Theory of Knowledge (TOK)
Theory of Knowledge, along with CAS and the Extended Essay, is part of the Core of the IB Diploma Program. It is mandatory for all IB students; students must pass all three components of the Core in order to be awarded the DP Diploma. The Core reflects the IB’s dedication to developing well-rounded students. The Core is a key component in achieving the goals (international mindedness) espoused in the IB Mission Statement.
ToK is often described as a “thinking course” in which students “think about thinking”. The central question of the ToK course is, "How do we know what we think we know?"
Specifically, the aims of the TOK course are for students to:
1. make connections between a critical approach to the construction of knowledge, the academic disciplines and the wider world
2. develop an awareness of how individuals and communities construct knowledge and how this is critically examined
3. develop an interest in the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives and an awareness of personal and ideological assumptions
4. critically reflect on their own beliefs and assumptions, leading to more thoughtful, responsible and purposeful lives
5. understand that knowledge brings responsibility which leads to commitment and action.
It is expected that by the end of the TOK course, students will be able to:
1. identify and analyse the various kinds of justifications used to support knowledge claims
2. formulate, evaluate and attempt to answer knowledge questions
3. examine how academic disciplines/areas of knowledge generate and shape knowledge
4. understand the roles played by ways of knowing in the construction of shared and personal knowledge
5. explore links between knowledge claims, knowledge questions, ways of knowing and areas of knowledge
6. demonstrate an awareness and understanding of different perspectives and be able to relate these to one’s own perspective
7. explore real-life situations from a TOK perspective.
At CAIS, the ToK course is divided into four different components. The first part of the course focuses on the different ways in which humans can acquire knowledge. The IB has identified eight different Ways of Knowing (WoK): sensory perception, reason, language, memory, faith, imagination, emotion, and intuition. We study six of the eight WoK in detail.
The second part of the course examines the eight different Areas of Knowledge (AoK): math, natural sciences, human sciences, history, ethics, arts, religious knowledge systems, and indigenous knowledge systems. At CAIS, we study six of the eight AoK in detail. We will explore the different notions of "truth" and "validity" in each AoK. We will examine the different methodologies used in each AoK and how each AoK has a different conception on “proof”.
Once students have a good understanding of the differences and similarities in how each AoK defines, produces, refines, and assesses Knowledge, we then move on to start considering Knowledge Questions (KQ).
The third part of the course provides students with the opportunity to examine, analyze, and answer a variety of different KQ’s. These are questions about knowledge, as opposed to claims about the real world. KQ’s focus on how knowledge is constructed and evaluated. Once students have become proficient at answering KQ’s, we move on to the final part of the course.
The last part of the course is based on the two projects mandated by the IB. All students must compose an essay based on one of the six topics. They must also deliver a ToK Presentation on a subject of their choice. Their final ToK grade is comprised of the Essay (67%) and the Presentation (33%). The final part of the course therefore focuses on the expectations for the two assessments including a review of the rubrics used to grade students' work. Students will receive instruction on how to successfully fulfill the requirements of the essay and presentation.