Sorry but this form will not work without cookies enabled. Please adjust your browser settings to enable cookies to continue. For more information on how to do this please see ourPrivacy & Cookie Policy.

  • Truly International

    We have students from over 50 different countries at our school, making us a truly international family.

    British International School Bratislava - Truly International

  • Inspiring and Passionate

    Dedicated, motivated and highly professional, all of our staff at The British International School Bratislava are here to ensure that every child thrives.

    British International School Bratislava - Dedicated staff

  • Excellence & Achievement

    Learning at BISB focuses on academic rigour and achieving great results but also on developing individualised skills and talents, enabling students to be successful in all areas of learning.

    BISB Admissions

  • High Quality Learning

    Our passion is education. We help to prepare young people of all ages to embrace the challenges that life brings and the international global society in which their future lie.

    British International School Bratislava - Start your journey

  • Start your journey with us

    We are proud of our growing family of parents, teachers and socially-confident students. We’d love to welcome you too!

    British International School Bratislava

  • Unique Opportunities

    We enrich your child’s learning experience with opportunities beyond the ordinary.

    British International School Bratislava

  • Did you know?

    You can still purchase the BISB cookbook made by our wonderful PTA.


Theory of Knowledge

13 February 2015

Theory of Knowledge is the most exciting, intellectually challenging and significant class in the IB Diploma Programme. This bold, provocative claim needs some substantiation.

Some of you will know that Theory of Knowledge, or epistemology, is a branch of philosophy concerned with how we know. While TOK at IB cannot pretend to be a detailed study of philosophy, it is philosophical in nature, in as much as it asks students to reflect critically and to think deeply about how they know; how certain this knowledge is and can be. TOK is not a subject to be taught, but a cross discipline enquiry.


In class students contemplate how knowledge is made in each of their subject areas, considering the scope, methods and validity of knowledge as well as developing an understanding that the Ways of Knowing – sense perception, reason, intuition, memory, emotion, imagination, language, faith are interconnected. While this may seem rather dry and pedantic on paper, in class, thankfully, it is otherwise. TOK lends itself to a wide range of teaching approaches to engage students in discussion and for these students to establish an intellectual position based on reason.


This week, for example, I am privileged to be hosting a debate between Mr Young and Mrs Wilcox on whether “The canon” in English literature should be taught. I imagine this will involve considering what makes a great piece of literature; which authorities decide this and how reputations are won and lost. But I may be wrong.


Last week Mrs Radoja showed students examples of “bad” art, leading to discussion of what makes art “good”, what the qualities we expect in a piece of art and why.


Mr Warmington has started discussions on the most complex known object in the universe, our brains, by asking students to guess how much a bag of sugar weighs. (Yes, the bag weighs about the same as an adult brain). This initial investigation into measurement opens up an arena of ideas in itself: Why we have measurements, the history of measurements, estimation versus accurate measurement, the use of measurement in science, etc. This then led to inquiries into neuroscience, what we know and are learning about our brains and how they work, and what we might never know about ourselves.


I myself always like to have a lesson on Freud, not only to consider his enduring idea of the subconscious, but also to examine how his methodology has been questioned, as well as demonstrating how science naturally produces paradigm shifts and revolutions in thinking. And, well, to be honest, I just think Freud, along with others, is a figure students should know about before they study at university. TOK is often about joining the dots, of looking at things from other perspectives and making connections.


With this in mind, it is easy to understand why universities like TOK, and students who have studied the IB Diploma Programme.


Andy Pheby