Theory of Knowledge for the 2015-2016 School year…

Well, the new school year is upon us, and with it the challenges of TOK for this year. The course for grade 12 students was scheduled outside the regular school day, so it is a challenge for the students to give up their lunch hour every second day. This year’s group will be the second group to use the new I.B. TOK curriculum and new I.B. TOK assessment rubrics on their internal and external grades. Below is a picture of this year’s class doing our annual “mask” activity for our study on the Arts!

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If I want to work in the computer industry, should I go to University? This University of Manitoba article might present some insight…

Google outreach stretches to campus (April 9, 2015): Work hard and continually practice what you learn. That’s the advice two University of Manitoba alumni gave to students when they returned to campus on April 2. Shawn Silverman and Tim Lambert work for arguably the biggest tech company in the world – Google. “I noticed one thing at university is if you do the work you’re probably going to do well,” says Silverman. Silverman has two degrees from the U of M. He obtained his BSc in Engineering in 1999 and went on to finish his MSc in Power Engineering in 2005. He’s been a software engineer at Google since May of 2014 and works in the data centre automation team. Silverman is responsible for hardware and data centres and monitors them to keep services running. He says his degrees from the U of M taught him more than the technical aspects for a career in engineering. “My experience at the U of M gave me some technical know-how but more so it definitely grew ways of thinking,” says Silverman. “It’s one thing to have a knowledge base where you know specific details and can develop things – it’s another to learn how to think. So the U of M gave me practice on how to think like an engineer, how to solve projects, and work with other people.” He adds, “It’s one thing to have a list of instructions and accomplish those instructions. It’s another to draw on your experience and think out of the box. Having the experience of having problems you don’t expect, that are off the beaten path of the textbook, that’s one thing I got out of my time here.” Lambert has been a senior software engineer with Google since 2013, figuring out the most efficient but least obtrusive way to deploy display ads. He earned a PhD in computer science from the U of M nine years prior. He came to Winnipeg from Australia under the guidance of Ralph Stanton, who was the department head at the time. Lambert stresses that if you want to work at Google or in the tech industry in general, you need to be a creative problem solver and of course, be fluent when writing code. Read the entire article here!

Theory of Knowledge, Area of Knowledge – Mathematics: Are calculators killing our ability to work it out in our head?

Since the 1980s we have had access to calculators of various types. Today, we can include computers and smartphones which are attached to our hip 24/7. So does this ubiquitous access to calculators affect our ability to do maths in our heads like we used to? Thirty years ago calculators promised immense opportunity – opportunity, alas, that brought considerable controversy. The sceptics predicted students would not be able to compute even simple calculations mentally or on paper. Multiplication, basic facts, knowledge would disappear. Calculators would become a crutch. The controversy has not dissipated over time. As recently as 2012, the UK government announced it intended to ban calculators from primary classrooms on the grounds that students used them too much and too soon. Research conducted in response to this found little difference in performance tests whether students used calculators or not. An earlier US study had found the same: the calculator had no positive or negative effects on the attainment of basic maths skills. Researchers recommended moving the conversation on. What types of tasks and activities suit calculators? How can calculators complement and reinforce mental and written methods of arithmetic in maths? Does the ubiquitous access to calculators affect our ability to do maths in our heads like we used to? Read the entiree article here!