02 JUNE 2015

Michael Dunn

Background

I went to school in Cambridge, and university at Edinburgh, where I majored in history. I did my PGCE at Exeter University, spending my first couple of years as a teacher in London. Then I moved abroad, and worked in international schools in Colombia and Perú for the next decade. My most recent position was TOK Coordinator and IB Diploma history teacher at Markham College, Lima, where I also established and co-ran the IB Film department.

What first drew you to TOK?

I began teaching TOK in 2009. Before that, I had only the haziest idea about what it was, but as a history teacher I had always encouraged my students to question the source of knowledge, and consider multiple points of view. So in a sense, I have always been a TOK teacher. As soon as I began teaching it officially, I realised what a wonderful subject it was. I wish I had had the opportunity of studying it whilst at school!

Why did you set up theoryofknowledge.net? 

I set up theoryofknowledge.net because at the time there wasn’t much on the web for those involved with TOK. It’s such a confusing course for those who come to it for the first time (teachers as well as students!), I felt that this was an important gap to fill. Since then, I have built up the site to become the most used online resource for the subject, and offer teaching resources, guides to the assessments, and online support for both educators and learners. I currently run the website full-time from my base in Cambridge.

Key tips for TOK

First, don’t be afraid of being confused. If you’re absolutely sure of something, it probably means you’ve already made up your mind, and aren’t open enough to alternative perspectives, and TOK is all about considering other points of view. Second, get involved. Bring your own experiences into the classroom, talk about books you’ve read, films you’ve seen, conversations you’ve had. How we gain and use knowledge is relevant to every experience we have, so almost anything can be used as the basis for a TOK discussion. Finally, try to enjoy and appreciate the course. At times it can be frustrating, but ultimately it will help you to understand things more clearly, and apply critical thinking to an ever-changing world.

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