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Basics of TOK: The IB diploma programme’s key component

Basics of TOK: The IB diploma programme’s key component 05/30/2022

The goal of all programmes related to IB is merely to produce globally aware individuals who, by recognizing their shared humanity and shared stewardship of the earth, contribute to the creation of a stable and peaceful world.

What is the theory of knowledge?

Understanding to success in your TOK coursework but before I try to answer this, it is important to understand how assessments work in TOK that are also counted towards the final marks for the IB Diploma.

Any IB school would give a range of TOK assignments and the TOK presentation which is the internal assessment will teach learners how to find a solid real-life situation. Then learners have to extract and explore a fantastic knowledge question for the TOK essay.

The external assessment will help you break down a prescribed title into a few central knowledge questions and come up with claims along with the counterclaims, to explore those questions. But before we jump into internal and external assessments, let us try and understand our fundamental question, what is TOK? The key to the answer to this question is the key sections of the knowledgeable guide.

Theory of Knowledge guide

TOK is about the process of knowing rather than learning. It is a specific body of information, so basically it is a course about critical thinking, which will teach learners how to think about the concept of knowledge itself rather than just teaching learners about particular facts or concepts.

According to the TOK guide, the fundamental questions that TOK seeks to explore are, how do we know that? Similarly, how do you know to answer these questions? The TOK guide encourages you to investigate different areas of knowledge or AOK and ways of knowing otherwise known as WOK.

Eight Areas of knowledge

There are eight areas of knowledge that the guide describes as branches of knowledge. Each area of knowledge involves specific types of knowledge and methods to gain knowledge. For example, learners would use the scientific method to gain knowledge in the natural sciences such as chemistry and physics.

These areas of knowledge are mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, history, arts, ethics, religious knowledge systems, and indigenous knowledge systems.

Ways of knowledge

Different ways of knowledge help learners gain understanding in different areas of knowledge. Ways of knowledge also provide a basis for personal knowledge, so they contribute to individual and collective understanding of almost everything.

Way of knowledge includes language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and memory.

Shared Knowledge versus Personal Knowledge

Shared knowledge has a few key characteristics and it is the product of more than one individual, so many individuals contribute to a body of shared knowledge over time. Most shared knowledge can be grouped into distinct areas of knowledge, including the eight areas that are mentioned above. Last but not least it is highly structured and systematic in nature. It is much more organized than personal knowledge.

Think about physics it is impossible to pin down, who the first physicist was, however people ‘Thales of Miletus’ and Lucipus from the 5th and 6th centuries BCE disputed the nation of supernatural causes suggesting instead that events had to have natural causes. Rejecting the complex system of Gods in ancient Greece is what made some of the western world’s first physicists.

In the next 2 millenniums to the scientific revolution that happened during the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. The findings of scientists such as Galileo and Copernicus caused paradigm shifts, which were a particular way of thinking about the world is completely changed.

For example, people used to think according to the geocentric model of the Universe, in other words, that was sun revolves around the work of Galileo and Copernicus completely upended this paradigm leading to a heliocentric understanding of the solar system.

In other words, one where the earth revolves around the sun. Today scientists are still adding to this body of knowledge. The combined work of both ancient and modern scientists makes up shared knowledge of physics. It is a body of knowledge that does not belong to and could not have been produced by anyone in particular rather it is an aggregate of many different thinkers.

Shared knowledge is refined over time through the process of peer review, and new findings and checked by a group of experts in the same field before they become widely accepted.

Personal knowledge, on the other hand, depends on the experiences of the particular individual, it is gained through experience practice and personal involvement. It may include skills, practical abilities, and individual talents. For this reason, it is sometimes called procedural knowledge. Because personal knowledge is often about knowing, how to do something like how to ride a bike or how to bake a cake.

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