November 2020 TOK essay titles


 
The November 2020 TOK prescribed essay titles are currently being written by Southern Hemisphere schools, for a deadline in mid-September. On this page we offer a few thoughts on each of the PTs.
 
We discussed these thoughts in our annual N20 TOK essay webinar, which can be accessed here. Below the key words we think need pinning down in the introduction of your essay (see to help you with your introduction), the links to the BQ framework that we use to teach the course, and one or two consideration points to bear in mind as you write your essay.
 
The ideas you see here roughly correspond to the initial unpacking session that you will have had with your TOK teacher. You’ll then go on to have three face-to-face with your teacher, in which you’ll discuss your progress in writing the essay, working through any difficulties and challenges you experience.
 

PRESCRIBED TITLE 1

Make sure you pin down
• Disagreement
• Resolved
• Equal attention to both sides
• Circumstances

Links to
• Intro to TOK
• Representing reality (BQ5)
• Perspectives (BQ6)
• Development (BQ7)

Bear in mind
• What’s the difference between valid and right, valid but wrong, and invalid?
• Free society, free speech?

 

PRESCRIBED TITLE 2

Make sure you pin down
• Understanding something
• What if…?

Links to
• Intro to TOK
• Reality check (BQ1)
• Authority figures (BQ8)

Bear in mind
• Few words/terms to pin down
• What if… needs to be clearly and carefully handled
• Difficult to identify an assumption that can be challenged in this PT

 

PRESCRIBED TITLE 3

Make sure you pin down
• Too much
• Revolves around ourselves
• Most important
• Problematic

Links to
• Intro to TOK
• Reality check (BQ1)
• Purpose & value (BQ2)
• Knower/s (BQ4)
• Representing reality (BQ5)
• Perspectives (BQ6)

Bear in mind
• An egoistic or unescapable approach to knowledge?
• There’s a big assumption in this PT – What happens if you don’t agree with it?

 

PRESCRIBED TITLE 4

Make sure you pin down
• Process
• End result

Links to
• Purpose & value (BQ2)
• Knower/s (BQ4)
• Development (BQ7)

Bear in mind
• The journey is the destination?
• Is there actually an end process?
• How does value change over time?
• Is knowledge production just about a ‘process’ and ‘end’? Are there any other stages to it, or ways to conceive of it?

 

PRESCRIBED TITLE 5

Make sure you pin down
• Questions
• Depend
• Already know
• Do not know

Links to
• Reality check (BQ1)
• Purpose & value (BQ2)
• Perspectives (BQ6)
• Development (BQ7)

Bear in mind
• It’s difficult to argue against the statement in the title
Is it really possible to ask questions about things we don’t know?

 

PRESCRIBED TITLE 6

Make sure you pin down
• Reliable
• Lack certainty

Links to
• Intro to TOK
• Purpose & value (BQ2)
• Representing reality (BQ5)
• Authority figures (BQ8)

Bear in mind
• There are few words/terms to pin down, which makes it harder to set up parameters
• What constitutes ‘certainty’?
• How to define reliable?

 

More support for the TOK essay

 
Make sure that your TOK teacher has given you access to all the documents and online material that support the essay. These include the TOK Subject Guide, the TOK essay rubric, and exemplar TOK essays (found in ‘MyIB’, which is accessible to teachers).
 
Make sure you go through our other pages on writing the TOK essay. You’ll find help on understanding what the is looking for, that works for you, what each of the should focus on, how to an effective TOK essay, and how to fill in your .
 
If your school is a member of theoryofknowledge.net, we have designed a series of lessons on the essay, with two formative assessment tasks. These will familiarize you with the essay rubric, knowledge questions, real-life situations, how to deal with perspectives and implications, and structuring an essay. If you are signed into the site, you can access these lessons here.
 
You can also find out our thoughts on the TOK essay (and the TOK exhibition) in several webinars that we have delivered. The main one is the N20 TOK essay webinar, which you can access on this page of the site.
 

Ask a question

 
We’ll also be happy to respond to questions you might have on the TOK essay. We can’t, unfortunately, reply to all of these, but we will try our best to offer answers to the most frequently asked. Use the contact form to get in touch.