Commenting on past TOK essays

When reading the 2 essays I noticed that two authors had a different level of understanding related to their focused area of knowledge. This meant that the one with the greater understanding of both the nature and nuances of their area of knowledge was able to make stronger, and more original claims regarding their question. I noticed that the essay related to ‘robust knowledge’ had more of a story to it. Because the writer had a better grasp of the nature of science and art she was able to present a development in idea throughout the essay, it was more like an account of how she was thinking. An example of this was the transition¬†paragraph at line 59. Using a simple transition such as ‘similar to science’, she showed that she sees the connections between science and art, and when she goes on to talk about consensus and art versus science, she is able to make a powerful statement about how it is not needed in arts as much as it is in science. Whereas in the other essay there was more of a description rather than anylysis as a result of a surface level understanding of the areas of knowledge.

This leads to the next difference, choice of examples. Both essays provide examples, but the use of the examples to build/ justify a claim have been achieved to varying levels in the two essays. For example, the essay about robust knowledge makes good use of the examples. They start by making a certain claim about the movie ‘V for Vendetta’ and then move onto highlighting the consensus and disagreements on the film, they then go onto analysing it. In the other essay, the first example used is a question posed in different contexts and rephrased, although it highlights their point to a certain extent, they were not able to get enough out of it believably justify their claim. I think this is because they did not explore examples that counter their claim, and just connecting back to the topic of consensus and disagreement, an argument is made stronger after it has been disagreed to and then proven right.

Although this might not be part of the criteria, the essay about ‘robust knowledge’ was well crafted and subtle, this made it powerful and easier to absorb. The other essay was also well written but compared to the former, it was more explicit in it’s writing style, and sometimes that can make the work less interesting to read.

The reoccurring point in all of this is that to write a good essay, you have to have a deeper understanding of the areas of knowledge in order to pick meaningful examples and make meaningful analysis. It is pretty clear when someone has a deep understanding of a topic through the way their ideas and claims advance and connect, this was well portrayed in the essay about ‘robust knowledge’.

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One Comment

  1. Nick Reply

    Thanks Aarushi. I hope reading the essays gave you a good feel for things – more so than looking at the criteria. You hit the nail on the head when you say that knowing the Areas of Knowledge is key. I hear a lot of students say that TOK is just waffle/BS but I think you can see when a student really knows what they are talking about.

    The criteria cannot really capture what you say when you write about ‘subtle’ but I know what you mean. It’s about recognising other viewpoints – not necessarily agreeing but being aware that there are a *range* of views and treating them with genuine respect and engagement.

    Well done; another good post.

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