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Mar 08 2019


Greg Choi

On one fine recent Thursday afternoon, Grade 11 Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Visual Arts students took center stage for a special debate that was one for the ages! Two groups, appropriately named "Team Censorship" and "Team Freedom," sharpened their pencils (and minds!) to answer the following motion to their best ability: Does society have the right and the responsibility to censor art in the interests of moral and ethical correctness? Various examples of famous and well-regarded artists from different industries (Kevin Spacey, Richard Wagner, Caravaggio, etc) were presented to be discussed and researched. In front of a panel of judges consisting their TOK teachers, the two teams battled it out to see who could develop the strongest argument based on logic and concrete evidence, and then present it as clearly and convincingly as possible.

According to Ellie Flesher, IBDP Business Management and TOK Teacher, the purpose of this debate was "to showcase Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and the depth of critical thinking it can bring to different areas of knowledge. In a world where knowledge is widely and easily accessible, we hope that all students can integrate TOK in their classes and daily lives. 'How do we know what we know? It is OK that we know through one particular method?' These are just some of the many questions TOK aims to answer." Indeed, the teams answered numerous questions posed by the opposing team to challenge each other and try to win the upper hand.

Throughout the event, both teams presented strong arguments for their position regarding the motion, convincingly answering questions such as whether people can assess art without considering the morality of the person who created it and in the ways the morality of the artists affect our interpretation of the art made. At times, there were moments of heated arguing, but overall, the students were polite and courteous until the very end. Richard Todd, Secondary School Visual Arts Teacher and one of the judges, stated, "The students showed how they are the leaders of the future; eloquent, informed, passionate yet mannered and respectful in their discourse. It was one of the most impressive student debates I have seen." All members of the audience on the day would certainly agree.