What is ToK? Theory of Knowledge Course in IB Explained

This is the complete guide to the Theory of Knowledge course. Because ToK is mandatory for all IB students, we hope this resource will set you up for success in all the areas taught in the course.

Specifically, this post covers different aspects of ToK to give you the upfront understanding that you need to succeed in the course.

We’ve also provided links to additional resource for further reading, so you can learn about acquisition and application of knowledge and equally score top grades for every test issued in the Theory of Knowledge course.

Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • ToK course requires you to learn and reflect on the nature of knowledge.
  • By going deeper into different areas of knowledge and ways of knowing, ToK seeks to uncover and help you to understand how we know what we claim to know.
  • You gain insights into your ideological and personal assumptions.

IB Theory of Knowledge isn’t an easy. Still, it doesn’t have to be complicated because we’re here to give you the right lead. Every post that we’ve written in this category seeks to help you learn more about the course, so you can have an easy time completing your tests.

What is ToK?

Theory of Knowledge is part of the IBO diploma program. The course is mandatory for all IB students, and it gives the opportunity to learn about and reflect on the nature of knowledge.

In ToK, you’ll discover how we know what we claim to know by delving deeper into the different areas of knowing and unique kinds of knowledge.

By studying Theory of Knowledge, you gain insight into your ideological and personal assumptions. Furthermore, you’ll become more aware enough to appreciate the value and diversity of cultural perspective.

What’s the Purpose of Theory of Knowledge?

Knowledge is interpretative in nature, and it may include personal biases subject to rejection, retention, or revision.

So in the Theory of Knowledge course, you’ll learn to accept and embrace this very nature of knowledge. At the same time, you’ll come to appreciate the role of knowledge in yours and other people’s culture, regardless of where they’re in the world.

In addition to treating yourself as a thinker, the ToK syllabus requires you to embrace the complexity of knowledge and act more responsibly to apply knowledge with awareness and credibility.

The one thing that should be clear about Theory of Knowledge is that it doesn’t teach you the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong. Instead, it centers on a balanced approach to knowledge claims.

For Theory of Knowledge to achieve its aim, which is to enable students to understand the nature of knowledge, students need to reflect on two things – and they’re as follows:

  • Ways of Knowing: The focus is on how human gain knowledge and understand the world. However, ways of knowing are not mandatory in the new Theory of Knowledge syllabus.
  • Areas of Knowledge: The focus is on the nature of gaining knowledge. Also, students should understand the analysis of the claims each areas make, as well as the issues considered.

Theory of Knowledge Assessment Tasks

The following are the Theory of Knowledge assessment tasks that you must cover in the IB diploma program:

1. ToK Essay

The Theory of Knowledge essay is an assignment focused on a prescribed essay title in which you have to give arguments and counterarguments for the topic that you select.

Once you have a strong grasp of WOKs and AOKs, you’ll have an easy time developing your prescribed title based on these concepts.

The ToK essay requires that you show a higher-level of thinking by presenting relevant examples to support the arguments that you make throughout the essay. Furthermore, you must reference sources used, as this is part of the requirements in the assessment criteria.

2. ToK Exhibition

The ToK Exhibition is an assignment that requires you to demonstrate how Theory of Knowledge manifests itself in the real world.

Your target should be to create an exhibition project that fits tightly in the excellent band of the assignment’s assessment criteria.

Ideally, you should be able to:

  • Interlink ideas: You have to show a clear link between the selected IA prompt and the objects, with clear references to the prompt itself.
  • Justify your ideas: The exhibition must present a clear, strong, and convincing justification on the relevance of the objects selected for the project.
  • Use evidence: You’ll need to use evidence to support all the points you make in your writing.
  • Determine real-world context: The objects that you choose for the project must have a specific real-world context.

3. ToK Journal

The ToK journal is a weekly assignment whose aim is to test your understanding on Theory of Knowledge.

Ideally, your teacher will require you to write weekly entries that demonstrate your prowess to think about ToK concepts outside the classroom.

Throughout the two years of learning, you’ll master ideas and approaches linked to Theory of Knowledge and communicate them in writing. 

4. ToK Presentation

The ToK presentation is a project with a similar focus as the essay. Ideally, it assesses your critical thinking skills, and how well you understand the knowledge you’ve acquired based on a real-life situation.

Because the presentation requires you to give a solid analysis of a RLS, you must select a question that allows you to examine the practical implementation of theoretical knowledge in the normal everyday life.

The Theory of Knowledge presentation isn’t as strict when it comes to the number of participants. Unlike the exhibition, which is an individual project, you can do your presentation individually or in a group of two or three participants.

Knowledge Questions

In ToK, knowledge questions focus on how we produce and use knowledge. Furthermore, these questions enable you to link the ideal world to the world of Theory of Knowledge.

For clarity, it’s imperative to divide KQ into two types:

  • First-order KQ: These KQs focus on the questions about the real world. We ask first-order knowledge questions in the context of all the diploma subjects.
  • Second-order KQ: These KQs focus on what we already know about the world. We ask the second-order knowledge questions only in the context of the Theory of Knowledge.

By exploring knowledge questions in-depth, you can understand how Theory of Knowledge manifests itself in the real world, the impact of knowledge arguments, and how our perspectives determine how we view the world.

Knowledge Claims

There are two types of claims in Theory of Knowledge, and they’re as follows:

  • Claims about knowledge justified by Theory of Knowledge tools. These usually examine the nature of knowledge. 
  • Claims made within a certain area of knowledge or by individual knowers.

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