre Piraha, whose language eshcews number words in favor of terms like few and many, are not able to keep track of exact quantity.

Therse are the basic relationship between language and perception. However, I think language is more deeply connected to unconsciousness. In Koream there is an intrinsic sentiment of Korean called ‘Jung’ and ‘Han’. These words can written in chinese, ‘情‘ and ‘狠‘. It means emotion and hatred. However, in Korea it is interpreted as a totally different matter. These words are mixed into Korean culture and way that Koreans interpret things.

Some examples that show how language affect how people think can be interpreted easily. However, some are oblivious. It is just connected to out unconsciousness. People from different nations will interpret things in different ways. Therefore, people with different languages will have different characteristics and ideology.

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‘Lost in Translation’, How does our language shape us?

Our languages shape us as how we think. We can figure out this, by differences between each language. The essay, ‘Lost in Translation’ says, in English, we have to mark the verb for tense but in Indonesian we don’t need to change the verb for tense. Also, in Russian, they have to mark tense and change the verb for gender. By these examples, firstly, we can recognise that a native speaker of English put focus on tense. It can also mean that their way of thinking put important on time and tense. English men are more shaped for tense in their life than Indonesian, who doesn’t care about tenses. Also in Russia, they are shaped as put emphasis on gender. By these examples in the essay, I could get ways of thinking for each country.

My own experiences of shape of languages can apply to Korean. In Korean, we have to use different verb for ages. For example, we use the honorific type of language to elder people or teachers and for younger people or friends we talk roughly. In English, they generally talk down and they only have some words for polite form. However, in Korean, we have all words in honorific types. As Korea is the country of courteous people we can get this idea from Korea language.

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Lost in translation, does language shape the way we think?

In the essay “Lost in translation”, Boroditsky uses Pormpuraaw, a remote aboriginal community In Australia, to explain how our language shapes our way of thinking. In Pormpuraaw, absolute cardinals are used instead of right and left to describe directions. Also, a common way of greeting somebody is “Where are you going?”, where an appropriate answer would be for example  “A long way to the south-southwest”. Because of this, you would barely be able to greet someone in this community without knowing cardinal directions. While Boroditsky claims this as an example of how language effects our way of thinking, I personally think it is more an example of how our culture , and not language, effects our way of thinking. I believe that there would be a possible way of saying “Hello, how are you?” in Pormpuraaw, but of the same reason as we don’t greet somebody by asking for where they are going in english speaking countries, “How are you?”  is not a question they use in this aboriginal community.

I can make up my own example of this by using the differences between english and swedish, which is my first language. In Sweden we don’t  normally say “How are you?” to somebody we randomly run into because it’s not in our culture to greet anybody with more than a simple “Hello”. This does not mean that it isn’t possible to translate “How are you ?” into swedish, but if you would, you would expect the person to answer honestly instead of the english way of always saying something like “Fine thanks, and you?”

This proves, once again, that you can’t be a part of somebody’s culture just by speaking the language. To actually become a part of the culture you would need to live in the country and learn the correct usage of the language in order to fully understand its rules and regulations.


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Does Your Language Shape How You Think?

Language does not affect our ways of thoughts because the two are completely different. Guy Deutscher states that our mother tongue would influence our way of thinking, and he provides examples e.g. spanish and german to promote his idea. However, these are minor details when it comes to influencing our thought process. Our thought process is completely judged and influence purely by our culture and our history. For example, Asians have a tendency to want for more,  hoping for excellence, which is why asians parents send there kids to multiple lessons. Our language does not affect this, this is traced back to our roots when Asia was not known for rich, instead it was a place of poverty and the only way to advance further was knowledge. Scientist have also said that a history of abuse can lead the victim to a darker path. Does language affect this, does it influence children to become murderers? Language has no effect in our thought process, even though Guy may argue that masculine, feminine and time may prove to counter my point. Though it changes the amount of information gained from such conversation would it alter our thought process. We would continue the conversation as if the subject has already been address. Even though, some may argue that by knowing a gender or time the following conversation may change, however, even in english where it is unknown Person X is going to ask the question of gender and time. Language does not affect our thought process, instead it is only a way of displaying our thoughts in a way for people to interpret.

