Nalinka Kalder teaches at ISN Nice. She is Creative Arts Coordinator, TOK and RS teacher and IB Visual Arts examiner. Here, she explains why teaching TOK is one of the highlights of her week.
THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE IB DIPLOMA PROGRAMME
Theory of Knowledge is a unique core part of the IB Diploma Programme alongside the Extended Essay and CAS components. It is currently evaluated in the new course through a 1,600 word essay valued at 67% of the IB grade and an exhibition/950 word commentary valued at 33% of the final grade. Theory of Knowledge combined with the Extended Essay offers the chance of bonus points that can significantly boost a student’s final IB score.
What is TOK and why does it matter? Theory of knowledge challenges our students to reflect on their learning both in and out of the classroom by asking the all-important question: How do we know what we know? Answering this question requires them to develop an open-minded approach to new knowledge and concepts and be willing to form opinions and multiple perspectives on a given subject or issue.
TOK encourages students to engage with the world (real life issues) and develop valuable skills such as critical thinking, creative problem solving and collaborative approaches to learning. It fits in perfectly within the IB Diploma Programme and better still in the international school environment in which different cultures and value systems co-exist to test and challenge new knowledge and skills acquired. Our Grade 11 students are currently completing an exhibition which is a new addition to the programme this year. They have been asked to address and explore an IB prescribed knowledge question/ IA prompt that they explore through the selection of three objects.
The proposed concept was derived from the exhibition “A History of The World In 100 Objects” held at the British Museum, London in 2010 which told the story of our world through the selection of a wonderful range of objects as diverse as Swimming Reindeer 11000 BC to more contemporary items such as a Solar Powered Lamp Charger, AD 2010.
The new revised TOK programme is an exciting and stimulating journey of exploration into knowledge and ideas found in our current everyday lives. In addition, knowledge or discoveries from the past are explored through a range of subject areas such as History, Natural Sciences or the Arts.
I believe the TOK programme offers our students an opportunity to reflect on their own knowledge and develop an awareness of how values and belief systems can change over time. TOK comes alive when it is embedded into our different IB subject areas and students realise that it is not a stand alone subject but rather one that engages with all that they do on the Diploma Programme. TOK encourages intercultural understanding and benefits our IB students well beyond our school communities and this is the reason why TOK matters.
Four years ago I started my own TOK journey when I stepped in to teach the subject at very short notice. What was initially a personal challenge for me has now become one of the highlights of my week.