The following materials will be uploaded in order to explain practical techniques for incorporating critical thinking skills through questions, usually phenomenal and moral, used in teaching the subject ‘Theory of Knowledge.’

1. Introduction of questions
2. Process of answering
3. Application

Critical Thinking (CT) via Theory of Knowledge

Although Theory of Knowledge (TOK) has becoming a widespread subject in schools, practical usage of how to develop skills that TOK was originally designed for are sparse. If TOK is to become important, teachers need to be aware of TOKs purpose and techniques to teach. This class is one example that directs students to critically question the world around them.

In studying Theory of Knowledge (TOK) with students, I have found that although it is interesting and fun for students to dabble with basic philosophy, students need to know why they are engaging in such a subject. From my experience, students can use critical thinking skills (CT) to arrive at fuller and more reasoned opinions, which can then be discussed logically, in order to be further broken down. The aims of TOK are to not only study about how knowledge is derived, but a logical and practical approach as to expand one’s speaking turn, so that more analytical and deeper discussion can take place, with the overall purpose of searching for truth. This class introduced the concept of myths. Although, myths are not really looked at in any great detail, the process of the class channels students into how to question other everyday statements. Students also question why they need to question things and practical ways to arrive at better, more reasoned opinions.

MYTH

The class flow

Perception                         Critical thinking                           How to breakdown a myth

Fun Group work                      Approach                                           Practise

  1. What are myths? Why do we have them? The pictures that were shown were simple pictures, such as the Loch Ness Monster, an angel, gold at the end of a rainbow, etc. These questions show students simple myths to think about. The purpose of these pictures is to open up discussion as to, firstly, who believes in the pictures, and then to ask ‘why’? Students firstly put up their hands as to whether they believe, or not. There is a mixture of students who believe and don’t, therefore the discussion is ready. However, how do students participate in discussion with their partners? The discussion would only be “I believe,” or “I don’t believe.” In order for students to strengthen their opinion, it is necessary for students to know how to gather information that may strengthen why they think what they do. 
  1. Look at pictures of NZ / Japan ghosts. How different are they? What makes something a myth, or truth? In this stage, two ghosts are put up on the screen. One of them is from Japan and the other is from the USA. The students are asked why the pictures are different. The students usually answer that culturally, ghosts are different. This is the first stage of students realising that what they think is culturally perceived.

You will also watch another perception video. You will try to find out how the illusion is done. What is the point of watching this video? In this stage, the video shows students that explaining how something is done is heavily language dependent. How somebody explains is culturally determined, as well as word dependent. In this stage, culture and language indicate that perception is variable.

At each stage, it is important for teachers to question students as to why they are trying to answer these questions about myths. This questioning provides a focus for students. It provides practical reasons as to why TOK is useful to develop critical thinking (CT) skills. The questions are written below with brief answers provided. 

Questions

  1. What is critical thinking? – to judge if we are receiving the truth and balance, etc.
  2. Why do we do it? – to find the truth.
  3. What skills do you need? – knowledge, language, balance, listening, etc.
  4. How do we get these skills? – debate, discussion, reasoning, etc.

Once the students have attempted to answer these questions, the teacher should then illustrate how to build a logical response to the original question ‘do you believe in ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster, etc. This stage is building knowledge. Building knowledge is both objective and subjective, but a brainstorming activity that collects simple answers based on the questions below provides a good starting point. The students can get answers to the questions below, which they can then build upon and question in their own time. Basic research skills on the computer provides students with essential information for further critique later. The process is outlined below. 

What is the approach to analyse a myth?

How……is / was the myth communicated?

C.T. APPROACH

Where …is / was the myth?

When …is / was the myth?

Who …says / said the myth?

What… is / was the myth?

Why…is / was the myth made?

Students are now given some more questions to think about. The questions have really changed from being myths to ordinary everyday questions. The purpose here is to put a TOK question and draw it into everyday life. The first question is amusing, the second may be sensitive to some fans of ‘Arashi.’ The third question is getting more serious. It is in the third question that the language needs to be broken down, so that students have to query “peaceful.” The last question is a sensitive question that may provoke more controversy from students, or teachers, who are involved in either sport’s clubs, who go to cram school, or who distribute homework. 

  1. “Funashi is Japan’s number 1 mascot.”
  2. “Arashi are unoriginal.”
  3. “Japan is a peaceful country.”
  4. “The purpose of school clubs, cram school, and homework is to control children.”

Go through the discussion stages in rotations.

The discussion stages will be outlined in a following post. (There are 8 stages in total.)

Students’ own questions from everyday life.

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