Grade 11 and 12 TOK

Welcome to the Theory of Knowledge page!
This page aims to provide you with additional information to understand the T.O.K. course and produce sound assessment responses -  the T.O.K. Presentation and the T.O.K. essay response. Please use this page in conjunction with the resources available on ManageBac, TOK moodle page as well as our blog page and class texts. 
TOK Teacher Support Material for 2015 assessment
Please find the link for the current O.I.S. T.O.K. units here. These units are based on the Cambridge edition of Richard van de Lagemaat's book "Theory of Knowledge for the I.B. Diploma".

Knowing me knowing you - ABBA
Jim Holt: Why does the universe exist?
Julian Baggini: Is there a real you?

- The Terrorist's Son

- What is personal knowledge and shared knowledge? 

From the experts - T.O.K. Shared and Personal Knowledge.

- Wellington College Intranet - go to Michelmas Lesson Resources re. PPT on Shared and Personal knowledge.

From the new TOK guide - pp.20-21

In TOK there are two types of knowledge claims.
• Claims that are made within particular areas of knowledge or by individual knowers about the world.
It is the job of TOK to examine the basis for these first-order claims.
• Claims that are made about knowledge. These are the second-order claims made in TOK that are
justified using the tools of TOK which usually involve an examination of the nature of knowledge.

To put it briefly, the whole point of the presentation and essay tasks is to deal with knowledge questions.
Knowledge questions are questions about knowledge, and contain the following features.
• Knowledge questions are questions about knowledge. Instead of focusing on specific content, they
focus on how knowledge is constructed and evaluated. In this sense, knowledge questions are a
little different from many of the questions dealt with in the subject classrooms. In this way, they are
considered second-order questions in TOK.
• Knowledge questions are open in the sense that there are a number of plausible answers to them.
The questions are contestable. Dealing with open questions is a feature of TOK. Many students
encountering TOK for the first time are struck by this apparent difference from many of the other
classes in their school experience. Many find the lack of a single “right” answer slightly disorienting.
Nevertheless, knowledge questions underlie much of the knowledge that we take for granted. Much
of the disagreement and controversy encountered in daily life can be traced back to a knowledge
question. An understanding of the nature of knowledge questions can allow a deeper understanding
of these controversies.
• Knowledge questions should be expressed in general terms, rather than using subject-specific terms.
For example, instead of a question focusing on a specific model in development economics, such
as the Harrod-Domar model, a knowledge question might focus on the reliability of modelling as a
method of gaining knowledge in economics.

It might be worth considering and discussing with students why questions of knowledge are open and therefore
so interesting. Why is it that the typical TOK question does not have one straightforward correct answer?
Students might find themselves facing this sort of question in class. Perhaps a typical response might start with
“it depends what we mean by ...” In other words, the first task in trying to answer a TOK question is to establish an
understanding of the key concepts involved. There may be a number of different ways of thinking about these
concepts. Each might give rise to a different analysis and ultimately a different answer to the question.
It is inevitable that personal perspectives will play a part in the judgments made in any analysis. The
intellectual resources that each of us has to draw upon might well be different and lead us to different or
even diametrically opposed conclusions.
The possibility of a lack of unanimity in answering TOK questions can be initially challenging for students.
After all, in mathematics a student getting a different answer to his or her neighbour can be a cause for
concern, prompting the thought that one or other has made a mistake. In a TOK question it is perfectly
conceivable that the answers differ. What is important is that the analysis is thorough and that there
are good reasons to back it up. It is possible that both conclusions are true. It is tempting to explain the
plurality of good answers to knowledge questions in terms of a type of truth relativism: “it is just a matter of
perspective”. A more likely explanation is that different interpretations of key ideas account for the different
conclusions or that the weighting of different factors in the argument differ.

WAYS OF KNOWING: From the new TOK guide: p.23

The TOK course identifies eight specific ways of knowing (WOKs). They are:
sense perception
Students must explore a range of WOKs. It is suggested that studying four of these eight in depth would be 
appropriate. The WOKs selected for detailed study should be carefully selected to ensure a coherent and 
balanced approach.
There are two central purposes to the WOKs in TOK. On the one hand they are the tools that answer the 
question “how do we know?” and on the other hand they help us answer the question “how do I know?” 
For example, we can analyse the role of imagination in the construction of shared knowledge in terms 
of scientific discovery, but we can also discuss imagination in the context of personal knowledge and 
While there may be a place in a TOK course to analyse WOKs and their impact on how individuals construct 
their own personal knowledge, TOK teachers are encouraged to explore WOKs, not in isolation, but from the 
perspective of their contribution to understanding different areas of knowledge.

AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE: From the guide - page 28 

While there may be a place in a TOK course to analyse WOKs and their impact on how individuals construct
their own personal knowledge, TOK teachers are encouraged to explore WOKs, not in isolation, but from the
perspective of their contribution to understanding different areas of knowledge.
Knowledge framework
One effective way to examine the AOKs is through a knowledge framework. A knowledge framework is a
way of unpacking the AOKs and provides a vocabulary for comparing AOKs.
For each AOK the following can be examined:
• scope, motivation and applications
• specific terminology and concepts
• methods used to produce knowledge
• key historical developments
• interaction with personal knowledge.
Within this knowledge framework, key features of each area are identified, as are specific terminology and
concepts which shape that area of knowledge. The key historical developments that have influenced and
shaped each area are identified, as well as the ways that each makes use of particular methodology. Finally,
there is opportunity for reflection on the interaction between shared and personal knowledge in each area.
Knowledge frameworks are a very effective device to compare and contrast areas of knowledge.
The idea is that each AOK can be thought of, broadly speaking, as a coherent whole—a vast system with a
rich inner structure. TOK aims to explore this structure and to understand just what it is that gives each AOK
its particular character. It is also concerned with what these AOKs have in common. A useful strategy is to
build a TOK course around comparing and contrasting the various AOKs, to look for features they have in
common but also to highlight their differences and pinpoint what gives each its own characteristic flavour.



Grade 12 T.O.K. 2014-15

After completing mini presentations last academic year, you must now nominate what area of knowledge you are going to give your final presentation on. The FINAL due date for T.O.K. presentations is day, the  of February, 2016. The essay deadline is day,  of January 2016.


Grade 12 2015-16 Essay choices:

Grade 12 2015-16 Presentation dates and A.O.K. choices:

TOK Presentation and Marking forms

Richard van de Lagemaat's sample text - provided by Cambridge

Theory of Knowledge net. - HISTORY
Is there too much choice in relation to historical interpretations? - Barry Schwartz's book "Paradox of Choice" - TED Talk overview. See blog re. Is choice good?


Banksy sells his art cheap - what is he saying?
The arts and beauty presentation exemplar
The arts and rubbish!
Reason and belief presentation
Karl Popper - Uncertain truth
Frank Zappa - freedom
What is Art
Art Aesthetics and values
AOK: Ethics
Ethics Presentation - Common sense
Ethics Presentation - Violent Video Games
Daniel Tammet: Different Ways of Knowing

Sinbad the Sailor - the story
Woolman - activities

What is right and wrong
International School of Manila - TOK page
Useful TOK wiki
Theory of Knowledge net - best resource for TOK!
Ethics definitions and case studies
Good structure for a TOK Ethics presentation
AOK: Human Science 
Re-thinking Human Sciences introduction (Columbia Uni. Presentation)
Yves Morieux: as work gets more complicated & rules to simplify
Logical Human Sciences TOK Presentation - Womens Rights
David Hume and his theory of knowledge - "man in the middle" - BBC
Human Sciences - Peace and team building
Independence Burger - Japan
Free Will - the power of introverts!
Free Will - Steven Pinker
Free Will - Do we have free will or is everything predetermined?
Free will, determinism and choice

AOK: Natural Science
Uri Alon: Why truly innovatiive science demands a leap into the unknown

AOK : Mathematics
Is math discovered or invented?
Other good general resources:
An up to date general resource with thought provoking visuals
TOP 10 TOK Essay Writing Tips

Having difficulties with your TOK Essay? Maybe, this Facebook essay template will help - registration free!
Facebook provided, TOK essay Template for question 3.)
larryferlazzo.edublog for ToK - updated resources for new guide
Madness Presentation - This site includes our in class text by Richard van de Lagemaat

Mr. Green's TOK course 

Resources for writing a "great" T.O.K. essay
Formatting a TOK essay
TOK Presentation Forms TK/PPM

TOK Essay Scaffold - for the 2015 guide.

Prescribed essay Titles for May 2013
TOK Essay Marking Criteria
Essay exemplars
TOK presentation exemplar