The nature of knowledge and how we know it


A display of student knowledge and understanding, is what the DP students got to show during the TOK fair. TOK which stands for Theory of Knowledge is a core DP subject where students (according to the IB) “reflect on the nature of knowledge and how we know it”. It is a mandatory course for all DP students.

By Roderick, student grade 10

The subject is considered a core DP subject, and students are tested on it through an exhibition in DP1 and then a 1600-word essay in DP 2. The TOK exhibition and Extend Essay can gain the student a total of 3 points towards their final exam score. The aim of TOK is for students to reflect on the role and nature of knowledge in their own culture, and other cultures around the world.

Object and prompts

During the TOK exhibition, students are required to present their three chosen objects that they have related to one of the 35 IA prompts (Internal Assessments prompts). These prompts are designed to encourage students to explore the nature of knowledge, critically examine different ways of knowing, and reflect on the role of knowledge in shaping our perceptions, beliefs, and values. To give you an idea of what the prompts are like, here is one of the prompts: "How can we know that current knowledge is an improvement on past knowledge?" To view the complete list of prompts, please click here.

How did our students rate the experience?

Here are some quotes from DP students expressing their thoughts about TOK. The opinions on this course vary among students, with some finding it more beneficial than others:

“TOK is very abstract, everyone has different opinions on the same object and expresses it in different forms, I find TOK a great way to be creative and express yourself”, Austin DP1.

“It's interesting but the way that it is done is very philosophical”, Meine DP1.

TOK is a generally interesting subject that goes in depth on many topics and provides a new perspective to challenge what students know and what they think they know. So far, we have learned a lot and have learned how to challenge our knowledge and think in new creative ways", Emilie DP1.

In conclusion, the TOK exhibition was a significant event that provided an opportunity for the DP students to showcase their intellectual abilities. The exhibition helped them to develop their critical thinking and open-mindedness by making connections between their IA prompt and three chosen objects. It required a lot of effort, and I'm sure the DP students are relieved to have finished the exhibition.