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‘Does your language shape how you think?’ – Guy Deutscher

Does my language shape how I think? In my opinion, yes, it does. According to Deutscher, the ‘Australian aboriginal tongue, Guugu Yimithirr, from north Queensland’ uses geographic coordinate, which is very unusual in many other languages. Using ‘north, south, west, east’ can be more convenient and natural to some people. A language builds up a habit of thinking in specific way. This might be affected by culture and expression that a language has. This habit also appears in everyday life thinking. The language will oblige a person to pay more attention on something that is important while speaking and thinking in that language. Therefore, it is true that a language shapes our thinking.

I can speak 3 languages, Korean as first language, English as second language and Chinese as a third foreign language. Unlike when I am speaking Chinese, I think in English while I am speaking English even my mother tongue is Korean. This means a lot to me because as I think in English I think in different way. It is difficult to explain, indeed. However, I believe that it is because language shapes my thought. Two different languages, Korean and English, definitely have different culture and perspective toward same object or event. Hence, various language shapes dissimilar thoughts.

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My First Impressions of ToK

When I first glanced at the lessons on my timetable, I was immediately drawn towards the 3 words “Theory of Knowledge”. Not only was it the longest class name I had ever encountered before, but also the name itself provoked many questions. What is the theory of knowledge? Is this the endgame, the final class where every issue is answered?  Certainly, there just cannot be only one way in which every person thinks. How little I knew.

The first four lessons of TOK were completely different from what I had imagined them to be like. For one, it made everything I had previously thought impeccable seem invalid and theoretical. I had entered the classroom knowing that I knew, but left believing that I did not. In other words, TOK seemed a tad too ‘avant-garde’ for me.

The discussion on Chinese Medicine versus Western Medicine was certainly informative, as it showed that certain individuals prefer one technique to another. Also, details within the two types of medicine increased my background knowledge, my case in point being the fact that I always thought acupuncture was a myth, and not effective at all. The Areas of Knowledge and Ways of Knowing are exceedingly helpful, as they categorize the different means of knowing in a comprehensible way. Overall, TOK comes across as a fluid and intangible lesson, ever-changing and omniscient. This class seems to encompass everything, and without a doubt, it almost certainly does.

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My First Impression of TOK

My first impression of TOK is that it reminds me of a philosophy course. In that we question things that we normally wouldn’t even think about. I find some of the discussion very interesting and engaging. I think the first lessons of TOK really helped me understand just what exactly we will be going over in this class for the next two years. It also made me appreciate the value and importance of this class not only for the IB curriculum but also in life, in general.

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My first impression of TOK

I had the TOK lesson just as a newbie in the school. It was strange and fresh for me to think about ToK questions, which is different with other classes. It inquires about such as How can I say that something I believe is right. I also learned a lot from friends’  discussing about the cultures at the last lesson. I believe that through this kind of study I can improve my thinking ability with others. I anticipate the upcoming lessons.

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My first Impressions of TOK

TOK has been a very interesting lessons that has made me very openminded about different ideas in the world right now. The first four lessons have been useful because they have helped me understand what makes you acceptable in a culture and what the difference is between being knowledgeable is and having certain skills in certain areas. TOK also helps you to understand and accept different ideas. The TOK classes can be improved if we have more group tasks as this involves discussion between the groups and promotes discussion of different ideas that may be put forward by the different groups.


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Impressions of TOK & Comment

Before the first few TOK classes, I have no idea how profound TOK. The only thing I knew is that we need to ask questions, the more the better and then asking more questions on top of that. Rather, I thought this class is basically just asking weird questions, questions that cannot be solved.

However, after a few sessions in the sauna classroom, I have realized that it is much more than that. It is a part of the IB diploma that requires us to explore how the WOKs and AOKs, how the two bigger ideas overlap. Most of all, it is a chance for us to analyze and think about the world in which we live in, how different factors, backgrounds, and other factors can influence what we believe in.

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First Impression of TOK

When I first heard about TOK, I was still in year 10, and I wondered what TOK classes were going to be like. Is it going to be hard? What are we going to learn? Coming into the first class of TOK, I was expecting a long lecture about what knowledge is, and be given a big book about TOK to read or something. Previous to the class, I had no knowledge of what TOK is, not even remotely.

