Epistemology Activities

“Everybody Knows That…”

Writing a poem riffing on the line “everybody knows that …” filling in the end of the sentence over and over with things that you may or may not take for granted to be true. Come back to the circle to share your poems and discuss why you chose the things you did. How do we know these things? Does everyone agree that each piece of “knowledge” is not debatable? Are there any disagreements? Why?

Slanted Truth

  1. Read “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” by Emily Dickinson (1263). You can find a discussion guide for this epistemologically interesting poem on my Epistemology Poems page.
  2. Following the Community of Inquiry, or to introduce the discussion, have a go at writing your own truth told “slant!” Have each child pick a topic to write a poem about, but don’t explicitly tell us what the subject is. For example, if the poem is about the dog I grew up with, I would write the poem without once using the word “dog.” If the poem is about a dream I had, I would convey the ideas or the scene without using the word “dream.”
  3. Come back to the circle, and make sure that everyone gets a chance to share their poem. Some questions to consider as a group:
  • Did everyone immediately know what the poem was about? How so, or why not?
  • Can we usually/ever know exactly what the poet was thinking about when the poet composed the poem? How or why not? Should we? Why or why not?
  • Is it better to know something right away or better to have to think about it for a while? Why?
  • Can one poem tell everything there is to know about a thing or being? Why or why not? Should we try? Why or why not?