Crash Course CHS: theory of knowledge


Aliya Zakir

IB theory of knowledge is a two-semester mandatory course for students pursuing an International Baccalaureate diploma. The course bases its syllabus on the validity and reasoning behind knowledge.

Anette Varghese, Student Life Editor

Crash Course CHS is a Sidekick series in which student life editor Anette Varghese answers questions about CHS courses.  In this edition, Varghese talks to CHS International Baccalaureate theory of knowledge teacher Michael Brock. 

Why is TOK the only mandatory IB class? 

Theory of knowledge is one of the three core elements of the IB diploma program. It is required for students to take because all of the subject courses should connect to theory of knowledge. TOK should be the course that shows how interconnected all of the other subjects are. 

What does the syllabus include? 

The TOK syllabus is built around some general themes that integrate ways that we know, problems of knowledge and how we connect those things to the real world. We explore how we access knowledge and how it affects its validity. 

Is the course similar to philosophy? 

Elements of philosophy are incorporated into theory of knowledge. But, the course itself is also built around educational psychology and ethical process. Philosophy is integrated but TOK is not a philosophy course. 

Can students take TOK without being a part of the IB program? 

You do need to take at least one IB subject course in order to take theory of knowledge. You can take 1-4 subject courses or do the entire diploma program, but it does need to be linked to an official course. 

How are the assessments formatted? 

Assessments are formatted around the official assessments that the IB provides. This includes an oral component and an essay. 

What is the main focus of the class? 

To explore what we mean when we say we know something, and how we can justify that. We consider our access to acquiring knowledge, what the nature of the knowledge is and how we can connect it to the rest of the world. 

Is the course challenging? 

Most students who take theory of knowledge say it’s their favorite IB class. The difficulty is that you are going to have to put in significant thinking and you will have to be comfortable with sharing your ideas, it’s not difficult in terms of mastering content. 

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