Reflection on Emotion, Music, Memory

Music, memory, and emotion. Three things that are relatively all tied together if you wish to look at it in certain ways is it not? When I think of music, memory and emotion, I think of music triggering a memory that allows one to feel an emotion. But perhaps I am one of those (although I highly doubt it) overly sensual people that is simply trying to read too much into this whole thing. But, nonetheless I shall continue.

In class we watched some clips of the movie “Equilibrium” which brought up interesting concepts of what emotion can really do to one. In the setting, the ones in power were attempting to get rid of human feelings, and of course, since music can cause emotion, they were attempting to eradicate that as well. The scene that was most interesting to me in the movie clips was the scene where Christian Bale decided to listen to an old record, and started crying when he heard it. To me, this scene highlights and emphasizes the extent to which music can affect a person. Nowadays, I feel we take music a little for granted, for with sites like YouTube, we are able to listen to it for free and on a whim. However, when I stop and think about what music is, the hours spent by the writer toiling away with words and sounds, capturing emotion, it makes me realize just how complex and dynamic a simple piece of music can be.

For me, the music, or sound if you will that resonates most deeply is the Westminster chime for it is the chime that all Japanese schools sound when it is time for class. Every time I hear it, the “music” sparks memories of being back in Japan over the summer and attending a Japanese public school for a month at a time and the memory sparks all of the emotions I was able to feel: nervous, excited, a little below average (why were my classmates so darn smart???). It always fascinated and continues to fascinate me how a simple several note chime can spark all of these memories and emotions in such a short and effective manner.

Finally, reading through the “History of Music” article, the point I found most interesting was the line that stated that “some of the proposed survival benefits that music may have conferred includes its capacity to promote group cohesion and cooperation, to enhance cognitive and social skills.” I thought this line was especially interesting, for a few years back someone was explaining to me how when two or more people sing together, it makes the group happy for they can be on the same beat and be cohesive as a group. I find it interesting how something as simple as a complex array of notes on a piece of paper can have such a great effect on people, and can even help us to promote group cohesion and cooperation.


The extent of the schooling system

Before you start reading this, just know that I didn’t intend for this to be so long. Words kept flowing, and now that I’m looking back I’ve realized just how many words have flowed… sorry.

So a few weeks ago, school grades, or report cards if you will, were released into the eager (or dreading for that matter) hands of students attending my school. As always, these final grades are reports that I wait for, checking the website our grades are posted on far too often for any psychologist to consider healthy, in order to know what grades I received as soon as they are available. By now, since several weeks have passed, through the technological social hubs such as Facebook or the simple text, the majority of my grade has an understanding of how each individual peer fared when it came to the numbers that classify our performance. Slightly more recently, I attended a graduation party, where several people commented how they were helping out with the school’s summer school program. How do these two things connect? Well, I’ll get to that in just a moment; I’ve been thinking for a while now, and two thoughts hit me concerning grades and summer school, and I’m going to attempt to connect them through writing, for abstract thoughts in my head don’t seem to be working quite as well I would have hoped.


Thought 1: The grading system

Now, I suppose I may not be the best person to be criticizing the grading system considering the grading system serves me quite well, and for a while I considered not even posting this post because of it. But, the more I’ve thought about it, maybe the very fact that I excel through the current grading system is one of the reasons I should; instead of this post being a criticism from a person who the grading system does not suit (who becomes liable to just being a hater), hearing it from someone that it does might provide a different insight.

According to the internet, various experts, and whoever else would like to chime in, there is quite a bit wrong with the grading system. However, what I would like to focus on is how students are graded. In essence, when I think of grading, I think of a person with a higher education degree assigning children letters or numbers and in a way showing how he or she compares to others. I understand the concept of grading, I know how to handle it, and I know how to how to use it to my benefit. What I don’t understand is how the process comes around.

So far I’ve been talking about how I the grading system serves me quite well, and to put it into perspective, right now my GPA is through the roof (I feel sharing the actual number may not be a nice thing to do) but how did I get it there? By studying. So technically I suppose one could say my grades reflect the extent to which I study and try to understand the material and how we will be expected to use the knowledge. But this is where I start to question the grading system.

For example, take math. Math is one of the subjects I have never had a problem with, being a “math person.” Thus, due to some sort of thing happening in my brain, the subject of math does not require me to study long and hard in order to understand and utilize the concepts learned. However, (and I see this every day in class) there are some people who are not “math people” and thus learning the material takes them a significantly (yes, I can hear you scientists cringing at the use of this word) longer than it does for me. And I see these people coming in for extra help, and I’ve even helped a few that come to me for assistance, but they just seem to not be able to grasp the material. This is an issue because when it comes to test time, although they have definitely studied longer and harder than I have, often times I, who did not need to put as much effort into the work, end up with a higher grade than the people who have gone nights without sleeping attempting to grasp the concepts.

