Theory of What?: 11th Grade Begins TOK

by JiJi Kim

Theory of Knowledge is the class that makes the IB program distinct from other high school curriculums. Yet, to many students, TOK can seem mysterious and puzzling due to the fact that it is not a specific body of knowledge.

Starting January 28, grade 11 students will begin their two-semester session of TOK.

According to Mr. Merritt, who teaches TOK, the essence of TOK is trying to understand “HOW we know what we know”. This unique approach causes the course to be highly different from other IB subjects.

Unlike other courses, says Mr. Merritt, in which students learn “through the eyes of an actual expert in their field, or someone who uses their knowledge as a tool”, in TOK, students “look on from a different perspective and try to determine how those people know what they claim to know.”

According to Mr. Merritt, Grade 11 students will be learning valuable skills that are beneficial and highly transferable to other areas of their lives since “TOK focuses on practicing thinking skills.” Due to the learning approach and the content studied in this course, in the future, a student can “become a well rounded adult who is better able to think critically, persevere, and be open minded in the process.”

To successfully complete TOK, which is one of the core elements of IB, students will need to be assessed externally, by submitting a 1600-word essay, and graded internally through an oral presentation.

According to Mr. Merritt, “students enjoy challenging their own judgments and grappling with contrasting perspectives linked to what appear to be obvious truths” and he hopes that grade 11 students are “prepared to consider that there’s almost always another valuable way to look at everything.”

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