Friday, April 27, 2018

TOK Essay Practice

"Some areas of knowledge seek to describe the world, whereas others seek to transform it." Explore this claim with reference to the human sciences and one other area of knowledge.

While the quote makes no direct statement regarding the exclusivity of describing and transforming the world, there is an implication that the two are mutually exclusive. As examined in human sciences and religious knowledge systems, knowledge seeks always to describe the world as one cannot transform something without first understanding it.

Human sciences are used both in order to understand human behavior and apply this knowledge to life. This shared knowledge among man kind attempts to inform and transform both the world and the individual. For example, psychology attempts to understand human function while psychiatrists use this information in order to help patients. These patients, in understanding their condition are able to be conscious of and in control of themselves. Transformation, therefore can be accomplished on both small and large scale. The individual has the ability to apply knowledge in a way that will transform the world they knew whereas this shared knowledge can create a change felt by a multitude of people such as the creation of Psychiatry as a career path. In the case of human sciences, it seems the knowledge is both describing the world through understanding and transforming the world through application of this understanding.

The area of knowledge that most exemplifies the ideas of both using knowledge to describe the world and using knowledge for both small and large scale transformation is religious knowledge systems. Religion began as an attempt for man to explain his surroundings and observations. This later developed and spawned multiple religions aiming to both describe the world and set guidelines based on these truths in order to change the world. In adopting religion as a lens of your own world, your personal interpretation of the world is altered and this transforms the way in which an individual lives. For example, my Dad found himself in a very bad place at one point and almost overdosed years ago. After that night, he began going back to church and stopped using illegal substances. He completely altered his life based on the idea that God was the one who saved him. My Dad transformed his life based on his adoption of a savior God as truth. Religious knowledge systems are known in this way: to be personal and unique to the individual. However, this area of knowledge plays a large role in transforming the world as well. Due to it's easy application too several walks of life, multitudes of people are led to follow various religions and adhere to their guidelines. This has a lasting impact on all of man kind as religious values, practices, and beliefs blend with culture to be carried down through the generations.

Both human sciences and religious knowledge systems reveal knowledge's ability to create understanding and describe the world we live in. The application of this knowledge, however, can transform the world. In these two cases, describing and transforming the world are not two mutually exclusive acts. It is the human interference that allows knowledge to do anything. Our understanding of these concepts allow us to describe, advance and transform the world we know and our own personal worlds.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Human sciences has been one of the most intriguing topics to me. It seems to be the most apparent topic. I see it in everything. Our interaction, our beliefs, our cultures, our reaction to things and our way of life as a whole is all encompassed in human sciences. It seems that almost every problem we have can be rooted in this topic. Interpretation depending on the individual plays the biggest role in this. Human sciences helps us to understand these issues and better equips us to face them.
Over the break I've had lots of time to think. Strangely enough human sciences cae to mind because of a strange predicament that I got into over spring break. Last semester one of my closest friends and I decided to part ways. Over the break I happened to find myself at the same vacation spot, at the same time and at the same restaurant. It got me thinking over what happened between us. I realized it was, in the end, a simple miscommunication. Though I had good intentions, they weren't perceived in the right way.
Later on in the vacation I was reading a book translated from Spanish called The House of the Spirits. I found that a lot of the customs, attitudes and practices were very different and I struggled to understand. This made me think: what if, because of the culture of the individual writing, I misinterpret or am unable to understand the piece? What my culture may find rude, another finds respectful.
This issue plays an important role in our functioning as people. In order to respect one another we must understand one another. I lost someone very dear to me because I was unwilling to understand and respect another's lifestyle or choices. This is why human sciences offers so much value and opportunity. It is a field with the potential to give its recipients an understanding of one another and a chance to coexist. Just as I will have to look into the customs that are introduced and hinted at in this book, us as a people must also be willing to look into and appreciate cultures other than our own. Issues that divide us many time come from misunderstanding and failing to respect the cultures, values and beliefs of another. This can be prevented through the practice of studying one another's ways of life and appreciating those things that make each of us unique.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

As we delved deeper into Social Sciences, the topic of culture and upbringing impacting knowledge and practice became very prominent. This idea manifested itself in World Literature as well as I found myself engaging in a conversation about masculinity and what it means to be "masculine". Who defines what it is to be a man and where is the line crossed that one is no longer labeled masculine. This particular topic came to mind in TOK as we spoke more on Social Sciences, the books I've been reading, and, most prominently, my home life. As we delved deeper into Social Sciences, the topic of culture and upbringing impacting knowledge and practice became very prominent. This idea manifested itself in World Literature as well as I found myself engaging in a conversation about masculinity and what it means to be "masculine". Who defines what it is to be a man and where is the line crossed that one is no longer labeled masculine. This particular topic came to mind in TOK as we spoke more on Social Sciences, the books I've been reading, and, most prominently, my home life.

