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Knowers Perspective Tok Essays

How to do a TOK presentation?

Saturday, October 13, 2007    

A TOK presentation is another important component of this course. One third of your final grade is based on the presentation, so you should really try your best.

This year we have to film all our presentations and send the films to the IB for assessment, so it is particularly important that we have high quality presentations. What would a really good presentation be like?

To get an idea of this we will firstly look at the assessment criteria. In my next post I will show you some video samples produced by IBO and comment them. But now let's look at the assessment criteria of presentations.

Your presentation will be assessed using four different criteria:

  1. Identification of knowledge issues

    An excellent presentation identifies a knowledge issue that is clearly relevant to the real life situation/contemporary problem

    Lets imagine you would want to a presentation on Is globalisation ethical? How could you link such a 'big' topic to a real life situation?

    You could start by researching the idea of globalisation and ethical debate around it. In about 2 minutes I was able to find an interesting New York Times article through news.google.com regarding rights and wrongs of globalisation. This contains real life information about globalisation, such as what people in different countries think about it.

  2. Treatment of knowledge issues.

    An excellent presentation shows a good understanding of knowledge issues in the context of real life situation/contemporary problem

    Does globalisation have anything to do with your life or is it just a big concept?

    Let's think about it.

    Did you buy ice coffee today in Flintstones? If you did you supported a multinational coffee company which most likely pays peanuts to coffee farmers in Colombia. That was an ethical decision on your part with global impact although you were just wanted to have a cup of ice coffee. Same logic applies to many other products you consume.

    Tell me what globalisation and ethics mean for your life. Tell me what they mean to those farmers in Colombia. Tell me what they mean to that big multinational company? Give me your interpretations. Get it?

  3. Knower's perspective

    To get an excellent grade you should provide arguments and examples, show an individual approach and demonstrate why your presentation topic is significant.

    Again your personal voice is being emphasised. You should actually try to argue something. A presentation that just lists pros and cons of globalisation is unlikely to get a very high grade. What do you think? Are some examples of globalisation you have covered in your presentation, in you mind, right or wrong. Tell me why you think they are right or wrong?

    Select examples that are interesting, topical, relevant to you. Talk about a Julio who is a 14 year old boy working on coffee plantation, not only sales figures of Nestle and some fair trade companies. Give a story a face.

    So what? What is the significance of me knowing all this about coffee trade? So what if child labour is used in China to produce Nike shoes I am wearing? Can you make a connection? Your purchase may be supporting a company that is expoiting someone somewhere. Does this make you think twice about consuming these products ... how about buying fair trade coffee instead?

  4. Connections

    An excellent presentation shows how the question (and I do want your presentation titles to be questions!) could be approached from different perspectives and considered their implications in related area.

    The ethics of globalisation topic could, for example, be approached from perspectives of the individual farmer, the consumer, the economic development.

    An important part of the connections section is that you link your presentation to knowledge issues i.e. ask yourself: how can we know? is this knowledge reliable? In this case of coffee trade issue ... am I just believing fair trade propaganda, or is there really something to argument that big coffee multinationals are exploiting farmers? Should I instead believe the multinationals when they claim they are providing job opportunities and creating wealth by their investments?

    Be critical about the sources of information you use. Tell where you got the information and if in your mind this information is trustworthy.

    When you draw your conclusions try to justify your claims as well as you can. Try to make your arugment such that it mostly appeals to reason, i.e. it makes sense to believe what you are saying.

“The knower’s perspective is essential in the pursuit of knowledge.” To what extent do you agree?

Again this invites us to contrast and compare personal with shared knowledge. It asks us to consider what drives the production of shared knowledge – is it the  agency of pioneering individuals or the incremental outcomes of collaboration? (or a mixture of both?).

  • To what extent does Personal Knowledge drive and form Shared Knowledge?

The IBO TOK guide has something to say on this issue….

Links between shared and personal knowledge Clearly there are links and interactions between shared knowledge and personal knowledge. These are discussed in more depth in the knowledge framework.

