Theory of Knowledge: How Do We Know What We Know?


Theory of Knowledge (TOK) develops a coherent approach to learning that unifies the academic disciplines. In this course on critical thinking, students inquire into the nature of knowing and deepen their understanding of knowledge as a human construct. While there are arguably many ways of knowing, the tok course identifies eight specific Ways of Knowing (WOKs) as: language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, faith, intuition, and memory.

Students in TOK are encouraged to think about how knowledge is arrived at in different disciplines and what the commonalities and differences are among those disciplines. Areas of Knowledge (AOKs) are specific branches of knowledge, each of which can be seen to have a distinct kind of justification used to support knowledge claims, including their underlying assumptions and implications. TOK distinguishes between the eight Areas of Knowledge as: mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, arts, history, ethics, religious knowledge systems, and indigenous knowledge systems. Students effectively compare and contrast different Areas of Knowledge and are encouraged to explore the possibility of a deeper understanding of the relationship between Areas of Knowledge and Ways of Knowing. This quest for answers takes students to the U.N. and the State Department, to public parks and famous museums, to mosques and synagogues and cathedrals, to think tanks, NGOs, cultural centers, embassies and elsewhere, all while building critical thinking skills.

Sample TOK Essay Topics

Chartered in 1832, St. Timothy's School is a private boarding and day school for girls in grades 9 through 12, located in Stevenson, Maryland. St. Timothy's offers the world-renowned International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (DP) for grades 11 and 12, and Middle Years Program (MYP) for grades 9 and 10.