Real Life Situation in TOK: Everything You Need To Know in 2022

January 9, 2024

real life situation

This guide covers everything you need to know about Real Life Situation in the Theory of Knowledge course.  You will learn:

  • What Real Life Situation is
  • What makes a good Real Life Situation and
  • How to pick a Real Life Situation for your TOK assignment  

IB students must pick and discuss one Real Life Situation for their TOK assignment.

While an RLS is not the major emphasis of the lecture, it provides the framework for TOK students to investigate knowledge issues.

What is a Real Life Situation?   

A Real Life Situation can be anything, from an experience to an event to a contemporary issue, provided it’s concrete and identifiable. You can take it from a subject you’ve studied exhaustively, from your personal experience, from a community or school, or from an internal concern.

The Real Life Situation must not be hypothetical, historical, or ambiguous.

Real Life Situations were common in TOK presentation.

However, TOK has since replaced the presentation with the TOK Exhibition, which also necessitates changes in our perception about RLS.

These days, Real Life Situations are relevant in bolstering arguments and demonstrating concepts in the TOK curriculum. 

How to Choose a Real Life Situation 

The first step in selecting a Real Life Situation is to identify an area of knowledge where the situation would apply and a way of knowing most relevant to it.

Additionally, it won’t matter where you get your RLS as long as it fits the following parameters.

1. Make Your RLS Compelling

Consider three individuals when selecting a Real Life Situation for your Theory of Knowledge.

These are your audience, your examiner, and yourself.

It is appropriate to choose a circumstance that is intriguing on all levels because doing so goes a long way toward including all stakeholders in the analysis of the knowledge issue associated with the selected RLS.

2. Make the RLS Controversial

Along with being precise, succinct, and engaging, ensure that you explore a contentious RLS. In other words, the subject should elicit discussion from the outset.

With a controversial Real Life Situation, it becomes simpler to generate different points of view as well as competing points of view.

Additionally, it enables the analysis of a topic from different perspectives through the utilization of appropriate Theory of Knowledge techniques.

3. Your RLS Should Be Relevant

If the Real Life Situation enables you to explain how an overall analysis is applicable to a context larger than the current situation, you should incorporate it into your analysis.

By selecting such a Real Life Situation, you elevate your work to a much higher level and obtain full points.

4. Keep Your RLS Simple

Instead of choosing a scenario that requires extensive explanation, choose a more concise and specialized circumstance involving a knowledge issue that you can simply discuss.

Your RLS might also be a situation in which you have a firm footing, particularly if it’s something based on personal experience.

Assume your TOK instructor has assigned you to research an aspect of IB Psychology.

If you've previously explored what men and women seek for in a spouse, it should be easy to identify simpler themes to examine.

You can end up with a knowledge issue such as how far society measures complexion and what effect such notions have on an individual.

Examples of Real Life Situations and Related Knowledge Issues

The table below illustrates some Real Life Situations and the associated knowledge problems that IB students can draw inspiration from – or investigate further in their TOK essay assignments.

Real Life Situation
Knowledge Issue  / Knowledge Question
The assassination of the 35th US President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy
In what way can we separate myth from reality in history?
The relationship between cumulative smoking and cancer
In what way does emotional hinder or contribute to our understanding of correlation?
The 1,178 artworks of Salvador Dali
How much do we need to know about an artist to recognize and understand his or her art?
India changing the name of some of its cities
To what extent do labels affect our perception
Making History a compulsory subject  in school to students 16 years and under
To what extend should teachers rank academic disciplines based on their usefulness?
The end of cold war according to the song Wind of Change
In what way does art affect our perception on current events?

The above is not a complete list. You may simply build on it to discover further RLS and associated knowledge problems to investigate.

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Final Thoughts on Real-World TOK Situations

The most effective method of planning your Theory of Knowledge assignment is to begin by selecting a Real Life Situation.

Given that the RLS acts as the beginning point for the assignment, it is critical to consider the aforementioned characteristics when deciding on the Real Life Situation to use and the Knowledge Question to investigate.

Once you've chosen a straightforward, succinct, captivating, and contentious Real Life Situation, it should be easy to create a strong and convincing analytical presentation on a particular knowledge topic.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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