Essay Title #1 May 2016: Gaining Knowledge & Networks of ideas

Essay Title #1 May 2016: Gaining Knowledge & Networks of ideas

This is not the exact essay title – I can’t write the exact essay title here (it’s copyrighted, IB may issue a DRM Takedown notice if I put the exact title up here). – Students should ensure that they get the exact title from their teacher.

You can watch my YouTube thoughts about this essay title here.

The link to a Prezi for this title is here.

Thoughts about this title:

Gaining – students need to decide what is meant by the term ‘gaining’. There are a number of possible interpretations, including:

  • Knowledge developed through formal academic research processes.
  • Knowledge which is gained through experience (a sort of empiricist approach).
  • Knowledge moving from the personal sphere to the shared sphere.

I will return to this theme later in this post.


The concept of a network, in the title, can be approached in a number of ways.

Function – Networks can operate in both parallel & serial ways. Networks may share a number of functional needs to both use and outcome – this could open up interesting debates around artifact vs utility in gaining knowledge.

Value – networks can place higher value upon some channels (in this case WoKs) than on other channels. – There is a potential for discussion about where, how, and most importantly why  value / emphasis is placed upon some WoKs in preference to others.

Knowledge Framework

Each AoK has a specific Knowledge Framework – students should really spend time looking at the KF.

A good way to approach the essay would be to start with the Knowledge Framework of the chosen AoKs, specifically the methodology section for the chosen AoKs. These are included in the ToK Course Guide, students should ask their teachers for the guide if they are yet to receive it. The Knowledge Framework links the methods specific to each AoK with the underlying assumptions, values, historical context. The KF then gives a clear steer on how the methodology links to personal knowledge.

Taken through the lens of the Knowledge Framework this essay is really rather straightforward, students just need to explain why their chosen AoKs place more emphasis on specific WoKs, but then show the interplay of all the WoKs. Students should illustrate this discussion with real life examples.

Such RLS could be:

  • How the use of particular WoK in an AoK led to the development of new knowledge.
  • How the individual student’s experience moved from PK to SK, explain using network of WoKs.
  • The interaction of WoKs across 2 or more AoKs in order to give us ‘new knowledge”. For example Charles Booth’s Poverty Maps of London exist within the AoKs of Human Sciences and Maths. The maps gave us new knowledge within the disciplines of Economics, Sociology and Geography. The knowledge was ‘gained’ using Reason, Sensory Perception and Language as ways of knowing.

Knowledge Questions.

The Knowledge Questions need to be at the heart of your essay. Don’t cite one at the beginning, and then fail to return to it in the essay. The KQ should provide the heart and structure of your essay – you should be linking back to it throughout.

If you need more help writing knowledge questions then check out my Really Easy Guide to Writing KQ’s.

Some examples of KQ’s for #1:

  • In what ways does the network of WoKs used in knowledge acquisition influence the knowledge gained ?
  • Why does a WoKs influence in knowledge acquisition vary according to the AoK considered ?
  • How do the underlying assumptions of an AoK influence the network of WoKs pertaining to that AoK ?

You should devise your own KQ’s, use ones which are useful for you, don’t just copy mine. If you use your own KQs, which are meaningful to you, you will write a better essay.

Enjoy your ToK Writing !



10 thoughts on “Essay Title #1 May 2016: Gaining Knowledge & Networks of ideas

  1. Hi, thank you always for useful tok lessons. I would like to know whether I can use 3rd AOK for counterclaim for this essay title. It’s saying that “reference to 2 AOKs”. Does it mean I am allowed to use only 2 AOKs for whole essay? What do you think?

    1. You are in danger of losing focus in your essay if you bring in additional AoKs. The safer approach to the essay is to stick to 2 AoKs. However, discuss this with your ToK teacher as a 3rd AoK may be fine given the structure of your essay.

  2. Thank you for useful TOK examples and lessons. By the way I want to know and can you say me what is the meaning of ‘network of knowing’ exactly? Why network is important?

    1. Terms like ‘network of knowing’ are very much open to your own definition, however I would take the ToK Study Guide’s definition of Shared Knowledge as a starting point.
      You ask why a network is important – again it depends on the argument that you formulate as to whether it is or not.

  3. Hello! Is there any kind of knowledge which does not require a network but a single WOK, if so what is it called? (I want to use this argument as my counter claim)

    1. Hi, it really depends on how you define knowledge, and how you define network. You will need to have flexible definitions to enable you to develop RLS in which you come to know something through only one Single WoK. I can certainly see this working for emotion and intuition.

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