I chose not to do a knowledge and politics unit because the topics and issues I would have covered overlapped with the Knowledge and the Knower, and the Knowledge and Language units. Below are some resources that you will find posted on other pages but fit nicely with the K and P theme.
Whenever discussing language in TOK, one cannot avoid discussing George Orwell or the concept of Orwellian language. Though it is outside the time I (we?) have in TOK, it is worth having kids read his famous novel 1984 in some capacity or at least excerpts. I haven’t had the chance to make something yet. The book ties together so many of the concepts discussed above. This is particularly relevant when we so often fight about the use of language.
Here is his famous essay, Politics and the English Language
The essay is lengthy and I’ve abbreviated it in a hand out you can download here.
Biased Language and Word Choice in the News
This is a good activity in which different groups of students evaluates how language and word choice are central issues in a given news story or headline. This is a good introduction into conversations around language and politics.
Here are some various web resources I have tagged “Orwell”
Frank Luntz and Language
Frank Luntz is a popular American pollster but also famous for helping the Republican Party hone its messaging and use of language in the 1990s and 2000s. He authored a famous memo on messaging the “War on Terror.” One can argue with the ethics of what he did (intentionally tying 9/11 and Iraq in people’s minds without ever explicitly making the connection for example) but his work was devastatingly effective. This memo made for much better discussion teaching TOK 10 years ago but I think is very interesting to still study.
Image of Luntz now discussing messaging on discussing climate change.
And another article about Luntz, climate change, and language
Translating Amanda Gorman
This past year, I juxtaposed part of Ken Liu’s post script with some of the controversy surrounding Amanda Gorman (the poet who spoke at Joe Biden’s inauguration). The controversy stemmed from the identities of those people chosen to translate her work into other languages. Does the identity of the translator matter? How effect does it have on the quality of the translation? Is quality able to be measured objectively?