Links to TOK in economics

Teacher notes

During your time as an economics teacher you may be asked to go into a TOK class and provide a mini-presentation on ways of knowing in economics.  The subject provides an ideal platform for this and the better your students are at applying their theory of knowledge skills to their studies in economics, the better they will perform in the subject.  Below are just a few of the possible links that you can make with the TOK course.

TOK in Economics

As IB teachers you will have a range of ideas as to how to go about developing TOK within your classrooms. I find that the easiest way is to develop TOK Knowledge questions within your teaching. These can be as little as 10 minute activities, or alternatively you may wish to explore certain themes and dedicate more time into your teaching schedule.

Knowledge questions are based on a real experience or event and draw on a range of different perspectives, through two different disciplines.  Economics can easily be one of these, with almost all theories subject to claim and counter claim.  A black and white view on the world often misses much of the point and economics offers many opportunities to explore this. 

This site includes a number of TOK activities, imbedded into many of the individual pages and links to just a small number of these are outlined below:

A link to some of the TOK activities on this site?

Is economics a science, available on page: Economics as a social science, provides an opportunity to incorporate TOK in the first weeks of the programme.  Also included in unit 1, is a TOK activity which asks the question 'does consuming units of a good or service leads to diminished utility', available at: Unit 2.4: Consumer and producer behaviour 

Would life be easier or more difficult without capitalism? This is the TOK discussion activity in: Circular flow of national income.

Are consumers seduced by successful marketing, is a theme within the units on demand and supply.  Similarly the sections on Veblen goods and super luxury goods, focuses on perception of value.  Are luxury goods perceived as higher quality because of their price, or is the price a true market reflection of quality?

The section of the site on government intervention also contains a number of opportunities to explore TOK through economics.  Examples are included on PED elasticity and sales revenue, which asks students to consider which goods and services are currently subject to punitive sales taxes and which products should or should not be taxed?  Are governments motivated by revenue collection or protecting the publc from demerit goods?  This theme is also addressed in: Unit 2.8: Merit goods.

The government intervention unit also considers another topic suitable as a TOK unit, for example should governments provide public services e.g. education and health or should individual consumers be allowed to make their own choices?  This can be accessed on page: The role of spending and taxation on inequality  

Other microeconomics units which can be used for TOK exercises include the question of whether or not, we are morally or legally obliged to pay taxes, as well as the question 'Are wealthy citizens morally obliged to look after the poorer members of any society'?  These activities can be found in Unit 3.4: Economics of inequality and poverty

In Unit 3: Macroeconomics, there are opportunities to explore theory of knowledge through taxation, e.g. for example 'Are high taxes fair, available at: Government budget, as well as a consideration of how economists can truly measure quality of life?  This unit also contains activities which question the assumption that economic growth is always good.  This can be found at: Consequences of economic growth  

Does free trade equal fair trade, is a central theme for Unit 4: Global economy as well as the question of whether aid helps or hinders the development of LEDCs.  A comparison of equity and equality can be found on page: Unit 2.13: The market’s inability to achieve equity (HL only) and this page also considers whether or not Capitalism is morally fair or not?  This is a theme also found in the sites last unit, 4.10: The balance between markets and intervention.

I will of course add more activities and links to the TOK course as the site develops.

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