TOK is described by the International Baccalaureate (IB) as being at the “heart of the Diploma Programme”. TOK requires that students take a critical approach to knowledge and therefore it is also referred to as the keystone of the IBDP. TOK is a course about critical thinking and inquiring into the process of knowing, rather than about learning a specific body of knowledge. Students’ success in their IB subjects can be enhanced through engagement with the skills taught in TOK.
The May 2020 prescribed titles ask students to explore the ways in which knowledge is developed, how we understand our world and the ways in which we are able to describe, explain and justify all that we know. The first steps of Year 13's TOK essay journey took place in the Auditorium on Thursday 5th September as they sought to unpack the titles, identify the key concepts, and come up with some key questions. Among the highlights of the session were questions around title number 6:
“Present knowledge is wholly dependent on past knowledge.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.
A number of students raised points from their Group 4 subjects (those in the sciences), linking the question to the gradual development of knowledge, and the need to understand fundamental building blocks such as elements before undertaking deeper research. However, others pointed out that the existence of paradigm shifts in this area pointed to a more complex relationship between our current knowledge and that which we have accepted in the past.
The session itself was a wonderful chance to listen to students from different classes as they brought their perspectives together and explored some complex ideas and questions. It is pleasing to see such enthusiasm and engagement at the start of the process, and in the TOK team we hope to see yet another batch of excellent and thought-provoking essays.
Daniel Gamwell, Head of Theory of Knowledge