Then class started. To my surprise we didn’t get any thick books to start us off, we didn’t get long lectures on what TOK is. Instead, we experienced a small demonstration of how TOK relates to our lives. The demonstration included two people who have the same disease, same symptoms, but are seeking for different medical help. One is searching for Western Medicine, while the other seeks Traditional Chinese Medicine. What’s interesting about this example, is that I had run into a similar situation before. In yr 10 when I suffered a severe injury to my lower back, my family struggled to decide whether I should seek western or Chinese medication. In the end, we decided that I was going to both kinds of treatments. Much like the demonstration, I took x-rays when I received Western Medication, but got Acupuncture at the Chinese Medication.

It was hard for me to judge which one was more useful. The Western Medication stopped the pain, but essentially acupuncture and massage helped recover my body. My body was even healthier than before after the treatment ended. So this demonstration really spoke out to me, and opened up a new mindset for me: to question. Why can someone who knows nothing about either Western or Chinese Medicine have the ability to judge which treatment is better? To phrase it better, “what makes them come to conclusions and judgements?”

Overall the introductory classes to TOK were great, and I look forward to learning more about TOK, hopefully maturing my thinking along the way.

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My first impressions of TOK

What is TOK? Well, of course I knew it stands for Theory Of Knowledge, but I did not know what we are going to do in TOK. I’ve heard we will be questioning every knowledge we have. But still it was so vague that what is aim of TOK. I was not sure about every single thing. What specific knowledge will be questioned? At first I limited the area of TOK because it was easier for me to do that. Also, I worried about how to do well in TOK. After two weeks I realized  I was restricting my thought too much and TOK is looking for unlimited thinking. I am still not definite about TOK yet. However, I kind of understood advice from current y13 “be open-minded during TOK lesson”. I liked introductory lessons and it did really help me so that I could at least come up with this conclusion.

In my personal opinion, the 4th lesson helped me the most a. To be honest, conversations with peers confused me more, but I think this confusion encouraged me to think more and made me to have confidence in my own conclusion.

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First Impression of TOK_HJ

I was half afraid and half uncertain about TOK. After hearing from many of Korean year 12s and 13s last year, TOK sounded like a subject where you are likely to fail if you are not a philosopher. Right before I entered to my first TOK class, I was thinking of millions of things such as “what if it’s something that need a deep philosophical background knowledge?”. I got more confused as I get to know more aspects of TOK such as WOK.

For the first half of the class, I was bit bewildered. This was because not only we had no textbooks, nor make any notes, but also all we needed to do was just talk about what we taught about certain questions like “is Asian medical system better than western medical system?” However, these question made me to think deeply about my beliefs. I always thought western medical systems are better than Asian one because it is more scientific and it has spread widely through out the world. But I realized by the end of the class that being just scientific doesn’t simply mean that it is better. As this process continued and repeated, I began to notice how little and brief my knowledge was, which was a mind-blowing experience.

Now, I wait for next TOK classes. I want to know the truth about knowledge and what knowledge is really mean to us. I also like the fact that TOK is not like any other subjects in IB, but every subject has an aspect of TOK. I can’t wait to start a presentation or work on a topic which I can explore what a knowledge is for me and whether it is a true knowledge or not.

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My First Impressions of TOK

I was confused when I heard about TOK the first time. The concept of knowledge is already quite vague, and theory of knowledge didn’t make any sense to me. It also seems hard to test and grade students in TOK. I couldn’t figure out whether it’s some sort of humanity or more like philosophy. The idea of TOK was truly confusing at first sight.

The first few lessons were fascinating, nothing like any other lessons before. The idea of ‘we know nothing’ is surely shocking, but that lets us tview knowledge in a new perspective. TOK got us to doubt, question and think in a totally different way. Nothing is really taught in TOK, in fact, the lessons uses various ways to make people think hard.  I now understand that in TOK, what matters is getting us to think and get our own answer, and question it again. Influences our ways of thinking so that we can dig deeper into what we once considered as our knowledge.

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What is TOK? My first impression on TOK

Before the intoduction lessons, for me TOK looked so vague. During the introductionary lessons I learned that TOK is about perception, emotion, knowledge or just everything! However, on the other hand TOK’s basic concept was based on “we don’t know anything”. This concept and basic knowledge about TOK confused me.

