Theory of Knowledge (ToK) is essentially a deep-critical-thinking course, which invites Upper School students to consider the way knowledge is produced, its relationships and values, how we communicate our beliefs and opinions, and why knowledge develops over time. The five areas of knowledge help to discover this: the Arts, History, Human Science, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences. In ToK classes, we investigate how the nature of knowledge differs in these areas. With the help of concepts such as perspective, objectivity, truth, evidence, and certainty, the students analyse real-life situations in and out of the classrooms.
ToK is not simply another subject in which students learn facts, but rather a course which helps the students to develop a renewed understanding of what they already know. Questions such as: What does it mean to know anything at all? What does it mean to know something in Mathematics, the Arts, Science, or History? Is this the same kind of knowledge? Do ethical facts exist? Is it possible to live a good life in a corrupt society? What does beauty mean and can we prove that something is beautiful? Knowledge questions are at the heart of ToK teaching. These are questions that will not be answered in the syllabus of any IB course.
At the ToK breakfast with Kate Verlaque (Grade 11ToK teacher) and Dorothee Prendergast (Academic Leader ToK & Critical Thinking), Grade 11 parents could not only learn about this course, but get a real-time experience through several ToK related activities. Parents had discussions about cultural relativism, analyzed their world views, and planned a "culturally relativist dinner party". Several questions needed to be answered: how do different nationalities welcome their guests; how do they set up the table; how do they eat? These activities gave the parents a glimpse of the ToK classes, and some parents commented: "This is my first experience with ToK, and before I was completely in the dark. I go home now excited and happy that my kid will have this great experience. " "It was a wonderful exercise. You should do more of these. It was very enjoyable, thought-provoking, and fun. Thank you."