Theory of Knowledge

Can we ever truly trust information gained from historical resources?

What makes art beautiful?

How do we know that 2+2 = 4?

Throughout life – not just our time at school – we are constantly gaining knowledge. It might not always be the most important knowledge, but we are always learning. The question is, how do we learn, and why is learning a good thing in the first place?

Theory of Knowledge (ToK) tries to help to answer this question by exploring different areas of knowledge and looking at how we learn in those areas, and what the strengths and weaknesses of that learning can be. Through a variety of tasks, we aim to get pupils thinking about the knowledge they are gaining, in order to make the most use of it – not always the most straightforward of tasks!

ToK is a compulsory component of the International Baccalaureate Diploma and, as such, is studied by all IB pupils throughout the Upper School. There are no exams for ToK, assessment is done entirely on two pieces of assessed coursework – an essay and a presentation. Below are a couple of examples of recent essay titles: 

  • “Without application in the world, the value of knowledge is greatly diminished.” Consider this claim with regards to two areas of knowledge.
  • “Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organisation of facts.” Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge.

ToK bridges the gap between all other subjects and helps to strengthen the knowledge that students gain in the other parts of the IB Diploma, whilst allowing them to look at how those subjects link together.