Theory of Knowledge Journal                                         



To ensure that this class is not just another academic subject, devoid of contact with the “real


world,” I am asking that you keep a bound journal where you jot down outside references to

what you hear and discuss in class.  Do not use notebook paper or a lined composition

book.  You will value your thoughts more when housed in a permanent binding. Perhaps it

will survive for you to reread in later life.


The Subject Matter:


If you read a book, newspaper, or magazine article that triggers an association, describe it in your notebook.  If you overhear or participate in a conversation

that is intellectually or spiritually stimulating, recount it on paper.  Any thought or insight relevant to ToK is acceptable: TV, movies, music, theater,

friends, church/synagogue/or temple, ads, travel, other classes, sports, viewing of art, anything in or outside of class that seems related to problems

of knowing. The object is to create a dialogue with yourself where you can question the world and propose your  own  insights into the how and

why of things.


The Format of the Journal Entry:


 Journal entries need not be all narrative.  Poems, dialogues, and drawings are acceptable; however, each journal entry must always  clearly explain

why the subject is pertinent to TOK and it must be dated.   If I don’t clearly understand the relevance of your entry  to TOK, the particular entry

will receive no credit.  Remember, you are always dealing with problems of knowing.

Five journal entries will be collected at the end of the 7th week of each of the first three nine weeks for a total of 15 entries for the entire year.  Since

the fourth nine weeks is so filled with senior responsibilities, I will not require a journal submission.


To aid you in selecting topics that beg for journal discussion, I have provided the following suggestions:

  • ·         Pay attention to instances of logical or informal fallacies occurring around you.

  • ·         Describe instances in which your sense perceptions influenced your reactions to your environment.

  • ·         Describe arguments that occurred because people defined their terms differently. 

                  What were the different definitions and did the people involved finally realize their fallacies?

  • ·        Think of current events from a ToK framework; a recent example might be, “ What are the issues that divide Muslim extremists and

                 American policy makers?  Who has truth and right on their side? Find related newspaper clippings on both sides of issue.

  •          Take your journal to other classes (science, history, math, etc.) and jot down ToK related issues. Look for connections or discrepancies

                 between or among disciplines.

  • ·        If you have visited an historical or art museum, what caught your eye? Aesthetically what did you find pleasing and why? What, to you,

                is good art, literature, music, architecture, dance, poetry, etc. ?


Grading of TOK Journals


Your entries will be kept private.  Unless you desire to bring them up during class discussion, your journal is a shared “dialogue” between t

he two of us.  I will write comments and ask questions while grading your journal entries, but as long as the five entries  are at least one page

long, are dated with a subject heading, and have clearly explained connections to TOK, you will receive an A for this portion of your grade.

I do not want to see, however, five entries dated the night before your journal is due.  Spread out your entries over the course of the seven-week



Extra Benefit: When you write your ToK paper, you may find your journal entries have provided stimulus for further discussion. Who knows,

you may decide to keep a journal after the class concludes merely for pleasure.  Many of my former students do just that.


Below you will find examples of different styles of journal entries.



A Journal Entry that incorporates text and drawing 


A journal entry that provides a response to a newspaper  article:

Thursday, August 12, 2004                                             

Human Suffering and Political Inequality

I read a disturbing article today. They found 39 Dominican Republic migrants who were reported lost at sea. 55 others died. It is the survivors who tell the tale.


After two weeks at sea, an air of desperation and then terror gripped the people. When rations disappeared, some survived with nothing more

than a coconut to eat.Others died, not from starvation, but severe dehydration. One woman died after she was brutally attacked for her

breast milk. A few immigrants, after witnessing this and filled with abject despair, jumped from the boat into the dark waters, never to be seen again. One of the Dominican survivors, Ballano, later explained why they had set off on such a perilous journey. “I had no future there,” he flatly stated. There was no work in the Dominican Republic where unemployment is at 16%. There was no way for him to feed his family.


How can a country allow the rich to prosper while the poor “lead lives of quiet desperation”? Even here in America, in Miami,

there are the forgotten poor who seem little more than an embarrassment to our democratic ideas. Must there always be the rich

and the poor? I wonder if a classless society is possible?

A journal entry that provides a student reflection on an abstract idea:                  Morayo Faleyimu

2 September 2001                                            The Nature of Time

Recently I read a fantastic book by Alan Lightman called Einstein’s Dreams.  It was a series of vignettes based on Einstein’s theory

of relativity.  In each piece, time had a different quality.  My favorite story was about a world in which time slowed down at higher



Once the people discovered this, they began to construct houses on stilts and then on mountains.  Social classes developed according

to one’s altitude.  Those on the very top shunned those who were below.  The people most pitied, however, were those who refused

to worry about time and passed leisurely lives at sea level.  Eventually, the people forgot why living on mountains was so important.

They convinced themselves that the thin air was good, as were their strict diets.  Ironically these time-obsessed people looked bony

and old before their time.


Earlier this week in ToK, we were discussing time.  What is time? We asked ourselves.  We eventually decided that time was an

invented method used to organize the passage of events.  Without such understood terms, it would be difficult to discuss events

that have happened, are happening, or are going to happen. Different societies view time in different ways.   In America, punctuality

is an integral part of society.  In contrast, places like the Caribbean and Latin America do not pay such attention to time.   Meetings

begin late, city clocks are not synchronized, and the people take a more relaxed view of life.  American time is also more shortsighted

than others.  Native American tribes, i.e. the Iroquois, were noted for considering the effects of all their actions to the 7th generation of their

offspring. Perhaps if we examined this view and used it, we could prevent many of the problems that currently plague our country:

 overcrowding in cities, pollution of the environment, loss of native flora and fauna.


The greatest problem with time is that people fear it. They live by the clock and die by the clock.  Strangely, they become slaves

to their own  invention.  We stop asking questions and just frantically act out the motions of life.  In another philosophy book I read,

Sophie’s World, Albert told his protégée how we are little people living in a rabbit.  When we are young, we stand on the tips of the fur

and gaze around in wonder.  However, as the years pass, we burrow deeper and deeper into the rabbit, forgetting to marvel  at the stars.

Only philosophers maintain this  childlike sense of curiosity and always ask the eternal question: why?                          Morayo Faleyimu                                      


                                                    Examples of journal entries from Nick Alchin's classes PDF