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Theory of Knowledge

Theory of Knowledge (ToK) is an essential component of the IB Diploma Programme for both Diploma and Diploma Courses. Students begin the ToK course in Grade 11 when they start their IB Diploma course.

What is ToK?

ToK helps students to reflect on the learning that they do in all subjects, and to answer the over-arching question:

“How do we know?”- In other words, how is knowledge gained and established within the different subject areas?

What type of knowledge do we gain in the different subject areas? How does knowledge come to be accepted by individuals and communities? Naturally, these types of question raise other personal and reflective questions: a ToK course will also discuss matters of religion, faith and ethics.

The IB expresses the aims and purpose of the study of ToK as being to:

  • Develop a fascination with the richness of knowledge as a human endeavor and an understanding of the empowerment that follows from reflecting upon it
  • Develop an awareness of how knowledge is constructed, critically examined, evaluated and renewed, by communities and individuals
  • Encourage students to reflect on their experiences as learners, in everyday life and in the Diploma Programme, and to make connections between academic disciplines and between thoughts, feelings and actions
  • Encourage an interest in the diversity of ways of thinking and ways of living of individuals and communities, and an awareness of personal and ideological assumptions, including participants’ own
  • Encourage consideration of the responsibilities originating from the relationship between knowledge, the community and the individual as citizen of the world.

In simple terms, the student (‘knower’) is at the center of what we do. All aspects of the course should cause the student to reflect upon not only his/her learning, but the values, culture and experiences which inform his/her way of looking at the world and acquiring knowledge about it, and others.

How is ToK assessed?

Throughout the course, ToK will feature on your child’s school report alongside the other IB Diploma subjects being taken. The ToK teacher assesses the student in a variety of different ways. These include:

  • Evaluating the student’s contribution to class discussion; participation in lessons (for example, stating a point of view effectively and with respect to others, is essential in ToK)
  • Evaluating the student’s preparedness for class –ToK calls for students to read around the subject and evaluate the ideas of others. Homework assignments may not always involve writing.
  • Reading the student’s ToK journal. At AIS, we require students to keep a journal comprising their own independently gathered resources, and their thoughts about them. These serve to demonstrate that the student is engaging with the subject, and they may provide useful material for the formal assessments later on.

Requirements

Each student is required to complete a ToK essay (up to 1600 words in length) and a presentation (of approximately 10 minutes, excluding discussion time). The results of these two assessments work in combination with the student’s Extended Essay grade to provide a maximum of three additional points on the IB Diploma.

Students are made aware of the essay titles early in Grade 12, and should begin thinking about them as soon as possible. Students must choose their title from a list issued by the IB.

Students have more freedom to choose topics of their own in the presentation – as there is no prescribed list. The student may formulate a task which connects to any topic of interest to him or her, and which has relevance to ToK. It must be based on a real-life situation.

Students will receive advice and guidance about both of these assignments from their ToK teacher.

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