Middle Years mini-lessons

Middle Years ACT mini-lessons

Our Middle Years mini-lessons enable any teacher to run thought-provoking learning activities, link their subject to contemporary issues and events, and encourage students to challenge their assumptions about the world.

The mini-lessons are based on stories featured in the middle-years newsletter, so you can access them by subject below, or by date.

Access the Middle-Years mini-lessons

The Middle Years mini-lessons are available to Faculty members of the site. To access them, click on the images below to take you to the relevant lessons for your subject.

The 8 comparative concepts

One of the central aspects of the TOK course is the 12 key concepts. These are ideas that have been identified as having a particular significant relationship to knowledge. Understanding, exploring, and using these concepts will help students to understand the way knowledge is produced and used, within all the different elements of the TOK course – the core and optional themes, and the areas of knowledge.

In order to prepare students to tackle this central aspect of the TOK course, we have selected 8 of the 12 key concepts, linking them to the stories we feature in the primary and middle years newsletter. We call them the comparative concepts, and you can use them to generate questions, discussion points, and research tasks, and enable students to explore ideas across the curriculum. Examples of these questions are below – but feel free to come up with your own ones!

Being certain

In which subjects are we able to make the most and least certain claims about knowledge ? Why does this variance exist? Does language allow us to be more certain about knowledge? Can certainty bring disadvantages in terms of our understanding of the world?

Cultural contexts

How does the nature of the subject areas differ in different cultures? Do mathematics and science transcend cultural differences? Do the arts deal with culturally universal concepts?Does the way we understand the world depend on the language we speak?

Using evidence

What role does evidence play in the different subject areas? How has technology changed the way we gather and use evidence? How does the selection of evidence shape our understanding? Does evidence support or challenge our assumptions about the world?

Staying objective

Which of the subject areas deal with the most/least objective evidence? Is mathematical knowledge completely objective? Can we be objective about the arts? Has technology allowed us to produce knowledge more objectively? Do our political and religious affiliations always undermine our ability to be objective?

Shifting perspectives

Which of the subject areas are most and least affected by different perspectives? How do our religious and political perspectives shape the way we view the world? Do our perspectives determine our language use? What forms our perspectives, and should we seek to escape them?

Power & agendas

How does power affect the way knowledge is produced within the subject areas? In what ways can language be used to consolidate power as ideas are communicated? How does political and religious power influence the way we understand the world?

Accessing the truth

In which of the subject areas is it easiest to access the truth? Is mathematics the only subject area that deals with truth? Has the development of technology allowed us to access the truth more easily? Does language help or hinder us from accessing the truth about the world?

Knowledge & values

What is the relationship between the development of our values and the subject areas? Which of the subject areas deals most intimately with values? Does the way we use language have ethical implications? Does the possession of knowledge bring with it certain responsibilities?

Are you a GCSE school? Use the MY newsletter to kick-start your HPQ!

If your school offers the GCSE, and your students do the Project Qualification, you can use the newsletter as a ‘kickstarter’ to help them find a topic, and get it off the ground. 

Any newsletter story could form the basis of a great project, and our questions and suggested activities will help students approach it in an analytical way. So, if it’s an exploration of how we make public health decisions, whether we should follow a relativist or absolutist approach to morality, how global disparities contribute to the climate crisis, or how to tackle the problem of online disinformation – you’ll find help here!

Develop your students’ authentic critical thinking

Our in-school & online workshops are engaging, inspiring, and jargon-free, and leave TOK and non-TOK teachers with practical takeaways that they can implement easily in their classrooms.

We can help you with a wide range of issues and topics related to the TOK course, and help you turn your students into authentic critical thinkers who make sense of the world in a nuanced and objective way. Find out more and book a session here.