Academics
International Baccalaureate Diploma Program

Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is a core course of the IB Diploma Program. TOK is designed to help students think about how they know what they know and the general nature of knowledge.

On any given day, students may be debating, theorizing, planning, and strategizing about a myriad of topics. Some days, students puzzle over a thought-provoking question, such as how do humans explain dimensions beyond what we perceive.
Other times, students engage in spirited debate about assumed facts or dissect and explore the motives of their own preconceptions. Often these activities take the form of a thought simulation activity where thinkers must engage with scenarios beyond their own personal experiences.

In addition to studying the nature of knowledge, TOK also encourages students to develop “good thinking skills,” according to Head of School Rob Short (who taught the course himself for 20 years).
“TOK extends far beyond the realms of the TOK classrooms. I noticed that in papers we write for Global Politics, in English in Latin, I started asking myself deeper questions about what I was reading, and I started to think about the time period in which they were written, who wrote them, and what their perspective could’ve been. It actually helped me get into that mindset and understand what they’re talking about a lot more.” –Colin Goodpasture ’19
“Students are cautioned against hasty generalization, or bandwagon philosophy, ad hominem, non sequitur arguments, black/white fallacies and either/or traps,” Short says. “We’re training the mind where it ought to go –– by building a sound foundation for reasoning.” 

Students often find that what they learn in TOK transcends and connects other academic areas. “The way you think about an experiment in biology might completely connect to the way you’re analyzing something in English,” says Felicity Davies ’19.

Read more about TOK here.

IB Glossary

IB Diploma Candidate: A student pursuing the IB Diploma, taking at least 6 IB courses (one from each subject group) and distinctive features.
IB Course Candidate: A student taking any IB course or completing a distinctive feature, whether it is one or more.
IB Distinctive Features: Extended Essay (EE), Theory of Knowledge (TOK), and Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS)
 

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