A TOK Lecture on Mathematical Thinking

Students in our International Baccalaureate program here at RM are required to take a core class called Theory of Knowledge (TOK) which is kind of a philosophy class for high school students–or, at least the epistemology piece.

In some schools, this course is taught by math teachers. Here at RM, no math teachers currently teach TOK, which is too bad. So I volunteered to put together a guest lecture on Mathematical Thinking. I’ve tried it out once with a TOK class and I gave the lecture for some of my math teacher colleagues today after school. I plan to give the lecture to more TOK classes this spring.

I thought I’d share it with the MTBoS as well, so here it is. Feel free to read, comment on, or borrow my materials. I think other IB math teachers would especially benefit:

3 thoughts on “A TOK Lecture on Mathematical Thinking

  1. Nice!
    I showed this video to my Algebra students just before our Thanksgiving break: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbNymweHW4E (PBS Idea Channel “Is Math a Feature of the Universe or a Feature of Human Creation?”) They totally dug it, although quite a few complained it went too fast.
    We came back after the break to a new unit discussing the real number system — it was awesome to talk about each subset in the context of “did we discover this, or invent it?”.
    I love the quote you found from Orlin: “[Math] is like a gorgeous painting that also functions as a dishwasher!” I’ll definitely be incorporating some of this stuff in our continuing discussion; thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Andrew! And thanks for the video link too. I may have to share that in class or make kids watch that in conjunction with my TOK guest lecture.

      The fact that you were able to incorporate some TOK-type conversation into the course of a normal math lesson is awesome. I try to do this as often as possible. I wish I could create time in my math classes for Socratic seminars where we circle the desks and talk about philosophy of math :-).

      And yes, Ben Orlin is a total blogging superhero. I’m such a huge fan!

  2. Pingback: Looking back on 299 random walks | Random Walks

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