Extracting Knowledge Questions

 

 

The most important part of the planning for the TOK presentation is the extraction of the knowledge issue. If you get this bit right then everything else falls into place and so it is a very good idea to check your knowledge issue through with your teacher right at the start of the planning process to make sure that you don・t head off in the wrong direction.

 

What does .extraction・ mean?

To extract means to .pull out・ V you might have had teeth taken out or extracted, especially if you had braces fitted and the TOK syllabus uses the word in exactly the same way. Essentially, you need to pick a Real Life Situation and pull a knowledge question out of it.

 

What・s a knowledge question?

There・s no definite, clear cut answer to this but really good knowledge questions will often come in the form of very high level questions that talk about knowledge or how knowledge works. Many of the questions we discuss in class and that you write about in your reflections are knowledge questions.

 

The Four Different Levels:

One of the best ways of understanding what counts as a knowledge question is to begin by picking out things which aren・t knowledge questions, or at least aren・t very good examples them, and working up from there. One helpful way to do this is by using the following table. The table on the left explains what is going on while the one on the right is an example:

 

 

Real Life Situation

(An event in the real world at either a global, local or personal level)

 

 

Real Life Situation

The simulation of a Big Bang at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

 

Not A Knowledge Question

(Often this will be a very factual question and will sound like something you will study in one of your subject lessons)

 

 

Not A Knowledge Question

What is a Hadron?

(This sounds like a physics question)

 

A Weak Knowledge Question

(This will explore the current issue but will tend to lead to a GCSE style For / Against debate where one person argues one side of the case, their opponent argues the opposite and in the end they either compromise or agree to differ. Often weak questions will start with verbs like .will・, .can・, .do・, .is・, .have・, etc ...)

 

 

A Weak Knowledge Question

Will the LHC destroy the world?

(Simple Yes / No debate style question)

A Medium Level Knowledge Question

(This will begin to talk about knowledge more explicitly and will be a more open ended question without a simple for and against answer. Note however, that it is still tied too closely to the original real life situation )

 

 

A Medium Level Knowledge Question

How can we know the LHC is safe?

(The word know makes the focus more explicitly on knowledge and the question is more open, so it・s a good question, but we can take it one stage further.)

A Strong Knowledge Question

(This should be a question that explores knowledge and how knowledge works in an open ended way at a very high level V it needs to be high level so that you can compare the same issue from the perspective of different AOKs or WOKs. Often strong questions will start with words or phrases like .how・, .to what extent・, .in what way・, etc K)

 

 

A Strong Knowledge Question

Is there any knowledge that it is too dangerous to pursue?

(Notice how this question seems to have taken a huge leap away from the original topic of the LHC and this is what enables you to compare different AOKs V there could conceivably be knowledge that it is too dangerous to pursue in the Natural Sciences, but can the same be said of the Arts, History or Maths? Now this sounds like a really interesting question)