This first written assignments requires students, in the first weeks of TOK, to grapple with the distinctions between propositional knowledge and various kinds of direct experience. Students are on their own with this in-class written assignment. No previous formal class time has been devoted to introducing these ideas. The assignment represents a very gentle first encounter with TOK writing expectations. The students, unprimed in medias res, usually perform very well and emerge with confidence to tackle the more challenging writing assignments ahead.
A "Greatest Hits" collection of student responses is published from the written assignment as stimulus material for short discussion next time the class meets. This echoes the approach of capturing student ideas for later class discussion encountered in the Student Knowledge Claims session.
TOK WRITING ASSIGNMENT (Be succinct, but explain yourself carefully… Explore: I want to read your thoughts not some, closed definitive response… Contradictions may emerge. If they do I want to read about them
1. Imagine that you have sole responsibility to teach a coordinated five-year-old to ride a bicycle for the first time, without training wheels, in a twenty-minute window of time. Briefly, what would you say? What would you do?
2. Would the following advice help you at all in your attempt to teach the child to balance? Give reasons. "For a given angle of unbalance, the curvature of each winding is inverse y proportional to the square of the speed…"
3. Does a male obstetrician with many publicationsknow less or more about childbirth than a teenage mother who has just given birth to twins without pain-relieving drugs?
4 . In a single sentence distill what we can say about the difference between knowledge by direct experience (knowing how) and theoretical, propositional knowledge (knowing that). Base this on some or all of what you have just written.