About IB Theory of Knowledge

Information about IB Theory of Knowledge

Course Description:
Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is the antithesis of a content-based class. The
purpose is not to cover material…rather to uncover it. To take all the ‘facts’ we’ve
learned throughout the years and evaluate them for validity, all the while acknowledging
that we may not necessarily know what that is. What’s more, to interrogate our perceived
knowledge and valued paradigms, as not to obliterate them but rather to appreciate that
everything is open to question.
The initial aim of Theory of Knowledge is to acquaint students with four ways of
knowing: emotion, perception, reason, and logic. These ways of knowing will then be
used as the backbone for inquiries into the many areas of knowledge. TOK attempts to
provide a critical cohesion to the fractionalized knowledge students receive in high
school- to use these building blocks and mold them into a thoughtful creation. It is also
very much a purpose of this class to embrace the insecurity and discomfort we all feel
when we don’t ‘know’ something. In turn, we must also overcome the desire to make
knowledge claims as symbolic badges of intelligence. This deprogramming is an
essential centerpiece of the TOK puzzle, and one in direct opposition to most societal
norms. It is less about giving the right answers than asking the right questions.
TOK seeks to distance itself from the classic distribution of the high school
classroom in many ways. First and foremost, to stress that it is the student’s responsibility
to evaluate knowledge, not the instructor’s responsibility to disseminate it. The student is
accountable for inquiring, not acquiring. Secondly, to have students trust that the formula
for success is not appeasing the instructor, but satisfying themselves. Third, to view a
question as something to be raised…not answered. Knowledge should not be treated as
a commodity. Lastly, it is imperative for students to be cognizant of cultural biases and
receptive to the international scope of TOK. This will be a pervasive issue throughout
the course.
Theory of Knowledge is a required course for all IB diploma candidates. It is a
yearlong course that will commence during the second semester of the junior year and
conclude at the end of the first semester of the senior year. Students will be responsible
for a variety of assessments both internal and external.

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