I have deeply thought about what should I do to get good grades in TOK during introduction lessons. In the first lessin, I learned that what we know as a fact is not knowledge, which still doesn’t make sense to me. So we need skepticism for TOK? Should I be cynical and recognize everything as a lie? I still didn’t know what should I do for TOK.

In the second lesson, i began to recogzine some concept of TOK. Mr. Macknight told us story about Socrates. Socrates is a philosopher. He is thought to be the most wise man in the world but Socrates said he doesn’t know anything. From this story I realized learning is an ‘infinite’ element. Throughout my life I will have to keep studying in order to cope with society, even I am no longer a student. For me, TOK seems very valuable. I want to realize the real meaning of learning through TOK lessons.

From introductory lessons, I also realized I need criticism on my surroundings. I need to put questions on everything on my surroundings and conscious about issues around me. To to this, I will need lot’s of background knowledge and logic to express myself. There is no answer to TOK, it is realted to humanity and psychology.

I am still confused about what is TOK, but I will read and study in order to have better understanding.


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TOK! What’s That! (First Impression)

TOK or Theory of knowledge in its long form is part of the core of IB. The new Oxford American dictionary describes knowledge as “facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.” Sounds like a pretty solid definition but what TOK for now has taught me is to question. We must question everything, is TOK teaching us to be cynical, doubtful who knows. But what my first impression is that TOK is going to be confusing and it is not going to be like a regular subject in which you can just memorise facts or formulas. TOK is something that really requires a lot of thinking. The story of Socrates really fascinated me, because I find philosophy very interesting yet TOK is the balance between philosophy and psychology. Its not one or the other its both. Socrates was considered the wisest man because he was the only one who admitted he knew nothing and then started to question everyone around him and see whether or not they knew something. Because when do we truly understand something. Numbers, alphabets, language its all made up, its all human creation. TOK like past students have said requires you to open your mind and go beyond the boundaries. We can’t just stay in the box but we have to question whether or not if there is a box in the first place. TOK is definitely going to be interesting and I’m definitely going to enjoy it.

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My First Impressions of TOK

My first impression of TOK was it was very different than any other subjects. We needed to think about questions that we thought we already knew. It seemed like there was no correct answer to the questions as long as we have a reason for our opinion.

The first 4 lessons were very useful, especially the first lesson when we talked about Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine, it really got me thinking. I now know the purpose of  learning TOK. However, I am confused about how are we being tested in TOK.

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First Impression of TOK

TOK requires a lot of concentration and deeper thoughts. Although, the course has just begun and only having 2 lessons a week, puts a hold on the amount of content we learn. However, these lessons has already set the pace. The difficult part of TOK is to think of questions and to look at all sides. Also, I’m still confused as to how the course progress. For example are we going to have a question/ topic that we are going to discuss as a group or are we going to be pick on the spot? But besides these small confusions, the course has been interesting.

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My first impression on TOK

My first impressions of TOK is that it requires a lot of thinking and that you always need to evaluate your question one step further than you would think.  Also, I think it is a bit abstract tho there is never really a correct answer but more questions instead.

The four first lessons were helpful to learn about the basics of TOK and what we would be learning. I would have liked  even more examples as the one with the eastern/western medicine to learn more exactly what are good questions to ask referring to different subjects, but I guess we’ll talk more about that later on in class.


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My First Impressions of TOK

Personally the lesson that made the most impression on me was when we were talking about the different culture, when we had a variety of teams. I leaned about different quirky aspects of a range of cultures, including my own. However, there are still many unclear features about TOK that I would like to know about, for example do we choose our own question or is it provided?

TOK made the impression that it would require a lot of brain power as well as trying to look at things from many different angles to get the full story. Furthermore to question EVERYTHING. That way we can dig deeper into the truth and knowledge.


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Advice for new TOK students

A major piece of advice I have for you before starting TOK is for you to be open-minded. When discussing a topic, you must consider all viewpoints and arguments, and don’t look down on anyone else’s views or comments. Another piece of advice is for you to be confident. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Even if you’re wrong, your comment may spark an idea for someone else.

For the essay and power-point, it is key for you to be interested and knowledgeable regarding the topic. If not, then you risk being un-interested when conducting research which may result in you not applying your greatest effort. Also, being interested in a topic will mean you have a background knowledge of it, making research easier.



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