DP TOK course outline

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Welcome to Theory of Knowledge!
 
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein
 
INTRODUCTION
 
Welcome to the IB Theory of Knowledge course! The theory of knowledge course is a core element which all Diploma Program students undertake. It encourages students to think about the nature of knowledge, to reflect on the process of learning in all the subjects they study as part of their Diploma Program course, and to make connections across them. TOK is a course about critical thinking and inquiring into the process of knowing, rather than about learning a specific body of knowledge. The TOK course examines how we know what we claim to know.
 
ACADEMIC / CURRICULUM GOALS
 
As described by the IB subject guide,
 
AIMS:
 
The aims of the Diploma Program Theory of Knowledge course are to: 
 
Make connections between a critical approach to the construction of knowledge, the academic disciplines and the wider world;
Develop an awareness of how individuals and communities construct knowledge and how this is critically examined;
Develop an interest in the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives and an awareness of personal and ideological assumptions;
Critically reflect on their own beliefs and assumptions, leading to more thoughtful, responsible and purposeful lives;
Understand that knowledge brings responsibility which leads to commitment and action.
 
OBJECTIVES:
 
Further to these it is expected that by the end of the TOK course, students will be able to:
  • Identify and analyze the various kinds of justifications used to support knowledge claims;
  • Formulate, evaluate and attempt to answer knowledge questions;
  • Examine how academic disciplines/areas of knowledge generate and shape knowledge;
  • Understand the roles played by ways of knowing in the construction of shared and personal knowledge;
  • Explore links between knowledge claims, knowledge questions, ways of knowing and areas of knowledge;
  • Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of different perspectives and be able to relate these to one’s own perspective;
  • Explore real-life/contemporary issues from a TOK perspective.
COURSE DESCRIPTION AND CONTENT
 
As the IB Subject Guide (2015) states:
 
TOK plays a special role in the Diploma Program by providing an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature of knowledge. The task of TOK is to emphasize connections between areas of knowledge and link them to the knower in such a way that the knower can become aware of his or her own perspectives and those of the various groups whose knowledge he or she shares. TOK, therefore, explores both the personal and shared aspects of knowledge and investigates the relationships between them. The raw material of TOK is knowledge itself. Students think about how knowledge is arrived at in the various disciplines, what the disciplines have in common and the differences between them. The fundamental question of TOK is “how do we know that?” The answer might depend on the discipline and the purpose to which the knowledge is put. TOK explores methods of inquiry and tries to establish what it is about these methods that makes them effective as knowledge tools. In this sense TOK is concerned with knowing about knowing.
 
At the center of the course is the idea of 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. 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. 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 as different interpretations of key ideas account for the different conclusions or that the weighting of different factors in the argument differ.
 
The TOK course also identifies eight specific ways of knowing (WOKs). They are: 
 
• language • sense perception • emotion • reason • imagination • faith • intuition • memory. 
 
Students must explore a range of WOKs. It is suggested that studying four of these eight in depth would be appropriate. 
 
In addition, the theory of knowledge course distinguishes between eight AOKs: 
 
• mathematics • natural sciences • human sciences • history • the arts • ethics • religious knowledge systems • indigenous knowledge systems. 
 
Students must explore a range of AOKs. It is suggested that six of these eight would be appropriate for students to address throughout the TOK course.
 
ASSESSMENT:
 
The assessment model in theory of knowledge (TOK) has two components:
  • an internally moderated oral presentation, and;
  • an externally moderated essay. 
 
(a)   the presentation contributes 33% of the final mark.
(b)  The essay contributes 67% of the final mark.
 
Students complete one presentation to the class, either individually or as a group (a maximum of three persons in a group). Approximately 10 minutes per student is allowed for the presentation. The TOK presentation requires students to identify and explore a knowledge question raised by a substantive real-life situation that is of interest to them. The selected real-life situation may arise from a local domain of personal, school, or community relevance, or from a wider one of national, international or global scope. Whatever situation is chosen, it must lend itself naturally to a question about knowledge.
 
Students are required to select one essay on a title chosen from a list of six titles prescribed by the IB for each examination session. The maximum length for the essay is 1,600 words. All essays are externally assessed by the IB.
 
The diploma points matrix
 
                           Theory of Knowledge
Extended essay
 
Excellent
A
Good
B
Satisfactory
C
Mediocre
D
Elementary
E
Not
submitted
Excellent
A
3
3
2
2
1
N
Good
B
3
2
1
1
0
N
Satisfactory
C
2
1
1
0
0
N
Mediocre
D
2
1
0
0
0
N
Elementary
E
1
0
0
0
Failing
condition
N
Not
submitted
N
N
N
N
N
N
 
TOK points:Points awarded for the externally assessed component, part 1, the essay on a prescribed title (10 points), and for the internally assessed component, part 2, the presentation (10 points), are combined to give a total out of 20. The grade boundaries are then applied, to determine the band (A to E) to which the student’s performance in TOK belongs. 
 
The band descriptors are:
  • Work of an excellent standard
  • Work of a good standard
  • Work of a satisfactory standard
  • Work of a mediocre standard
  • Work of an elementary standard
Expectations:
  • Attendance:The expectations are simple: come to class prepared, ready to learn, and on time every day. Be ready to learn when the bell rings. Small and large group discussions are based partially on attendance.
  • Tardiness: Be on time for class. All tardies or absences will be noted.
  • Academic honesty:Have in mind that plagiarism will lead to serious consequences. Distinguish between correct paraphrasing, direct quotation, and citation formats. Any notebooks or homework that looks too similar will also face serious penalties. For more information, please see the ISB Assessment and Academic honesty policy document.
  • Respect:Respect each other’s voice. Listen to each other. Do not cut each other off in class discussions.
 
GRADING POLICY:
 
TOK grades are based on your compilation of quality work produced or in process throughout each term. This will include in-class participation, essays, projects, formal and informal Socratic seminars, and a final presentation project (2nd semester only) demonstrating quality reflection and your best work. Feedback will take a variety of forms: letter grades, completion check-offs, written comments, individual conferences, peer evaluations, reading check quizzes, etc. 
 
Quarterly Participation Grade: This class is participation-intensive. Each quarter a “Participation” grade (usually worth 7 points) is awarded.
I take mental notes every day on each student’s active desire to learn and to improve him-/herself. 
 
This grade represents the following:
  • arriving to class on time, ready to learn
  • asking quality questions on directions and during activities
  • general active listening 
  • taking advantage of in-class work time
  • paying attention to oral and written instructions
  • keeping yourself organized so papers don’t get lost and work gets turned in on time in the designated place
  • respectful, considerate behavior in class
  • active, organized, helpful note-taking in your TOK journal during seminars, lectures, films, etc.
In general, lack of focus, wasting time, creating distractions, being unorganized will adversely affect your Participation Grade.
 
Required materials:
 
Please bring the following materials to every class:
  • Charged laptop
  • Agenda
  • Notebook
  • Folder/binder
  • Writing utensils
  • Highlighters
  • Assigned reading materials
Looking forward to a great year!

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