Middle ACT newsletter

Our Middle Years Newsletter is designed for students aged 11 – 15, and helps them to apply a critical thinking approach to the very latest news events and issues.

The newsletters comprise 8 classroom-ready ‘mini-lessons’, which can be used by a dedicated critical thinking teacher, by other subject teachers to apply a meta-thinking approach to their own subjects, or directly by the students themselves.

Access the MY newsletters

The Middle Years Newsletter – and our other newsletters – are available to Faculty members of the site. Purchase a membership here, then receive the newsletter every month, as well as having access to all our other resources for TOK.

Click on the image to access the first edition of the newsletter, to see how it supports authentic critical thinking for younger students across all subjects.

The 8 comparative concepts

The eight comparative concepts (which appear in a red font in this and other resources) are ideas that are particularly significant for us as authentic critical thinkers, and which appear commonly in the issues and events we explore. Being able to understand and use these concepts will help students to compare and contrast the knowledge within their different subjects, and mark them out as sophisticated critical thinkers.

You can use the comparative concepts to generate questions, prompt discussions, and set up research tasks. They can also act as the basis of student portfolios, EPQs, or HPQs. You can explore the eight comparative concepts in more detail via our dedicated resource here. Below you’ll see the eight comparative concepts, with examples of the kind of questions they prompt us to ask.


In which subjects are we able to make the most and least certain claims about knowledge ? Why does this variance exist? Does language allow us to be more certain about knowledge? Can certainty bring disadvantages in terms of our understanding of the world?


How does the nature of the subject areas differ in different cultures? Do mathematics and science transcend cultural differences? Do the arts deal with culturally universal concepts? Does the way we understand the world depend on the language we speak?


What role does evidence play in the different subject areas? How has technology changed the way we gather and use evidence? How does the selection of evidence shape our understanding? Does evidence support or challenge our assumptions about the world?


Which of the subject areas deal with the most/least objective evidence? Is mathematical knowledge completely objective? Can we be objective about the arts? Has technology allowed us to produce knowledge more objectively? Do our political and religious affiliations always undermine our ability to be objective?


Which of the subject areas are most and least affected by different perspectives? How do our religious and political perspectives shape the way we view the world? Do our perspectives determine our language use? What forms our perspectives, and should we seek to escape them?


How does power affect the way knowledge is produced within the subject areas? In what ways can language be used to consolidate power as ideas are communicated? How does political and religious power influence the way we understand the world?


In which of the subject areas is it easiest to access the truth? Is mathematics the only subject area that deals with truth? Has the development of technology allowed us to access the truth more easily? Does language help or hinder us from accessing the truth about the world?


What is the relationship between the development of our values and the subject areas? Which of the subject areas deals most intimately with values? Does the way we use language have ethical implications? Does the possession of knowledge bring with it certain responsibilities?