TOK: What Do Objects Say About Different Cultures?

LAS Journal

TOK: What Do Objects Say About Different Cultures?

Here at LAS, we encourage our students to learn as much as possible about different cultures to nurture their development as they become compassionate global citizens. Cultural understanding broadens our horizons and creates inquisitive lifelong learners with knowledge and understanding of varied and nuanced cultures worldwide. Naturally, this cultural sharing and knowledge is facilitated through our international community, but how can we encourage this cultural sharing and learning even further through our curriculum?

Last week, one of our Theory of Knowledge (TOK) classes discussed the idea of culture and how we can gain knowledge about different communities worldwide. TOK is a compulsory core element of the IB program that allows students to reflect on the nature of knowledge and how we know what we claim to know. The class discussed this concept by exploring how knowledge manifests in the world around us in the form of cultural objects.

Students were asked to bring in one or two objects of significance to their culture. These tangible objects facilitated a discussion on where cultural knowledge comes from and what understanding we can gain from these objects about communities around the world. The students enjoyed the class, as it allowed them to share their cultures with others, a value that is at the core of LAS. 

The TOK students discovered that many objects have hidden meanings about different cultures. These messages sometimes resonate with people from all over the world, while others only resonate with members of that cultural community. An extensive range of objects were brought in by students, such as classical dance anklets from India, an excerpt from a Polish musical composition, traditional Taiwanese candies, a physics exercise workbook in Chinese, spiced garlic from Ukraine, an Indonesian flag, the Chicago Cubs flag, and many more! 

It was so interesting to see the different items and how they allow us to understand other cultures and question our ideas surrounding them. Learning through objects is important, as it helps students link theoretical concepts to tangible objects and says a lot about cultural practices and traditions around the world. 

What would you bring to a class to represent LAS culture? Perhaps a pair of skis?!


Where next?