My family is really into the Bachelor. We were watching it a few nights ago and my Dad made multiple comments about the man on the show such as "He's a punk" and "He doesn't even deserve to be on the show. He's not even a real man". Dad made these comments frequently, but only now did I notice and become somewhat bothered by them. Later in the show, the main character, Arie, had to fight against another man and lost. He again commented saying, "He can't even fight. What a punk". I noticed after Arie made sentimental comments to the girls on the show, Dad would say, "He's acting like a girl" or "He's probably gay". This got me thinking, do you have to act a certain way to be a "man"? 

My Dad was raised in a rural area in South Georgia. He's been taught and trained that there is a right and wrong image of masculinity. This shows even through his perception of a TV show. In the same way, all of our perceptions are impacted, to some extent, on how we are raised. Recently, we did a presentation on bias in obtaining knowledge. This idea not only applies to obtaining knowledge but also how we interpret the knowledge we obtain. Depending on our upbringing we all read the same knowledge through a different lens and this is something to be aware of. To say that Arie is not a real man because he acts in a way that reflects a different upbringing does not necessarily acknowledge all of the pieces at play. 

A similar problem comes in soft and hard sciences and is explored by Jared Diamond in a recent piece I read in TOK. Two professors engaged in a quarrel led to the revelation of a genuine issue between the two sciences: there seems to be a sense of superiority in those who practice "hard sciences" such as chemistry over those who practice "Soft sciences". Due to a difference in developing and obtaining information, it was deemed by Lang that Huntington's conclusions were mere opinion. This situation is applicable to the same problems that develop from my Father's reasoning: deeming something incorrect merely because it doesn't follow the same guidelines. Not taking the appropriate look at a situation or circumstance can cause us to miss something all together. As with Lang and Huntington, Lang failed to recognize and appreciate the complexity that goes into analyzing information in the field of Social Sciences and therefore failed to understand it. 

This idea about obtaining knowledge in the world can be seen in many more situations than just these two. Instead of entering the conversation with an idea of what is right or wrong, we must be open to assessing the information with a clear mind. Lang and my Dad were so caught up in their methods that they failed to acknowledge any other method. If we were to adhere to these guidelines what would make each man unique? How would we determine the behavior of our people ? How would we understand one another and our society? How could we do any of these things without giving some merit to differentiation and the methods of human sciences that Lang suggests are only "opinions"? To accept that there is nothing more to be considered than what you've always known is to remain in the cave. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

The new proposal about how the class will proceed seems to be full of both advantages and disadvantages.

One of the major issues presented by the IB program is an immense level of stress cast upon those who partake in the benefits of the program. Through changing the system of TOK this stress is lessened to some extent allowing for some level of release for the students. This knowledge that there will be no grading based on right or wrong allows us to freely discuss, consider and speak up about all kinds of possibilities without the fear of being incorrect and having a grade that reflects this. In addition, it alters our mindset and helps counter the issue of school putting us into a mindset of doing the bare minimum to get the grade. Instead of following strict guidelines, our minds are free to wander and explore allowing for deeper and more meaningful conversation, which i believe should be the main goal of TOK. In short, this new way of grading allows a way to better obtain the goals of TOK and, to some extent, IB.

While there are clear advantages for the students in this new program, it is possible that the change could cause some to fall into the habit of laziness. No grades, in a students mind, says "you don't have to do the work". This causes those students to completely neglect their growth in the TOK class and avoid gaining the benefits that the new program has the potential to offer their education and learning. Students must be able and equipped to change their mindset from the letter grade to a mindset of what could be best for their learning. The change is designed for students who WANT to grow, not students who want a GRADE. Therefore, to avoid laziness, the class, and myself, must adjust and recognize that the goals they have now should be different from the goal of getting a grade as in their previous classes.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A while back, Brewer assigned the cave essay to the class. I did the assignment, turned it in and allowed it to leave my brain. I hadn't put much thought into the cave when this assignment was over with.

Looking back at the essay, I have developed some new thoughts on the matter. Previously, I thought of this issue of "being in a cave" on a large scale basis of humanity and our
society as a whole. I neglected to think of this issue in application to my own life and the people around myself with whom I am directly involved. 

The biggest issue that this contemplation brought up was racism. This has many levels when addressing it through a lens of being in the cave.While society has developed and grown since the 1800s, it seems that racism can still be seen throughout the generations. There are those who say it doesn't exist. These are the individuals who allow themselves to stay shackled and refuse to address that there is an issue to be overcome or addressed, at least. There are those who no it is an issue. These are the ones with the responsibility to bring other's out of the cave of racism that allows for people to be falsely labeled because of their skin. These are the people who have seen the world and have seen these people for who they are and not who they look and therefore need to share it with the lost. There are those who perpetuate racism through embracing it or even being complacent towards the issue. These are those who keep other's in the cave because they are unable themselves to leave the cave either because they don't know how or refuse to. 

