What is TOK?

 

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring shall be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. T.S. Eliot

 

What is TOK?

Students entering the Diploma Programme typically have 16 years of life experience and more than 10 years of formal education behind them. As a result of both their academic studies and their lives outside of the classroom, our students have accumulated a vast repertoire of knowledge and a wide variety of beliefs and opinions, a process that will continue at an accelerating rate throughout the two years of the IB. TOK, however, provides students with an opportunity to step back from this relentless process of acquisition and consider the knowledge they have gained in a new light.

 

TOK is a course that aims to encourage students to reflect on things that they have previously taken for granted; to critically re-evaluate previously trusted sources of information; to challenge previously held assumptions, prejudices and biases; to become more aware of the factors that have influenced their perspective and the perspective of others; to become more internationally aware, more culturally sensitive and to take a fresh look at the world around them and see it in a way that they perhaps have not considered before.

 

As such the TOK course is very different to all other IB courses. Some of the key differences are:

P         the syllabus consists of ideas and questions to be discussed rather than information that students have to learn;

P         the classroom atmosphere is intended to be one of shared discovery and discussion rather than one of instruction;

P         there is no final examination;

P         there is minimal assessment during the course consisting of one essay which is marked externally and one presentation which is marked internally;

 

In the words of the IBO The TOK course is a flagship element in the Diploma Programme which encourages critical thinking about knowledge itself to try to help young people make sense of what they encounter. Its core content is questions like these: What counts as knowledge? How does it grow? What are its limits?

 

TOK is not a philosophy course. Although philosophical or theoretical questions may be considered, the TOK course is grounded in the real world and we build on students own experiences and include them actively in the classroom by focusing on real life concerns, current affairs and the knowledge issues affecting the lives of the students involved.

 

 

Where does this fit in with rest of the IB?

Along with CAS and the Extended Essay, TOK forms part of the central core of the IB programme, as depicted below:

 

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In conjunction with the Extended Essay, TOK can provide the students with up to three bonus points that count towards their final diploma total in accordance with the following matrix.

 

 

 

Theory of Knowledge Grade

A

B

C

D

E

EE

A

+3

+3

+2

2+

Fail

B

+3

+2

+2

+1

Fail

C

2+

+2

+1

0

Fail

D

2+

+1

0

0

Fail

E

Fail

Fail

Fail

Fail

Fail

 

 

For example a student being awarded an A grade in both TOK and the Extended Essay will score three bonus points, as will a student who is awarded an A grade in one and a B grade in the other. In contrast, however, a student who is awarded a B grade for both elements will receive two bonus points while a student who is awarded C grades for both elements will only receive one. Bonus points often help students achieve the required number of points to enter their university of their choice.

 

One important fact to bear in mind is that attaining an E grade in either TOK or the Extended Essay represents an automatic failing condition for the IB Diploma.

 

 

What are the requirements?

P         All students are required to study TOK for a total of 100 hours over the course of the final two years at CDNIS;

P         In Grade 11 TOK is taught from just after the October Break until just after the Spring Break;

P         In Grade 12 TOK is taught from the start of the year until the October Break during which time students will produce the final presentation and essay on which their TOK grade will be based.

 

 

What are the benefits?

Participation in the TOK course should help students to:

P         develop a fascination with the richness of knowledge acquired across a variety of times and cultures;

P         make connections between a critical approach to the construction of knowledge, the academic disciplines and the wider world;

P         develop an awareness of how individuals and communities work together (or separately) to construct knowledge;

P         critically reflect on their beliefs and assumptions and their experiences as learners both inside and outside of school which will enable them to lead more purposeful and responsible lives;

P         understand that knowledge brings responsibility which leads to commitment and action.

 

 

And at the end?

Having followed the TOK course, students should be able to:

P         identify and analyse the various kinds of justifications used to support knowledge claims, including their underlying assumptions and their implications;

P         formulate, evaluate and attempt to answer knowledge questions by constructing reasoned, logical and well balanced arguments in defence of their point of view;

P         understand how academic disciplines / the areas of knowledge generate and shape knowledge;

P         understand the roles played by ways of knowing in the construction of shared and personal knowledge;

P         explore the links between knowledge claims, knowledge questions, ways of knowing and areas of knowledge;

P         demonstrate an awareness and understanding of different perspectives and be able to relate these to ones own perspective;

P         explore a real-life/contemporary situation from a TOK perspective in the presentation;

P         formulate and communicate ideas clearly with due regard for accuracy and academic honesty;

P         be comfortable sharing ideas with others and learning from what others think.