TOK Badge: Sense Perception By: Beka Havlinek

Synesthesia through the life of a Literature Teacher

To what extent is our understanding of the world shaped by our senses?

Textbook Knowledge

Sense Perception: only 5 senses, not feelings or opinions

  • 5 senses are important when it comes to knowledge, and it adds active structure rather than passive
  • Our perception consists of two parts: sensation and interpretation
  • Visual illusions can help us become consciously aware of interpretation, which normally we are not aware of it
  • Perception is selective; depends on varying factors like intensity, contrast, interest, mood, and expectations
  • We distinguish between appearance and reality by using evidence, coherence of information, and other people’s testimonies
  • Our sense-organs determine how we experience the world
  • Three main theories regarding the relationship of perception and reality: common-sense realism, scientific realism, and phenomenalism


February 7, 2017: We picked to do our experiment on synesthesia because it intrigued us and interested us in how and to what extent someone’s sense perception affects how they understand the world around them. My goal for today’s presentation is to show and explain to the class to what extent our world is shaped by our senses and to interest them in the complex knowledge of senses and how many different factors influence life. It was interesting for us to realize that everyone, no matter if they have synesthesia or not, perceives the world differently and we cannot as an individual understand how someone else perceives it. My personal goal is to learn from my classmates. After the presentations: I learned a lot about sense perception and how it can affect many different aspects of life and how we understand the world. The other groups did very different and interesting experiments as well that looked at various parts of senses and how they are perceived by others. Two of the groups talked about how one sense can affect another, like if we are expecting one thing but then receive another this can affect how we act and respond to the stimuli. This was interesting to see and participate in because it showed the connection of senses and how our senses greatly impact how was react and respond in certain situations.

February 3, 2017: Today we are going to work on our project, we planned on talking to Ms. K and asking her questions that we created last class. Before going to talk to her we should come up with a few more ideas and questions to ask so we are prepared and can get the most out of talking with her. I learned more about Synesthesia and it was interesting to see and take the tests that see if a person has synesthesia. I also learned about several different types of synesthesia and how it can affect how a person sees the world and perceives the world. We came up with some more questions and possible follow-up questions that we can ask during the interview. We also decided on how we will present the information to the class and in what order we should introduce our project. We did not interview Ms. K today because she was busy but we set a time for Monday during clubs to interview her. Next time, we need to ask her the questions and then creating the video that we will show in class.

February 1, 2017: Today we started out by asking questions about the upcoming quiz and then taking the quiz over chapter 5 on sense perception. I enjoyed talking about the topics and discussing with my classmates which helped me learn and gain more knowledge about these topics. Then my group decided on our project to interview our English Lit teacher who has synesthesia. We brainstormed possible questions that we could ask our teacher and how we can relate it back to sense perception. For the rest of class we researched and learned more about synesthesia and the different types of it, we put this information onto a google doc which will help us when formulating more questions. We also discovered that the type that our teacher has is very rare and that only 0.2% of the population has it. This information that we learned will help us when we interview her and ask questions.

In-Class Reading Journal:

In class we read a text by Annie Dillard which describes a scene that she is experiencing and she heightens her senses in order to take in everything around her. I think it is very interesting when she says "I'm blind as a bat" after she realizes that there is no way for us to fully take in everything that is happening around us at all times. Instead, we have to focus on specific aspects and that means we will miss other things. This relates to sense perception in how each individual perceives what is happening around them and what they are taking in. Text: Dillard, Annie . “Illumination.” Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The Annie Dillard Reader. 296-308. Harper, New York. 1994. Print.

Extension Reading:

This link is to an article talking about "lexical-gustatory" synesthesia, the specific type that our literature teacher has. This article helped us learn more about this type of synesthesia and gave us insight into how researchers study and understand it. This relates to our project and to sense perception by giving us insight into the understanding of our senses and of the world.

"Every time I read, it is like a feast."

Knowledge Questions:

  1. What possibilities for knowledge are opened to us by our senses as they are? What limitations?
  2. How, and to what extent, might expectations, assumptions and beliefs affect sense perceptions?
  3. To what extent do our senses give us knowledge of the world as it really is?

These knowledge questions relate to our project by helping us understand sense perception through synesthesia. Each questions opens up different aspects of sense perception and gives us new ideas about how to question our knowledge of the world. For example, the first question can be unique to synesthesia in which how that opens up different possibilities for knowledge and understanding of the world. The connection of two senses (taste and sight) lets someone understand what they are perceiving differently and gives them unique knowledge. Although, this unique understanding also can cause limitations because, like Ms. K stated it can cause a barrier between two people trying to understand the same knowledge.

People with a type of synesthesia where they associate colors with numbers might see the picture on the right, whereas people without synesthesia will see the picture on the left.

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