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The Theory of Knowledge Essay

Notes from the IBO:
Instructions to candidates
Your theory of knowledge essay for examination must be submitted to your teacher for authentication. It must be written on one of the six titles (questions) provided below. You may choose any title, but are recommended to consult with your teacher. Your essay will be marked according to the assessment criteria published in the Theory of Knowledge guide. The focus of your essays should be on knowledge issues. Where appropriate, refer to other parts of your IB programme and to your experiences as a knower. Always justify your statements and provide relevant examples to illustrate your arguments. Pay attention to the implications of your arguments, and remember to consider what can be said against them. If you use external sources, cite them according to a recognized convention.

Note that statements in quotations in these titles are not necessarily authentic: they present a real point of view but may not be direct quotes. It is appropriate to analyse them but it is unnecessary, even unwise, to spend time on researching a context for them.

Examiners mark essays against the title as set. Respond to the title exactly as given; do not alter it in any way. Your essay must be between 1200 and 1600 words in length, include a cover page, be double spaced and typed in size 12 font.

Note for the 2015 Titles: The TOK Staff has made some suggestions about accessibility of titles. Those in green we believe are most accessible given our curriculum here at DCS, those in yellow more difficult and those in red could be very challenging. You are of course welcome to choose any title you like, we are just trying to give you a little guidance :-)
Titles for May 2015 Candidates


1. There is no such thing as a neutral question. Evaluate this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.



2. "There are only two ways in which humankind can produce knowledge: through passive observation or through active experiment." To what extent do you agree with this statement?


3. "There is no reason why we cannot link facts and theories across disciplines and create a common groundwork of explanation." To what extent do you agree with this statement?



4. With reference to two areas of knowledge discuss the way in which shared knowledge can shape personal knowledge.


5. "Ways of knowing are a check on our instinctive judgments" To what extent do you agree with this statement?


6. "The whole point of knowledge is to produce both meaning and purpose in our personal lives." To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Titles for May 2014 Candidates

1. Ethical judgements limit the methods available in the production of knowledge in both the arts and the natural sciences. Discuss.

2. “When the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems begin to resemble nails” (Abraham Maslow). How might this apply to ways of knowing, as tools, in the pursuit of knowledge?

3. “Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organisation of facts.” Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge.

4. “That which is accepted as knowledge today is sometimes discarded tomorrow.” Consider knowledge issues raised by this statement in two areas of knowledge.

5. “The historian’s task is to understand the past; the human scientist, by contrast, is looking to change the future.” To what extent is this true in these areas of knowledge?

6. “A skeptic is one who is willing to question any knowledge claim, asking for clarity in definition, consistency in logic and adequacy of evidence” (adapted from Paul Kurtz, 1994). Evaluate this approach in two areas of knowledge.


FINDING EXAMPLES FOR YOUR TOK ESSAY - link to nothingnerdy wiki activity


A GROWING LIST OF ADVICE FOR TOK ESSAYS

TRANSITION WORDS TO IMPROVE YOUR TOK ESSAY WRITING SKILLS

Assessment Criteria

Key Deadlines

Resources


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- there's good advice in here!