Theory of Knowledge
TOK provides our sixth form students with an opportunity to engage in a stimulating debate about a wide range of important contemporary issues. In doing so, students are encouraged to reflect on their own knowledge, beliefs and opinions as well as to appreciate the importance of the perspectives of others. Our lessons help students to see things in new and exciting ways and to develop the critical thinking skills that are essential for life in the 21st century.
Although TOK is not a course of philosophy in the traditional sense, we do draw on the ideas of a range of prominent thinkers to help students think deeply about the issues we explore. However, the main focus is on the development of critical thinking skills and there is no set content for students to learn.
Enquiring and caring global citizens
All of our lessons are built around open-ended questions about knowledge. Students are encouraged to investigate these with an open mind and form their own conclusions. The course encourages students to consider how much of their current knowledge reflects the society the live in and the advantages that can come from considering issues from outside this perspective. Sensitive discussion of controversial issues prepares students to become caring global citizens in the future.
Excellence in education
TOK helps students to achieve excellence by thinking critically, considering alternative perspectives and joining in robust discussions about controversial issues.
We believe that the concepts explored and the skills developed in TOK enable our students to succeed in both the IB Diploma Programme and beyond. The focus on relevant and thought-provoking real-world issues connected to the areas of knowledge provide an opportunity for students not studying these subjects to see how interesting they are. We are particularly pleased to see many of our students over the years have gone on to study Philosophy at university, including Oxbridge.
Concept-Based Student-led Inquiry
The TOK curriculum supports an investigation into the following concepts: evidence, certainty, truth, interpretation, power, justification, explanation, objectivity, perspective, culture, values and responsibility.
Approaches to Learning
Through approaches to learning (AtL), students develop skills that have relevance across the curriculum that help them “learn how to learn”. The TOK curriculum provides coverage of all of the AtL skill categories: communication, social, self-management, research and thinking, with a particular focus on communication and thinking.
Approaches to Teaching
A ‘typical’ lesson involves the presentation of material (in a variety of media) by the teacher followed by discussion and debate. One lesson in each unit is a student-led lesson to give students a degree of ownership over the course.
TOK is at the core of the Diploma Programme and provides an opportunity for students to make links to and between their other subjects.
Almost all TOK lessons include reading material ranging from short online articles to lengthy academic texts. All have been chosen for their ability to present complex ideas in a clear and effective way; providing a good model for our students to follow in their own writing.
In our topic on knowledge in mathematics we will, amongst other things, consider the nature of mathematical knowledge, whether numbers were invented or discovered, and the uses and abuses of statistics. This philosophical understanding of mathematics will complement the more practical numeracy skills developed elsewhere in the curriculum
TOK lessons encourage students to be open-minded and to consider the perspectives of others. The importance of free speech and tolerance of ideas you disagree with are values that underpin our approach to teaching TOK.
Purpose: How does the curriculum support a holistic approach to education that goes beyond academic development?
TOK provides opportunities for students to ‘think about their own values and actions, to deepen their understanding of their place in the world and to sensitively consider the contexts and views of others.’ (TOK Subject Guide). It allows students to consider a wide range of topics, many of which they haven’t encountered before.
Environment: How is the curriculum adjusted to ensure all students can succeed?
The TOK syllabus (launched in September 2020) includes a new assessment task, the TOK Exhibition, that has been designed to be accessible for Year 12 students. We prepare students thoroughly for this by showing them example tasks and providing a scaffold for them to plan their work. The TOK essay in Year 13 is set after we have explored all five Areas of Knowledge in detail. Lesson material is designed to be accessible to all and includes a range of media. Extension material is provided in most lessons to support our highest achieving students.
Learning: How is feedback written into the curriculum to ensure that all students are set challenging goals?
Students are given feedback on practice assignments at key points during the course. For both the Exhibition and Essay task student receive detailed written feedback on their first draft which includes specific targets on how to improve their work. TOK teachers also make themselves available for students during the assessment tasks for one to one meetings to provide additional support where needed.
During the course students have the opportunity to engage in a range of creative activities, including role-play, scripted drama, and presentations. In addition we seek to have a range of guest speakers each year to supplement the material covered in lesssons.