Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is the central academic course of the IB diploma programme and accordingly is offered by all IB students in the school. TOK provides a dedicated opportunity for students and teachers to explore the nature of shared systematic knowledge across the academic field and beyond into the more informal and personal domain.
The bulk of the course is concerned with an examination of the scope, applications, concepts, methods and historical development of various areas of knowledge, such as the natural and human sciences, the arts, mathematics, history and so on, and of how knowledge in these areas is produced by professionals and consumed by the wider public, including students such as those following the IB programme.
This description of TOK indicates how TOK has intimate connections with all other IB subjects, and while many of the issues mentioned here can and should be addressed across the curriculum, it is in TOK that a greater space is created for stepping back from the relentless acquisition of knowledge itself in order to gain a deeper perspective on what it is that the curriculum insists should be learned.
The course starts by exploring the differences and relations between knowledge in the public domain and knowledge of which each of us has taken personal possession. We then proceed to examine a range of attributes that all of us use for knowledge acquisition, such as reason, language, sense perception and imagination, and then look at how the processes that they involve are also paramount in the construction of knowledge in academic disciplines. Those areas of knowledge are treated more broadly in turn throughout most of the rest of the course.
Students are provided with a text that gives them a foundation for the course, and reading and small exercise assignments are set from it preceding the corresponding lesson so that students are prepared for what is to come.
Assessed tasks in TOK fall into two groups. Written assignments are geared to the eventual production of a full-length 1,600-word essay that is marked by an external examiner, and oral assignments build toward a final TOK presentation that is assessed by the teachers and moderated externally. There is also a TOK weekend spent away from the campus that is dedicated to a range of TOK activities, including presentations by students. Semester grades are awarded for TOK on the letter scale from A to E.
Membership of the TOK teaching team varies slightly from year to year, and currently comprises the following teachers:
Aba de Graft-Hanson