Sense Perception in TOK

Have you ever wondered how reliant you are on sense perception to know and learn?  And, to what extent can we actually trust our senses? Over the past 2 weeks, Year 10 students have been exploring these questions in TOK class, by analysing marketing strategies which utilise touch and sight; challenging themselves to a Jelly bean taste test; listening to a hyper-sensory musical rendition; viewing micro-organisms under microscopy; and riding a pseudo-virtual rollercoaster.  These experiences linked to a fascinating explanation of the recently published images of the M87 Black Hole from a valued member of our community, retired QAHS teacher and friend, Mr Richie Robinson.  Here are a sample of our students’ thoughts on experiencing an art gallery with a difference:

“Queensland Academy Art Gallery (Dr Weston):

Upon entry into the Academy’s library, I could already sense the buzzing of excitement among my group about what would be an extraordinary visit. We were led to the doors of what was usually the Collaboration Area, and instructed by Curator (Dr) Weston to read and strictly follow the two rules stated plainly before us: to make as much noise as we want and to touch everything within the gallery.

And with that, the doors opened to the Queensland Academy Art Gallery, filled with a diversity of artworks originating from various cultures and time periods. I was wonder-struck throughout the whole experience by all the different kinds of items on display; but what really enhanced the visit was being able to express all the thoughts I wanted and physically interact with the gallery itself.  Sense perception was the main theme, with a display even encouraging visitors to smell and lick if they dared. The highlight for me would have to be the two colourful ‘most priceless pieces of art’ pinned to a blackboard and captioned ‘Jonny’ (2004). While outside of the gallery these might have been seen as just some average colouring-in sheets by a child, they caught my attention visually and reminded me of the saying ‘the beauty is in eye of the beholder’, which certainly applied in this case. At the centre of the artworks was a circular purple curtain that we later discovered was inspired by the Stendhal Syndrome Pavilion, a space where one can recover from the overwhelming feelings caused by an ‘overload of beauty’ perceived through the senses.

Before long, our visit to the authentic Art Gallery came to an end, and I reluctantly left the building with a new perspective on the significance of senses when it comes to – well, just about everything. Indeed, it turned out that my prediction was right: the brief visit to the school library was certainly not just your usual book borrowing errand.

Thank you to all the teachers.’’ – Louisa He, Year 10

As they conclude Semester 1 and embark on the June/July holidays, TOK students have been encouraged to continue exploring the world with wonder and curiosity, always asking – How do we really know?

Yours in inquiry and Theory of Knowledge,
Mrs Julie Bertwistle
English/Psychology/TOK Faculty