[IBDP Tips] Theory of Knowledge
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12 January 2018 - 10:26, by , in English, Uncategorised, Comments off

We know with confidence only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases.

—— Adapted from JW von Goethe

This quote, to a great extent, typifies the essence of the TOK (Theory of Knowledge) course experienced by every DP student and was one of the essay titles presented to the students. When you’re new to an idea or topic or whatnot, you have confidence in what you believe. You think this is it and that it’s a straight line idea. And then you learn more and see the intricate web of different pathways. You learn about the alternatives, the controversies, the labyrinth that you’re diving into and you really don’t know which way us the right way.

Questions arise. TOK is composed almost entirely of questions and the most central of these is “How do we know?

The Theory of Knowledge is a course designed to challenge students to look at personal and shared knowledge and ask themselves, “how did I come to have this knowledge?” It looks at knowledge from a number of different areas and the different ways of how knowledge is acquired.

TOK takes aim to make students aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases – whether these biases are retained, revised or rejected. It offers students the opportunity to reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and on areas of knowledge. It allows consideration the role and nature of knowledge in their own culture, in the cultures of others and in the wider world.

In addition, TOK prompts students to be aware of themselves as thinkers, encouraging them to become more acquainted with the complexity of knowledge and to recognise the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected but uncertain world.

When asked about his TOK experience, Reiji Arikawa(G12) had this to say:

“While studying TOK I learned how each and every subject is influenced by the concepts of TOK. It brought me to become a more open-minded person.”

Through discussions of these and other questions, students gain greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions, as well as developing an appreciation of the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives. Reiji went on to describe how TOK will play a role in his University education by helping him “expand his view of the world”.

Part of the TOK course requires that students give a presentation that assesses the ability of the student to apply TOK thinking to a real-life situation.

For Yi-Rui Wong (G12), the critical thinking skills used in TOK helps one “effectively process huge amounts of information, especially in the world today.”  She also believes that the skills she gained form the class will help her ” be able to critically assess and analyse knowledge in University classes.”

Along with a presentation, there is the TOK essay to contend with. The essay, based on prescribed titles, may ask students to discuss the claim that the methodologies used to produce knowledge depend on the use to which that knowledge will be used.

TOK student Jet Lim(G12) says, “TOK does not ask you to find answers within a textbook or the world wide web, but instead gets you to think outside the box in search of your own ideas.”  It provides an opportunity to work on “organization and building strong valid arguments.”

In a world where there are fewer and fewer credible gate keepers, editors, and moderators of knowledge and a rise in fake and sensational news, TOK strives to produce students who can sort through the vast amounts of information that confronts them every day and determine what knowledge is valid. In the words of Max Kimizono(G12), “question everything!”


Please refer to the link below to view more information about SSIS IBDP programme.

A Student’s Reflection on the SSIS IB Presentation | 我思,IB课程

Shanghai Singapore International School

Shanghai Singapore International School

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