What is Tok and Why do you have to study it?

The Theory of Knowledge (TOK) programme is central to the educational philosophy of the International Baccalaureate. Although you can pick and choose a number of courses to study, all IB students must take a TOK class. It is meant to challenge all involved to think critically about the different ways of knowing, their applications to the areas of knowledge, and to consider the role which knowledge plays in an ever-smaller and more interconnected world. A successful TOK class pushes all involved to become aware of themselves as thinkers, aware of the complexity of knowledge, and to recognize the need to act responsibly. Uncritical thinking isn't just limited, it is dangerous.

As many of you have noticed, and sometimes been frustrated by, TOK class is composed almost entirely of questions. The main issue, the one from which others develop, is the question of justification: 'how do I know that a statement is true or well grounded?" These statements are the "knowledge claims" we need to identify, and the "knowledge issues" are the difficulties that we encounter when evaluating the validity and truth of the claim. THe goal then is to find ways to approach this question in ways that are insightful and appropriate within each "area of knowledge" '

TOK is meant to encourage critical thinking about knowledge and experience gained inside and outside the classroom. We hope to help you question the bases of knowledge, become aware of subjective and ideological biases, develop the ability to identify the justifications for any given knowledge claim, and analyze their validity. This course should also help you more easily understand how others might disagree with you, and that their ideas and points of view are not worse merely for being different.

In order to pass you must do a presentation and write an external assessment paper that demonstrates your ability to recognize, analyze, and understand the various knowledge issues of the questions you discuss.

Some Key Terms and Concepts:

Arguments, Examples, and Explanations

Argument Mapping

Facts and Opinions

Inductive and Deductive Logic

Justified True Belief

Levels of Abstraction

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