If you don’t have a great knowledge question, scoring well in the TOK presentation is extremely difficult. Thus, it is vital to choose your question carefully. But where to start?
Little Geniuses has prepared a guide on forming a high-quality knowledge question.
The first step is to read a newspaper such as The Guardian, or The Sydney Morning Herald. Look for relevant articles - articles that involve information or knowledge: it could be a prediction, a misunderstanding, any communication, evidence for a claim, or a debate.
Here are some examples:
This article predicts, as of 11/11/16, whether Donald Trump will be impeached during his presidential term
This article discusses statistics on child abuse in the Catholic church
This article details a political, and more importantly, an ethical decision made by the Prime Minister about entitlements for former MP’s
Build a shortlist a of several articles that include these themes.
Next, think about whether there is engagement with different ways of knowing, particularly intuition, reason, emotion, and imagination. Could you consider the issues raised by the article more broadly, e.g. what is the relationship between emotion and the issues in the article? Or under what circumstances does the issue in the article engage more with reason or emotion? Remember to refer to the issues generally, and not specific factual situations detailed in the article.
Let’s use the same examples
Donald Trump impeachment: how and to what extent do emotion and reason interact when we make predictions
Child abuse in the Catholic church: how and to what extent can emotion shape the interpretation of data
Parliamentary entitlements: to what extent does emotion shape ethical decision-making
You can also rephrase knowledge questions 2 and 3, presenting the issue as a showdown between two ways of knowing e.g. to what extent does emotion vs reason shape ethical decision making? This narrows the scope of your presentation, allowing you to focus on two ways of knowing only.
Finally, you need to choose one question on your list and go with it. If you don’t have a gut feeling on which is the best question, try to draft arguments in response to it. After this exercise, pick the question that inspires the most promising claims and counterclaims.
Many other approaches exist to forming knowledge questions: some great knowledge questions do not mention ways of knowing at all, but weave this discussion into the claims and counterclaims of the presentation. A different approach might focus on areas of knowledge rather than ways of knowing.
If you need help in TOK, your next step is to contact Little Geniuses. We offer one on one support in TOK, and other IB subjects. We can help you find an appropriate real life situation, form a high-quality knowledge question, and plan your claims and counterclaims.