Why is TOK important?

by | May 6, 2022 | IB tips

Every IB student is familiar with the many acronyms – CAS, EE, IA, TOK… today we decided to write a blogpost about why TOK is important to the IB programme and what students will take away from it. If you’re a student currently struggling through TOK and feeling like it’s meaningless/a waste of time, then this post is perfect for you!

1. Roots of education

While other subjects e.g. History, Music, ESS delve into very specific concepts, TOK delves into the foundational basics and gives students the philosophical approach/perspective to education. This means students are questioned about things like what exactly counts as knowledge? Who owns this knowledge? How does it grow? What are its limits? This is extremely important and highly transferable to the working world as students are taught that knowing itself is not enough, and practical experience is also necessary to solidify what’s being taught.

Students are also taught that there are 3 aspects to education:
– What you know
– What you don’t know
– What you don’t know you don’t know

The last point especially is a humbling experience and students are reminded that there’s always something new to be learnt and knowledge to be acquired.

2. Critical thinking

Through TOK, students are taught the importance of critical thinking and how to execute this. As TOK aims to make students aware about how knowledge has a very interpretative nature, students are forced to think critically and analyse personal ideological biases within, to figure out which biases should be retained, revised or rejected.

3. Reflection

During this entire process, where students are considering multiple perspectives, they are constantly required to reflect. This means they also think about themselves whenever they offer an opinion: are they coming from a biased standpoint? This is an incredibly important skill to practice as, going out into the working world, they will need to be aware of how their words will be received by others.

4. Positioning Yourself Within & Linking the 8 Areas of Knowledge

Areas of knowledge are the disciplines through which knowledge can be acquired. There are 8 in TOK, namely:

The Natural Sciences
The Human Sciences
The Arts
Religious Knowledge
Indigenous Knowledge Systems

As an IB student, you are probably competent in each of the AOK before your IBDP started. But as mentioned before, there are always things you know and things you don’t know, as well as things you don’t know you don’t know.

Through TOK, you would identify your level of skill within each AOK and bridge the knowledge gap for the AOK that you don’t know.

In one of our next posts, we will delve more into the 8 Ways of Knowing for IB TOK! Stay tuned!


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