Yes, I do recognize that tests may be necessary in order to measure competency, but perhaps it is not a fair way to test people. Yes, score-wise, I may have done better than the “non-mathy people” but who put more effort into it? Clearly not me; not because I don’t care (trust me, I do) but because the subject comes naturally to me. Again, I know that tests are designed to test competency in a subject area, and I can see awarding people who have done better a higher score, but often times I feel the effort put into these tests by others are shamefully overlooked. Unlike a person, a test is a cold, copied sheet of paper that does not care or even have the capability to care for that matter about how hard the person putting their pencil upon its surface has studied; the only thing a test “cares” about is if someone gets the correct answer or not.

I truly think this method of testing competency really deters people who try extremely hard but do not seem to understand away from the system. I know how it feels to work so hard at something and ultimately fail to reach to reach the top, only because you were beaten by someone that you know didn’t put as much effort into it as you. If you don’t know that feeling, you’re either lying, or you’ve probably never done anything that was challenging to you in your life. Anyway, I really think testing deters people from trying hard again, for fear of not getting the outcome they want. At least this time, if they don’t do so well, they can just think, “well at least I didn’t waste time studying.”

TOK CONNECTION QUESTION: To what extent do tests provide a useful medium for testing and developing competency?


Thought 2 (and connection between the thoughts): The grade system

So the title of this section is “the grade system” and since it is so darn close to the other title, I was thinking of changing it, but I really like this title since it fits what I’m going to talking about next really well. So just in case you don’t want to read my into again, this next thought will stem from me talking to some recent graduates about how their work at the school’s summer school program is going.

Personally, I’ve never been to summer school, so I don’t really know what it’s like, but I’ve heard about it from some people, and I think I have a decent understanding of what it is, and how it is like. Student who are either struggling in class, would like to get ahead for next year, or whose parents feel summer school is a good option are sent for schooling over the summer. Although I recognize and admire the people who are not necessarily struggling who go to summer school, this thought focuses on those who are recommended for summer school because they are struggling in class.

Often times, a recommendation for summer school comes along with the notion that if the child does not attend summer school, the child will fail the grade, and will have to repeat the grade the next year. See, this is where I really have a problem with the educational grade system. Instead of having concrete grades that children of certain ages (for example when one is in 5th grade, one should be 10 or 11 years old) I think perhaps grades should be considered as levels one can progress through no matter what age one is. I suppose as this point it would be very hard to change the system now that everyone expects people to be in certain grades by a certain age, and failing means getting left behind by friends, but I think having a system where people can freely progress at a pace that suits their learning ability would really be beneficial for students.

This is where I will connect this thought with the last one. In the last one, I talked about students that were not able to grasp the material no matter how hard they tried. But what if the grades were like levels instead of concrete yearly grades? These struggling students who try their very best would be able to have more time to focus on the things they would like to improve in and achieve that score they want instead of having to study extremely hard, not do as well as they would like, and start a new section without even fully understanding the last unit.

I could literally (no, I suppose not literally for those literal types) go on forever about this grade system, but in the interest of preserving space on the internet, I have chosen to stop writing in order to give you, the reader a chance to explore your own thoughts. This blog post really isn’t to sway you into thinking one way or the other, but rather to give you some food for thought. Agree, disagree, passive-aggressively comment all you like. You are free to have your own opinions and you are free to criticize mine. Make up your own mind, develop your own ideas. Thoughts are just that — thoughts.

TOK CONNECTION QUESTION: To what extent does having concrete differences between grade levels help or hinder the progression of education?


How do we know we’re productive?

So summer vacation has just started, and as a lot of other Hawaii teens, my summer so far has been filled with graduation parties (my school’s juniors and seniors are pretty tight), going to the beach, playing sports, and studying. But today after coming home from work, my dad commented to me, “aren’t you kind of wasting the day?” Usually, as a rather witty person, I would have come up with a counter for my father’s comment, but today I found that I couldn’t. Why? Because looking back on my day, I realized I had not left the house, barely made it to four of the rooms in said house, and the only worldly thing I did was watch a football match that was part of the FIFA World Cup. So why did this seemingly innocent comment make me a little upset when I knew that perhaps I had not done everything I could with my day? Well it didn’t; because it made me MORE than a little upset. But, on the bright side, when I get upset I usually go into my thinking mode, and thus this here blog post is being created.

