Why we think what we think

In this class: Theory of Knowledge

TOK provides valuable experience to IB students

TOK provides valuable experience to IB students

Abril Tellez Tamayo, Elections editor

If you want to pass high school with an IB (International Baccalaureate) diploma, you have to take Theory of Knowledge (TOK). It is required during junior or senior years. At the base of the course, students examine “how we know what we know” and how we create knowledge and share knowledge about a variety of topics, like science, math, and just different kinds of Knowledge. “In TOK, when we talk about knowledge, we also look at the IB logo learner profile and examine them, if they’re doing their CAS [Community, Activity, and Service] hours, looking at their exams and kind of tying all the subject areas that they take together” said Ms. Vanessa Walling Sisi, a TOK teacher. 

Overall the class isn’t very difficult because it’s not about being right or wrong. It’s mostly about deeper reflection. It’s not about how to prove something is true or false, but to examine the different perspectives. “That can be hard for some people because we’ve been taught to make a claim and support it with evidence and prove something true or prove something false, but with TOK it’s more like examining different perspectives and that there is more than one right answer,” said Ms. Sisi. 

A positive thing about TOK is that it gets students to think outside of the box. “Sometimes the stress of the courses that they’re taking pops up in TOK and I can tell. ‘Oh, you guys must have a science test!’ or ‘There must be a Spanish test, six period!’ because nobody is listening to me,” said Ms. Sisi. “IB has the tendency to be more rigorous.” In Ms. Sisi’s TOK class, a lot of students complain about their stress a lot and sometimes she decides to give them a study day for their exams. 

Currently, students are studying how language works and what language is. “There are about 7,000 languages in the world and indigenous languages sometimes disappear and die out. They have in the past because of imperialism and for all different reasons,” said Walling Sis. The students are also looking at how language can shape the way we really think and how people who speak different languages might perceive the world a little differently.  

Ms. Sisi really enjoys teaching the class because it’s fun and likes to show students how to work in the community and how to find different ways to do TOK or IB things outside of school. She also wishes that TOK was available to take for anyone who is interested in it and not just people who are in IB.