TOK - a curious subject

Thursday 29 November 2018

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is a curious subject.  It is at the heart of the IB Diploma Programme, but do teachers really understand what it is about and why it is so important?

This page provides a quick one page introduction to Theory of Knowledge and can be used as such in presentations you may have to give to your key stakeholders (students, parents and teachers). It aims to demystify the subject and provide you with mini-workshops to explore with all of your staff - including PYP, MYP and CP.

This website also contains eight mini-lessons or workshops introducing you to each of the TOK 'ways of knowing'. They could be used as terms' worth of lessons introducing TOK to your students.

Professional inquiry

  • What is Theory of Knowledge?
  • Why is Theory of Knowledge so important to the Diploma Programme?
  • Where are the links with IB Approaches to Teaching and Learning?
  • How can we all benefit from the ideas in Theory of Knowledge?

WHAT is Theory of Knowledge?

One of the key challenges for both the IB organisation and for IB World Schools is to help all interested parties - students, teachers and parents - to understand what TOK is all about and why it is at the heart of the Diploma Programme. All the academic subjects of the Diploma Programme are graded on a 1-7 scale and yet TOK is not but remains a compulsory part of the programme without which a student cannot get a Diploma.

Theory of Knowledge is a course that is fundamentally about critical thinking and inquiry into the process of knowing rather than learning a specific body of knowledge. Diploma students are asked to apply the critical thinking skills they acquire in their TOK lessons to all of their subject disciplines. Subject teachers are expected to show how they are integrating TOK thinking in their unit planners.

WHY is Theory of Knowledge so important?


HOW can we all benefit?

In 2017 the IB launched a new edition of What is an IB Education?. This document, through its various versions, has been a foundational paper laying out what is important to an IB education. The IB have also launched a new suite of workshops that go to the heart of What is an IB Education? These workshops are intended for all IB educators, be they PYP, MYP, DP or CP. They are also intended to be used with teachers from non-IB schools.

One of these workshops is Beyond the disciplines. It uses the Theory of Knowledge framework to explore the question 'how do we know what we know?' The key professional inquiry is 'how do we provide teaching and learning opportunities that reflect the unity of knowledge within, between and across disciplines?' This is an opportunity to explore the interrelatedness of knowledge that provides students with opportunities to construct, internalize and transfer meaning and understanding. We go beyond the disciplines by using the 'ways of knowing' framework which diploma teachers will be aware of from the Theory of Knowledge: language, sense perception, reason, the emotions, intuition, imagination, memory and faith.

Click on the following links below to access mini-workshops that you could use with staff:

Tags: Theory of Knowledge, TOK


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