Why did my father assert to me that I had “wasted the day?” Well I suppose because to him, who had just come home from a day of work, it looked (and he was right of course) that his daughter had done nothing productive with her day. Most people would question at this point why I would be getting more than a little upset at this simple assertion. My dad is technically correct right? Well now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I think he’s wrong. Yes, yes, the description of my day is VERY indicative of a “wasted day”. But within the next few sentences I’m going to try to show you why I think my father’s words could have been chosen with a little more care.

So I think I have established that today was not the most productive say for me, and that is certainly what my father saw. But what my father doesn’t know, or failed to acknowledge for that matter, is what I had been doing for the past 12 days that I have been on summer vacation. Let me see… Over these past 12 days, I have gone to 3 graduation parties, the beach twice, walked my wiener dog over an hour everyday, picked up a tennis racquet on a regular basis, and believe it or not, studied — yes, I am one of those students that rarely goes two days without studying (I actually have a study schedule planned out for myself). So I think I can confidently say that these past 12 days of summer vacation have been filled with productivity.

This got me to thinking about how different people perceive what “being productive” is. Like how do we know someone was “productive” today? Below is the dictionary definition of productive, courtesy of the Google Search engine (seriously just type in “define productive” and it pops up.

The definition I thought was most fitting for this blog is: achieving or producing a significant amount or result.

But I still don’t think this is a satisfactory answer. I mean… what is significant? Well I started to think about it, and I think this very definition of the term “productive” may have been what led me to be rather annoyed at my father. Thinking about my day, maybe my “be lazy and just relax” day was truly productive to me.

Alright. So I can concede that perhaps in the conventional way, my day was no where near productive, but I think in its own special right, my day today may have been the most productive day for me all summer long. All summer, I had not had a chance to really relax and let my mind go from the stress of finals and the rushed feeling that sometimes comes with summer that one must “live it up.”

So really, I don’t think it’s fair to consider a day productive or unproductive if one does not know the facts. I mean, by knowing a few key facts and understanding some different viewpoints, how we perceive the term “productive” can change very quickly. I suppose this can tie in to the class by helping to answer the question, “How do we know what we know?” and perhaps connect with the “sense perception as a way of knowing.”

In conclusion, I suppose me getting a little annoyed by my father’s lack of understanding was due to his lack of knowledge of my current sense. While his senses were telling him that his daughter did absolutely nothing with her day, my senses were telling me that it was this very doing of absolutely nothing was what made my day rather productive. Now, I can say that with this rather unusual productive day behind me, I am all the better for being rested, and can go back to being a more conventional type of productive tomorrow.

Wrapping Up TOK Year 1 – Written Style (Because that’s just who I am)

So I was planning to do this a little earlier, but what with the stress of final exams and the sheer amazing qualities of summer vacation, I haven’t had a time to sit down and write this. For my classmates that are reading my blog to make certain you did not miss an assignment (yes, I do know there are a few of you out there… some of you even tell me to my face) not to worry – this post is NOT PART OF CLASS. I just thought since ToK Year 1 is coming to a close, I would write up a little something about it, just because a large part of this class is blogging and I think it’s kind of a fitting way to end the first year of TOK. This being said, this post will be written relatively casually (kind of like I’m talking) with numerous conjunctions and idioms I would never dream of putting in a paper; as this is not a formal assignment, I just felt like this style would lend itself best to what I’m trying to accomplish. Now Ms. Burvall: if you have actually read this far, you do not need to continue; this is mostly for myself to gain a little closure (and of course to reflect upon) Junior year.

So this year in ToK, my brain was filled with hypothesis, questions and relatively odd solutions that constantly entertained me throughout the year. Coming into this class, I knew two things: 1. I am a very logical person, and 2. I really like things that have a single answer (ie. math, sciences, etc…). By hearing from upperclassmen, I knew that this class was almost the antithesis of my beloved #2, so I was not really certain how I would feel about a class with no definite answers. But, as the IB student that I am (hahaha…) I kept my mind open, and boy was in for a surprise. Although yes, the class did prove to be the antithesis of Kasey’s knowing things #2, I actually found it did not bother me at all and was one of the primary reasons that I enjoyed the course so much. The feeling… perhaps “liberating” would be sort of a close descriptor? The great thing about this course and this class was that every answer could be correct, but at the same time every answer could be incorrect. Maybe they could be both at the same time? This ambiguity really makes this course unique from other conventional high school courses. While other courses foster information memorization and application, this course… let’s people take their previous knowledge and add other people’s knowledge to their knowledge in order to help shape and change their perspectives. It’s kind of like taking a mish-mash of facts, opinions, theories, textbooks, speakers, emotions, and questions in order to synthesize something that the world has never seen before. And the great part is, no matter what conclusion you come to at the end, it’s not inherently wrong.

