The Diploma Programme Core: Theory of Knowledge

  • The Theory of Knowledge (ToK) class plays a special role in the DP by providing an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature, scope and limitations of knowledge and the process of knowing.

    The main focus of TOK is not on students acquiring new knowledge but on helping students to reflect on, and put into perspective, what they already know.

    ToK engages students in explicit reflection on how knowledge is arrived at in different disciplines and areas of knowledge, on what these areas have in common and the differences between them.

    A few of the aims of the TOK class are:

    • to encourage students to reflect on the question, "How do we know that?"
    • to expose students to ambiguity, uncertainty and questions with multiple plausible answers
    • to encourage students to be more aware of their own perspectives and to reflect critically on their own beliefs and assumptions
    • to engage students with multiple perspectives, foster open-mindedness and develop intercultural understanding.

    Students are assessed through two pieces of work: an essay and an exhibition

    • A sample essay question is, "When historians and natural scientists say that they have explained something, are they using the word 'explain' in the same way?"
    • A sample exhibition prompt is, "How can we distinguish between knowledge, belief and opinion?"


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