• Theory of Knowledge

    International Baccalaureate programme

    Great Oak High School


    The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

    - Albert Einstein

    We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning.

    - Werner Heisenberg



    Mrs. Diana Arban                       Mr. Steve Maxey                       Ms. Katie Johnson

    darban@tvusd.k12.ca.us            smaxey@tvusd.k12.ca.us          kjohnson2@tvusd.k12.ca.us

    294-6450 X 3206                      294-6450 X 3603                      294-6450 X 3308

    5-8 p.m. Monday                      2:45-4:15 p.m. Tu & Th             5-8 p.m. Monday


    Course Description:

    The Theory of Knowledge (TOK) programme is central to the educational philosophy of the International Baccalaureate. It challenges students and their teachers to reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and areas of knowledge, and to consider the role which knowledge plays in a global society. It encourages students to become aware of themselves as thinkers, to become aware of the complexity of knowledge, and to recognize the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected world

    As a thoughtful and purposeful enquiry into different kinds of knowledge, the TOK programme is composed almost entirely of questions. The most central of these questions is ‘how do I, or how do we, know that a given assertion is true, or a given judgment is well grounded?’ Assertions or judgments of this sort are termed ‘knowledge claims’, while the difficulties that arise in addressing these claims are the broad areas known as ‘problems of knowledge.’ The programme entails the application of this central question to many different, yet interrelated, topics.

    Questions are the very essence of TOK.  These include ageless questions on which thinkers have been reflecting for centuries, and new ones, often challenging accepted beliefs posed by contemporary life. TOK is intended to stimulate critical reflection on the knowledge and experience gained inside and outside the classroom. The course challenges students to question the bases of knowledge, to be aware of subjective and ideological biases and to develop the ability to analyze evidence that is expressed in rational argument.

    TOK is a key element in encouraging students to appreciate other cultural perspectives.  Through texts and other literature, questions are generated and discussion occurs cross culturally. As an example, when comparing modern medicine in science between the Western world and other countries/cultures there is a necessity to understand other world views and perspectives.

    International Baccalaureate Formal Assessments:

    The assessment for the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course includes two components completed within the 100 hours designated for the course.

    Part I: External Assessment (40 points)

    • Essay on a Prescribed Title (1200-1600 words). One essay on a title chosen from a list of ten titles prescribed by the IBO.
    • Support from the teacher comes in a variety of ways over the course of the TOK class. Through Socratic discussion we will discuss concepts and related ideas that will build up on the student’s current knowledge while building new ideas along the way. Tying in readings from across the curriculum, current media news, and worldly events that connect. Encouragement and motivation to students will come with deadlines set throughout the course; ensuring students are on target for time as well as on topic through advice and guidance of skills needed to ensure success. The teacher will also ensure that the candidates work is original through questioning of topic and consistent meetings and conversations with candidate along the way.

    Part II: Internal Assessment (20 points)

    • The presentation (approximately 10 minutes per candidate) as an integral part of the TOK course.
    • One written self-evaluation report, using the relevant form from the Vade Mecum, including: 1) a concise description of the presentation 2) answers to the questions provided on the form.

    Great Oak Grading Policy

    40 percent: Participation and Attendance

    Participation is defined as the following:

        • Engaging regularly in dialogue and debate in class
        • Coming to class prepared having done any assigned readings
        • Completion of journals and thought paragraphs
        • Regular attendance – Because the class is so heavily dependent on student interaction, missing class becomes a rather grievous offense.  Therefore, missing multiple class periods will lead to lowering the grade in the class as a whole.

    40 percent: Papers leading up to and including the external assessment

    All extended essay checkpoints

    20 percent: Group and Individual presentations – practice and internal assessment