This year in TOK, this blog was a huge part of class. “Oh we have an assignment? More for the blog.” In order to make this specific blog post, I looked back through the blog posts, and was honestly a little surprised by how many posts I had made. I knew we have made a few, but I never expected to see pages and pages or writing, videos and links. I didn’t used to be a fan of blogs, but looking back I guess this blog has become an integral part of my high school career and I can’t bring myself to dislike it. Rather, I am relatively proud of all the work I put into this blog and am rather proud I can call this blog mine. I think it’s a really nice way to catalog all of the activities and such we do in class, and I think looking back in a few years, this blog is going to be really fun to look at.

Now this year in TOK we looked a lot at the “ways of knowing” or WOK. I thought it was interesting that these units were actually units, for I had never considered the different ways that humans come to conclusions. By looking at the various perspectives of different speakers and sources, I have come to realize that the question “How do we know what we know?” Is a lot more complicated that one would think. Pinpointing the origin of knowledge, finding the source of our knowledge is really philosophical and and interesting concept to think about.

As I wrap this blog post up, I guess it’s time for a few last minute thoughts that are popping into my head right now. So with this post, my Junior year in TOK class is over; wrapped up, finished, done. However, not to worry as I will be back next year in order to complete round two of the course. As I have gotten a little fond of this blog (as outline above) perhaps I will be posting some summer things that I find relevant to this course, as I have learned that “TOK moments” are truly all around us. This being said, I think those posts will constitute as something that is separate from this string of Year 1 posts, for they will probably take on a different kind of feel. With that note, I now officially end my first year in Theory of Knowledge class, and embark into TOK Summer and TOK Year 2.

TOK IA Outline

Outline Guide For TOK Oral Presentation

This should be done prior to completing the TOK Presentation Planning Document.  After completing this outline, you should be able to copy & paste and/or summarize text written here to that document.



Our main Knowledge Question is:

  • What is the relationship between the ways of knowing sense perception and reasoning in the creation of language?


Our real life situation that got us thinking about our main Knowledge Question is:

  • While sitting in English class, we had to analyze poetry, and I sat there for a few good minutes contemplating what makes a word have meaning; what makes a collection of squiggles on a paper have such an effect on society? That got me thinking about how languages are formed, and what circumstances must be present in order for a new language to blossom.



First Secondary Knowledge Question (this should be one of the knowledge questions or linking questions you developed that would contribute to a further understanding of your Main Knowledge Question — the number of secondary Knowledge Questions is dependent on the number of people in your group.  Repeat this frame for each secondary Knowledge Question):

  • To what extent is language a reflection on the concepts a society considers precious?


Claims/Contrasting Claims/Different Perspectives on First Secondary Knowledge Question:

1. Definition of Language

2. Looking at the world’s oldest languages

3. Untranslatable words2

4. Personal connection


How is each Claim/Contrasting Claim/ Different Perspective Supported by what we learned in the TOK textbook, classroom materials and activities, and class discussion?

  • 1. In TOK, we often learn to find the sources of knowledge, which is why I am choosing to define the word “language.” By defining it, it will help to create a better understanding of the term and thus gain a better understanding of how the concept came to be.
  • 2. Again, looking at the world’s oldest language will be like looking at the origins. This will set up a “way of knowing” for I will be looking at “how do we know what we know?”
  • 3. In TOK this year we explored untranslatable words, which shows the extent to which a society values certain concepts.


What are examples and stories that can help illustrate the claims and different perspectives you discuss for this secondary knowledge question?

  • Please see “perspectives”


How does learning about this second knowledge question help contribute to your understanding the main Knowledge Question and a possible response to it?

  • By understanding the circumstances necessary for a new language to develop, one must take into consideration the different ways of knowing we experience as humans. In terms of sense perception, it is our senses that enable us to determine what is important to us as a society, creating a necessity for words to be made. Furthermore, by comprehending the fact that the written and spoken word is a collection of symbols and sounds to make sense of the world around us, we understand the extent to which our senses help to guide us.


How is this secondary Knowledge Question connected to your Real-Life Situation?

  • This secondary knowledge question is connected to my real-life situation, for it shows the extent to which cultures have created languages that reflect their societal values. Because of our culture, because of our set of societal values, we can make sense of our worlds with language. A word is not a simple collection of sounds and symbols with meaning, but rather a complex system of sounds and symbols that originate from a desire to make sense of the world around us. Each word has its own origin and was carefully planned out in order to express the things that we value most.



What is your answer to your Main Knowledge Question and what implication does it have for your real-life situation?

Conclusion: Two necessities of language

  • Have a society with similar beliefs
  • Have a desire to express the world around one