Thoughts on the May 2018 TOK prescribed essay titles
Due to copyright issues, we are not allowed to reproduce the May 2018 TOK essay prescribed titles on our site – and you should not be able to view them on any reputable non-IB accredited site. But you can obtain them from your TOK or IB Diploma Coordinator.
Here we offer a few thoughts on the key words that need pinning down in the different titles, and we link each title to one of our Big Questions. If you are a member of theoryofknowledge.net, and have access to our Big Question framework, then you’ll be able to access lessons, ideas, and articles that will help you to tackle the PTs. Our free TOK newsletter also provides 8 different real life situations each month, which may help you to support your arguments and analysis with examples.
Find out more about our Big Question Framework here, and become a member of theoryofknowledge.net (unlocking access to our BQ lessons and resources) here. You can also get in touch with us by using the contact form at the bottom of the page.
Prescribed title 1
Key words to pin down ‘Fields of study’; ‘overlap’; ‘interdisciplinary approaches’; ‘confusion’.
Links to Big Question 3: CONNECTIONS. In this BQ, we look at the way in which different areas of knowledge and ways of knowing interlink, sometimes in a positive way, sometimes in a negative way. We focus on the relationship between reason and emotion, and even more relevantly for this prescribed title, we look at how the work of artists can help (or hinder) us from understanding ethical concepts. Within this BQ unit, we provide many links to articles and sources that look at how to apply the methods of one discipline to other areas of knowledge.
Prescribed title 2
Key words to pin down ‘Confidence’; ‘To know little’; ‘doubt’.
Links to BQ8: AUTHORITY FIGURES. In this Big Question, we look at what makes someone an expert knower, and the characteristics one needs to have in order to call oneself an ‘authority’. We look at the levels of certainty that ‘expert’ knowers need to have, and whether Socrates was right to rank method above content when it comes to knowing. Within this BQ unit, we provide many links to articles and sources that look at whether confidence is a prerequisite or an impediment when it comes to knowledge production.
Prescribed title 3
Key words to pin down ‘Assumption’; ‘existence of uniformities’; ‘knowledge’.
Links to BQ1: REALITY CHECK. Although this Big Question focuses on ways of knowing (sense perception and memory), it encourages students to think about the extent to which we assume we are interacting with reality when we use our senses to learn about the world, and when we access our memories to retrieve past experiences. Within this BQ unit, we provide links to articles and sources that look at the legitimacy of our assumptions, or what we can safely base our knowledge on.
Prescribed title 4
Key words to pin down ‘Suspension of disbelief’; ‘essential feature’.
Links to BQ6: PERSPECTIVES. In this Big Question, we look at how the perspective that define us shape the way we understand the world. These perspectives may be defined in a variety of ways – one of them could be our ability (or lack of) to ‘suspend our disbelief’, or be less eager in applying skepticism. Within this BQ unit, we provide links to articles and sources that explore the role of our mindset in shaping how we view and comprehend different areas of knowledge.
Prescribed title 5
Key words to pin down ‘Quality of knowledge’; ‘academic discipline’; ‘duration of historical development’.
Links to BQ2: PURPOSE & VALUE, and BQ7: DEVELOPMENT. In these Big Questions, we look at how and why knowledge (including its ‘quality’) develops over time and how we can assess the ‘value’ of knowledge. Within these BQ units, we provide links to articles and sources that include comparisons of different areas of knowledge, allowing students to evaluate the role of historical development in creating valuable knowledge, and whether there is a correlation between length of time and quality of knowledge.
Prescribed title 6
Key words to pin down ‘Robust knowledge’; ‘consensus and disagreement’.
Links to This PT links to many of our Big Questions, as case studies on consensus and disagreement form the basis of many aspects of our exploration of TOK. These include the debate between Paul Bloom and figures like Barack Obama over the role of empathy in ethics (in BQ4), and Steven Pinker versus John Gray over whether human society is progressing or not (in BQ6). Within these BQ units, we provide a large number of links to articles and sources looking at well known knowledge debates, and the effect they have on the production of knowledge.
If you have any questions about the essay, how the PTs relate to our Big Question framework, or how to join theoryofknowledge.net, contact us using the form below. We’ll get back to you very swiftly.