ToK to Life, ToK to Reality. – Introductory lesson 2

This is the second introductory lesson for teaching a G12 / DP2 / Y13 ToK group as a new teacher to group. The first lesson in this series can be found here.

Learning Intentions:

I can develop Knowledge Questions and Knowledge Claims from Real Life Situations.

I would start this lesson by playing Soul II Soul’s 1989 Club Classic Back To Life.


1. Using the ‘Really Easy Guide to Knowledge Questions‘ explain to students what a Knowledge Question is.

2. Ask students to write down 5 real life situations that have interested them. If they can’t think of any then they could choose from my list at the end of this page, or you could give them your own examples.

3. Students to write 5 knowledge questions for each of their real life situations. (examples of RLS converted to KQ can be found below)

4. Share and discuss the quality of the devised KQ’s.

5. Introduce the ToK Presentation Diagram (examples here and here (IBO Guide)).

6. Ask students to choose their ‘favourite’ KQ, and to develop 2 consequent KQ’s from the original, and associated RLS in exemplification.

7. Students to present positions for and positions against their original KQ, and to find evidence to exemplify their points.

At this point students could start to develop their work into their first ToK Presentation. Distribution of ToK Assessment Instrument, and TK/PPD form is imperative if they are to start working on their presentations at this point.

Some examples of Real Life Situations which could be of interest, use these as examples that students could develop into KQ’s

1. There have been repeated sightings of UFO’s in the Mojave Desert since the late 1940’s. This could possibly indicate that earth is being visited by non-earth based life forms.

2. Some people have developed resistance to diseases which are fatal for many such as HIV and Ebola. Is this modern day evolution of humans ?

3. Research shows that company CEO’s are more likely to display psychopathic tendencies. Does this mean that compassion and care are attributes of weakness in business ?

4. Research shows a strong correlation between reading proficiency in young people, and later exam success. Therefore, are parents who don’t place emphasis on reading with their children guilty of neglecting their child’s future ?

5. The French ban on the Burqa and Niqab.

6. Affirmative Action in admissions to US Colleges. An article for Affirmative Action, and an article against (Warning – I consider this article very inflammatory, anecdotal and uses language which some may find offensive).

7. Can military intervention in other countries be considered humanitarian ?

8. Rising air pollution: should cars be banned ?

9. Is the Football World Cup worth the loss of 1,200 lives ?

10. Is this ‘The Asian Century’?


RLS converted to KQ (from Theory of

Building Bridges with Language

Real life situation: Arabic to be made mandatory in all Israeli school
Knowledge question: To what extent does language shape thought and behaviour?

Freedom or Knowledge?

Real life situation: The Wikileaks disclosures about Western governments’ foreign policy
Knowledge question:  In what ways could Ethics advise on the amount of knowledge accessible to the general population?

Sourcing our Food

Real life situation: Monsanto and genetically engineered food
Knowledge question: Who should decide on the part played by natural science in our lives?

Righteous Anger

Real life situation: President Obama allowing a Muslim community centre to be built near Ground Zero
Knowledge question: In what ways do Human Sciences, and RKS, allow us to judge concepts such as multicultural tolerance?

Art and its Audience

Real life situation: Joshua Bell busking in New York City
Knowledge question: To what extent does context inform the way we interact with the arts?

Prime Time News

Real life situation: The Manila tourist bus hijacking
Knowledge question: In what ways can we measure realism in knowledge  in the Arts ?


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