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Knowledge and indigenous societies

Knowledge and indigenous societies

Within this section, you’ll find free and premium content to help you take ownership of indigenous societies, and help you to draw on it to create a great TOK exhibition.

Follow the links below to access quotes, knowledge questions, real-world issues, and key ideas and thinkers related to this optional theme.

Explore knowledge & indigenous societies

Explore knowledge & indigenous societies by clicking on the images below to take you to a huge amount of content to help you understand this optional theme. We’ve divided each page by both Big Question and by the different aspects of the knowledge framework, so whether you are following a conceptual approach to TOK, or a more traditional structure, you can use it to study and teach the course.

Quotes on indigenous societies

These quotes will kick-start your exploration of language, and help you reflect on your own understanding of this optional theme. Which quotes do you find the most and least insightful? How do the quotes interlink this theme with other aspects of TOK? Decide for yourself here.

Indigenous societies knowledge questions

Knowledge questions help to drive the TOK course, providing us with the opportunity to discuss, explore, and sometimes argue about the way we acquire, use, and evaluate our understanding of the world. Check out the knowledge questions for indigenous societies here.

Real-world issues about indigenous societies

These real-world issues will help you to explore knowledge questions, analyse the latest events and issues related to this optional theme, and apply TOK terms, ideas, and concepts to authentic situations. Discover the real-world issues about this optional theme here.

Key thinkers on indigenous societies

The ideas of these brilliant thinkers have shaped the way we understand the world, will help you take ownership of TOK, and which you can draw in your exhibition commentary. Meet our key thinkers for knowledge & indigenous societies here.

Receive regular updates about indigenous societies

Our free TOK newsletter provides you with monthly news stories related to TOK, enabling you to explore indigenous societies and the other optional themes within an authentic context, and understand how TOK concepts manifest in the world around us. Subscribe here.

Notes on indigenous societies

Follow the links below to access a range of notes, essays, and observations on indigenous societies, and the knowledge that defines it. Faculty members of the site can use our Classic TOK lessons for indigenous societies to make full use of the content.

Identifying indigenous societies

The United Nations estimate that more than 370 million people spread across at least 70 different countries constitute the world’s ‘indigenous societies’. This presents problems if we want to avoid falling into the trap of generalizing the peoples, and knowledge, that is found within them. Read more here.

Indigenous and western perspectives

As Laurelyn Whitt: “The richness of the indigenous commitment to epistemological pluralism lies in the recognition that there are diverse “versions of existence,” diverse ways of being in the natural world, and so diverse experiences to appreciate and respect.” Read more here.

Indigenous ways of communicating knowledge

Jared Diamond talks about spending time with a group of 20 New Guineans. Amongst them, the smallest number of languages anyone spoke was 5. Several understood between 8 and 12 languages, and one of them could communicate ably in 15 different languages. Read more here.

Indigenous approaches to the community

Indigenous societies are based on egalitarian lines, with status based on either the skills or the role played within that society, or the age of the person. This links to the fact that they live with nature, rather than off it. Read more here.

How to approach indigenous knowledge

To study indigenous societies is to understand how many ways there are of viewing the world. The words of Hamlet should always be in the back of students’ minds when looking at this theme: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Read more here.

Exploration points

Explore the quotes, knowledge questions, real-world issues, and ideas that feature on the site via questions and unpacking ideas, links to additional media sources, guidance on using the key concepts of TOK, and other suggestions. To gain access to the exploration points, become a member.

How does the TOK course fit together?

The optional themes are our personal and societal affiliations which shape the way we produce and acquire knowledge.

The areas of knowledge the the ways in which we categorize ideas and concepts in order to understand and take ownership of them.

Both the themes and the AOKs help to define us as knowers, which we focus on within the core theme – knowledge and the knower – as well as looking at the different communities of knowers to which we belong.

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