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Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) allows students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. It is one of the components of the DP core and is mandatory for all IB students. The TOK requirement is central to the educational philosophy of the IB Diploma Programme.

How is TOK taught?

The IB Learner will inquire into different ways of knowing, such as sense perception or reasoning and examine these through different areas of knowledge such as history, ethics or human science to name a few. TOK will also be referenced throughout the IB Diploma Programme by the subjects that are chosen.

TOK is composed almost entirely of questions, which should be examined through open ended dialogue. The most central question is “How do we know?”, while other questions would examine evidence allowing the learner to make judgements on the validity of sources. It allows learners to be critical thinkers when reviewing different models and how specific theory can be applied to the real world.

Through discussions of these and other questions, students gain greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions, as well as developing an appreciation of the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives.

Assessment of TOK

The TOK course is assessed through an oral presentation (33%) and a 1600-word essay (67%). The presentation assesses the ability of the student to apply TOK thinking to a real-life situation and should be no longer than 30 minutes in length. This is internally assessed and verified by a review from an IB examiner.

For the TOK essay, the IB learner selects one essay title from six prescribed essay titles that are produced by the IB in September prior to submission for examinations in May. Students will develop the title to ask knowledge questions, then apply how knowledge is acquired/ developed from different areas of knowledge and ways of knowing inan open-ended manner.

What is the significance of TOK?

TOK aims to make students aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases – whether these biases are retained, revised or rejected. It offers students the opportunity to reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and on areas of knowledge. Students consider the role and nature of knowledge in their own culture and in the cultures of others from around the world.

TOK offers opportunities for students to be aware of themselves as thinkers, encouraging them to become more acquainted with the complexity of knowledge. Students are encouraged to recognise the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected but uncertain world allowing them to apply their knowledge with greater awareness and credibility.