This allegory of the cave can be seen in many lights, but the most impactful in my life is racism. Being in a younger generation and raised by an accepting mother, my views have always been that racism is wrong. People are defined by what's inside, not by how they look. I want to take up my responsibility in leading others to this light, however, I find myself being complacent because in most situations, the ones I am confronting are people I love and people I don't feel equipped to change. This can be challenging in a relationship where two people have such opposing views. The cave of racism has often created a divide between the people I love and myself. The first time reading the cave, I did not make these connections, however, now it feels that the cave is a prominent thing in my life. My inability to overcome this cave has caused most of these problems. While this is true, I've come to think that I can't force anyone out of the cave. I can show them the light and am responsible for taking this step but it is their choice to do the rest. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

I watched Bubble-Hoping(Reality part 2) as my podcast to reflect on. The Podcast began by referring to the life of a dog and the statement that we love these animals and live in such close proximity with them, but fail to see the world through their lens. Later on, the blog focused on a man named Max and his experiment in order to leave his comfort zone, or bubble, in order to interact with other people outside of his daily routine.

The interesting takeaway about the two stories is that it is easy for people to get caught up in their own small world and forget that there is so much to see, learn and experience outside of our little bubbles. How can we ever know the world if we continue to do the same thing we have always done? This question was the driving force behind Max's experiment which caused him to find himself in multiple unique groups of people estranged to him.

The podcast brought up several questions in my own life. I have gotten used to the same routine, much as Max had. Being in IB has been both a blessing for me in this aspect. I am surrounded by all of the people who, up until this point, I have had no association with. Our hobbies seem to differ along with our interests and friend groups. As the year has progressed. however, and I am put in contact with them for the majority of everyday, my outlook has changed. I have stepped out of my old bubble and realized my perspective on these people couldn't be more wrong. As it turns out, Eva isn't crazy intimidating, but rather genuine, funny and interesting. I was so quick to label things and people that weren't in my bubble, making up excuses for why I shouldn't make an effort to branch out and consider them. Now, as IB has forced me to face my fears I realize maybe my bubble isn't the best but the worst thing for me. It seemed so safe in the past, but now, I think it could even be dangerous. It keeps me from being able to experience all that the world has out there to offer.

Experiencing new things is hard for me. I'm not a risk taker and I'm not one to come out of my comfort zone. However, IB has taught me that it's not so bad to step out on a limb. I am constantly challenged with new and frightening things in IB that have all seemed to pay off. In normal classes, I've acquired the mindset that if I fail, I've become vulnerable to people who will take advantage of me. I've learned, especially this year, that failing doesn't always mean you lose. There can always be a takeaway. My mind should be focused less on the fear of what's to come and more of what can be gained out of the situation I am faced with. The podcast did less of putting new thoughts into my mind, but more on clarifying the conclusions I'd already seemed to come to through the program, which is nice because I've got so many thoughts in my head that things tend to be scattered sometimes.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

When given the assignment to make a map of something that mattered to me, I struggled with what to base the project on. I knew that the biggest impacts on my life were my friends, my experiences, and God, who was there for all of it. I wanted to express this with my map, but I also wanted to express my desire to one day be where God wanted me to be. I want to look back on my life and say that it wasn't all a waste. I want to mean something, if not in the eyes of those around me, in the eyes of God. 

The best way to express all of these ideas and thoughts about what makes up me was a treasure map, I decided. This accounts not only for who I am, but for who I was and who I want to be. I first mapped a path in order to represent God's direction for my life. I then drew my own path, showing the endurance of loss, the lessons laid out for me, and the people I gained along the way. These things developed who I am, however, the red x is what drives my actions and guides me in the right direction. 

In efforts to make my map seem more like a map, I allowed symbols and names to represent my challenges in life along with the moments of prosperity and people. The sea of rage, containing many hidden monsters. represented a past experience with my dad's marriage that I like to keep hidden away. While this is true, I felt it necessary to map this experience as it was the most defining experience of my life. I chose this experience to lead me from my childhood-childhood channel- into adulthood. It forced me to wake up and pushed me to fall on God when I needed him most. 

I noticed that I was the only map with a clear destination. Many others focused more on one aspect of their life, or led up to where they are now rather than the whole picture. This is likely because none of us know where we will be later on and so naturally this future doesn't seem to be something that makes up who we are-at least not yet. My future, however, inspires me and pushes me to act as I do and work for what I want. It seems my future plays just as big a role as my past which is why I felt that I must map this aspect of myself along with the past. 

I did notice that Leyna used symbolic names in order to represent aspects of herself as well. While my map was more or less a timeline of events, though, Leyna's map seemed to be various places, ideas, and memories all displayed. Her placement, rather than chronological like mine, was based on what pieces of her life bled into or led into others. For example, she placed family next to selfishness and explained that her tendency to be selfish led to family issues at times. Our maps, while different both provided for a deeper understanding on the way our brains think and the culture in which we were raised. This was probably the coolest thing to me. Seeing that Leyna and I took an assignment and created two totally different products that were equally able to expose aspects of who we are and how we got here.