Personal & Shared Knowledge Intro Lesson

This lesson is designed to be taught to a Grade 11 class, very early in the ToK Course.

The aims of the lesson are to:
1) Introduce the framework of Personal & Shared Knowledge, and to locate categories of knowledge within that framework.
2) To develop an understanding of PK-SK as a continuum, which can be context & intention dependent.
3) To build a foundation for an understanding of Knowledge Construction.

The lesson is a continuation of an earlier lesson on Knowledge Categories.

Where does PK end & SK begin?
1. Start by asking students to write a description of their experience of learning something (ideally outside of the classroom), like learning how to ski, sail, play rugby, play piano. It could be more individualised, such as learning how to get to their Grandmother’s House, or how to get their parents to agree to let them stay out late. The range of responses given will only serve to enrich the learning later on.

2. Show the students the SK/PK Model (ideas linked here – the basics will more than suffice), and ask them to identify in their own learning experience the parts which are SK, the parts which are PK and the parts which are both.
Feedback, check for understanding, start to get them to question these distinctions.

3. SK / PK and value of knowledge.
Ask the students to consider which is more valuable – SK or PK ? Can they identify when one may be more valuable than the other ? How might we define the ‘value’ of PK or SK ?

4. SK / PK – can we make an argument that all knowledge is SK ? Can we make an argument that all knowledge is PK ?  What evidence might we draw upon ? Why does it matter ? I’ve played out my own little scenarios linked here, none of this is exhaustive nor exclusive.

Depending on the context of your class you could introduce the dialectic of Rationalism vs Empiricism at this point. Rationalism favouring SK, and Empiricism favouring PK, at least in how they could be set up as a basic duality. Students could then be asked what the implications of these philosophical screens are for big issues such as conflict, climate change, human happiness etc etc