Biology is ripe for TOK discussion and links, and it seems that every month there are curriculum and TOK-related knowledge issues in the news. This section provides some respources to stimulate discussion and give ideas for your TOK Essay.
Biology and TOK
- Biology is one of the natural sciences, an area of knowledge.
- The natural sciences can sometimes be placed in false conflict with the arts or religious and indigenous knowledge systems. These conflicts are rarely helpful to the knower.
- The natural sciences tend to rely on the ways of knowing of sense perception, reason, language, memory.
- There are many examples of discoveries made or inspired by imagination, intuition and emotion – however these are then rigorously tested and explained using the scientific method (falsification).
There are many good resources on the natural sciences as an area of knowledge on Mr Hoye’s TOK website. This includes a helpful chart of the explicit suggested TOK connections from the IB Biology subject guide.
Case Studies & Provocations
Here are some ideas for connections to the Biology course, either as case studies or simple provocations that can engage students. Many of them basically boil down to the issue of the scientific method and how we decide to act upon (or ignore) scientific evidence. If you find them useful, or have suggestions for improvements, please let me know in the comments.
- Evolution, natural selection, the nature of science (and falsifiability) and that tired old saying.
Ode to a Flower
- Richard Feynman on his discussion with an artist friend. Who sees the beauty of the flower?
- Outstanding TED Talk stimulus. How do tribal shamans work out which combinations of plants give the correct effects without endangering their lives?
- “You have the right to your own beliefs but not your own facts.”
- By what criteria should a claim be judged to be ‘pseudoscientific’?
- Media manipulation of low-quality evidence. Over-reaching conclusions.
- Are we truly unselfish or is kindness a veneer to promote our own reproductive fitness?
- “How have we convinced ourselves that there is no moral expertise; that every opinion has to count?”
- To some it doesn’t matter how right you are, but how loud you shout. Sadly.
- Rationalism, scientific thinking and climate destabilisation.
- Exploration of the IB Animal Experimentation Policy
- Look up some of John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” episodes for recent inspiration and some sweary-ranty take-downs of pseudoscience and media.
TOK Questions: 2018 Batch
TOK Questions: 2017 Batch
Past TOK Questions: Posters
Here are some quick posters made up for TOK Essay questions (Nov2013 Session).
Teachers and students from other schools:
Please feel free to use these resources! Teachers may copy/paste or link to the resources, but please cite the source as i-Biology.net and provide a link. Thanks. If you do use these resources, please let me know in the comments below!
For a pretty comprehensive resource for the overall TOK course, visit Mr. Hoye’s TOK Website. Lots of ideas, resource and past and present essay titles.
Here is a nice example of resource sharing – a Natural Sciences TOK Scheme of Work on Scribd, from Simon Taylor. His blog, KnowledgeTheory, has lots of resources, as well as a specific site for the Natural Sciences. Check out his cycling blog too.