A Blessing or a Curse? Adjustments Made to the ToK Presentation Schedule

by Fiona Haze

As many of the 11th graders have noticed in the HS assessment calendar, Theory of Knowledge (also referred to as ToK) presentations are coming up at the end of May. Presentations are scheduled to take place between the 25th of 28th. However, unlike last year, the Juniors now have a choice whether they want to present at the end of their 11th grade year or if they want to postpone their presentations to their first semester of their Senior year. 

The ToK textbook, dropping knowledge. Photo by Fiona Haze.

Warrior News reached out to Mr. Merritt, a ToK teacher for more information regarding this matter. When asked about the changes made to the schedule of the presentations due to virtual learning, Mr. Merritt states that “some of the biggest changes have to do with time. During this time period, there tend to be more interactions between teachers and students. It’s just a natural consequence of being in the same room at the same time. The change in the number of minutes per class has had an impact also.”

Mr. Merritt continues by explaining the impacts of virtual learning: “As a result of this, there was an anticipation that some students would get less support than they really needed to complete this well. Consequently, we made an adjustment to the process that allowed students to wait until the Fall for their first presentation. Also, Mr. Taylor and I will have an arbitrary date where we’ll consider the progress made on answering knowledge questions in order to allow certain presentations to move forward for the Spring. Of course, this means that we would determine that some presentations aren’t ready yet. Those students will be asked to wait until the Fall. In both cases, students who wait are able to use what they’ve already developed in the Fall.” 

How will this affect the students? Mr. Merritt believes that for the students who do not get the opportunity to present twice, “they’ll not get that experience to learn from”. Other than this, Mr. Merritt says that the largest influence on the students has to do with “less time interacting with these concepts in a classroom setting.”

When asked about advice for the 11th graders relating to their ToK presentations, Mr. Merritt told Warrior News that students should share their ideas and request critical feedback. Also, exploring your thoughts and ideas through discussion with others is helpful. Mr. Merritt states that: “Too often students get into conversations looking for a particular answer or want to fill a gap in their presentations. So, instead of having a potentially insightful discussion, their experience is narrow and focused. Open up and share your ideas in the hopes that someone else might see things differently. Explore!” 

Mr. Taylor, another Theory of Knowledge teacher at ASW, agrees with all of the statements made by Mr. Merritt.

Warrior News also reached out to students in the class of 2021 for their thoughts regarding the matter. 

Grete M. (11) believes that it was a good change to adjust the due dates of the ToK presentations. However, she tells Warrior News that “[students] should be able to present twice if you choose to do it next year” instead of this year. She continues by stating that she doesn’t think that the opportunity to redo the presentation should be “taken away just because [students]  have the option to do it in the beginning of next year.”

Grete M. (11) is planning to do her ToK presentation next year. She has chosen to do this because she “had a lot of work already in this month” and did not “feel like I had enough time to come up with a ToK presentation.” She thinks that if she had the opportunity to start earlier in the development of the presentation, this could have helped her. 

She ends the interview by telling Warrior News that she believes that she is just as nervous as with anything else, especially since students have “never had a test” before in ToK. 

Sara F. (11) also thinks that the “teachers took the right approach” when providing students with an option for when to present, “because there are a lot of unprepared students.” This is due to the fact that the 11th graders only have ToK twice a week (due to the new HS schedule) and it is “difficult for the teacher to be teaching content”. She also states that creating the presentation is more difficult now since students don’t have normal class with the teacher: there is a difference between virtual meetings “and actually being able to go meet with [the ToK  teacher] after school or during the morning, lunch or break.” 

Sara F. (11) has chosen to do her ToK presentation this year and is currently trying to get her outline “approved by this Friday [15th of May]”. She is doing this because she believes that she is going to “have a lot of work to do when we come back in the fall”. 

Sara F. (11) continues by telling Warrior News that she is “extremely nervous about the ToK presentation because it is not something small.” She motivates this by saying that the ToK presentation is the first “real, summative assessment” in the course. 

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