Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is an integral part of the IB curriculum. ToK is an interdisciplinary requirement intended to stimulate critical reflection on the knowledge and experience gained inside and outside the classroom in all subject areas. The course challenges students to question the basis of knowledge and to be aware of subjective and ideological biases. It is a key element in encouraging them to appreciate other cultural perspectives. Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is designed to bring coherence to the IB Diploma Programme.
ToK is placed at the heart of the IB curriculum because it aims to expand students’ critical thinking skills. It seeks to provoke deeper understanding of the subject matter that the students are undertaking and to expand upon their perspectives. A key to success in developing critical thinking skills is active participation, which means attendance is essential.
It is through participation that students develop their voice and approach to TOK thinking skills. Needless to say, participation implies an open minded and nurturing atmosphere that promotes students being able to discuss different points of view in a non-threatening environment.
Throughout the course, students develop the ability to analyse and develop clear arguments in support of the claims about knowledge. There are informed discussions about the nature and purposes, strengths and limitations of the traditional academic disciplines. For example, students are encouraged to reflect on the nature of poetic truth in literature and to contrast such truth with that obtained in other systems of knowledge - the historical fact, the scientific fact, a mathematical proof and so on. They also examine the grounds for the moral, political and aesthetic judgements that individuals must make in their daily lives. Emphasis is placed on the role of language and thought and on the development of the student’s critical thinking skills. Discussions involving teachers and students are integral to the programme. It is through these exercises that students are encouraged to consider how they know what they know and to develop habits of reflection, which they bring to each subject.
The IB assessment of student performance is based on written and oral work. The student is required to submit one essay between 1200 and 1600 words. The essay is based on one title selected from a list of prescribed essay titles published in advance and distributed to schools. The essay is worth 40 points and is assessed by IB examiners. There is also an oral presentation component worth 20 points, which is assessed by the teacher but is subject to external moderation by IB examiners. Students who do not take the IB Diploma undertake the same assessment tasks, both of which are assessed by the teacher.
Throughout Grade 11, students will explore different ways of thinking and areas of knowledge. They will be expected to write three practice essays and do one practice oral presentation.
In Grade 12, students will write their final ToK essay (to be externally assessed) and have one final oral presentation (to be internally assessed).
The more students engage themselves with this course, the more they will enjoy it!