The ToK Essay: Writing with a SEXCI style
Having recently glanced through our copy of The Oxford Union Society Guide to Schools’ Debating,* we came across a section entitled ‘Argumentation (SEXI)’ which explains a ‘technique for thinking about arguments’ – ‘[SEXI] stands for State, EXplain, Illustrate’:
“ ‘State’ means simply to say what your team believes, ‘EXplain’ means providing the logic and reasoning for why that statement is true and ‘Illustrate’ means providing evidence to show that the ‘EXplanation’ is not just theoretical but that there are instances where it is so…”
It occurred to us that a TOK essay might be thought of as presenting an internal debate or dialogue which loosely follows this technique. Now this is nothing new to IB teachers who have taught Philosophy for a number of years. A few years ago, one of the assessment requirements was for students to write a Socratic dialogue on philosophical issue.
Now we’re not suggesting that TOK students write an essay in the form of a Socratic dialogue (although it’s been pointed out to us that there’s nothing in the marking criteria to prevent you from doing this). What we are suggesting is that the Oxford Union’s idea of a debating technique of argumentation might, with one or two adjustments, give you a framework to write the main body of your TOK essays.
S = statement or knowledge claim
E = example or evidence to support the claim
eX = explanation of how the example/evidence is relevant or supports the claim
C = counter-argument (which follows the ‘statement – example – explanation’ procedure above)
I = implication (So what? If we accept all this, what follows? What connections can we make with the other ideas about knowledge? What is the Knowledge Issue?)
The first four parts of the process would make one paragraph of an essay and other paragraphs would utilize the same format with the final point (I) being the opening statement or knowledge claim (S) to start the next paragraph…
It’s the C and the I parts that build in the TOK element to your essay.
A worked example will follow.
*BAILEY, J. & MOLYNEAUX, G., The Oxford Union Society Guide to Schools’ Debating, Oxford Union Society, Oxford, 2005.