Consider the example of a scientist such as Albert Einstein who has contributed much to modern physics. Clearly, he had some personal qualities that enabled him to see further than some of his peers. He had personal knowledge, a way of looking at things perhaps, that he was able to use to propel his exploration of the difficult questions that characterized the physics of the early 20th century. But his insights had to go through a thorough process of review before being accepted as part of the shared body of knowledge that is the discipline of physics.

There were disciplinary-specific methods that placed demands on Einstein’s thought. For example, his ideas had to be logically consistent, had to conform to previous experimental findings and had to go through a process of peer review. They also had to provide predictions that could be independently tested and verified (for example, the predictions made about the visibility of stars normally obscured by the sun in the solar eclipse of 1919). Only then could Einstein’s vision become an accepted part of physics. This illustrates how personal knowledge leads to advances in shared knowledge.

The reverse process can and does occur. Shared knowledge can have a big effect on our personal view of the world. Not only do the familiar areas of knowledge impinge on our personal experiences—someone studying economics might regard everyday shopping in a different light as a result of studying economics— but shared knowledge as membership of our cultural, ethnic, gender and other groups might influence our world view. This is what we call perspective. Membership of such groups provides a horizon against which the significance of the events of our lives is measured. Acknowledgment of such perspectives is an important goal of the TOK course.

From an individual perspective, shared knowledge often appears in the form of an authority—a source of knowledge whose justification is not immediately available to the individual. An example here is the authority of medical science to the patient who is not trained in medicine.”

You may want to consider the Great Man Theory or watch the three short films entitled “Everything is a remix” which argues against the myth of the genius and asserts that the process of innovating inherently involves plagiarism.

At times in human history there are trailblazers; iconic figures whose thinking radically alters shared knowledge. Let’s list a few Rosa Parks, John Snow,Picasso, Einstein, John Locke, Miles Davis,Captain Beefheart, Charles Darwin (in the news), Karl Marx, Confucious. But could they really have achieved what they did without relying on the groundwork of their predecessors or the efforts of their peers? We attribute the monumental success of apple products to the individual efforts of Steve Jobs, but is this really the truth?

Sometimes though individuals are prone to cognitive bias or fallacies. Individuals views are coloured by their culture, their experiences and the views of their immediate family.

The need to define which AOKs

It would be a good idea (as with all the essays) to define the parameters of your essay. The titles are so broad that you need to limit the focus down and explain in your introduction how and why you intend to do this.

Perhaps you could do a comparative study of the extent to which the knower’s perspective is important in different AOKs.

  • Consider the necessity of the knowers perspective in the pursuit of knowledge in Maths compared to say, The Arts. Arguably the the importance of the individual perspective is more prevalent in the process of developing knowledge in the arts than it is in Maths or Science. But this generalization is ripe for scrutiny! Is it always so or are there any interesting exceptions you could point to?
  • Does the question depend on what WOK the knower is using? For instance is the knowers perspective more or less important in the pursuit of scientific knowledge than in The Arts?
  • Is there a different answer depending on which AOK we study? Is the knowers perspective more valid when they use reason rather than intuition in the pursuit of knowledge?
  • What do we actually mean by the word perspective? Is such a perspective formed by experience, genetics, culture and or tradition?
  • Does the essay title require us to look at the comparative benefits of subjectivity and objectivity?

The following questions could be raised about the Knower’s Perspective:

Knower’s PerspectiveQuestions raised
AssumptionsTo what extent is the knower aware of their own assumptions?

Does the knower’s assumptions influence the language in which they express their ideas?

ValuesWhat are the knower’s views on how the world and people should be?

What guidelines (moral, religious etc..) does the knower have?

What are the knower’s goals for learning?

ClaimsWhat processes does the knower employ to examine knowledge claims?

Does there exist a neutral position from which to make judgments about competing claims? – link to May 2015 Essay Title

ValidationWhat methods are used in the validation of knowledge? – this can be approached from each area of knowledge

Resources and ideas

Cognitive bias

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