Course Description (from the ibo “Theory of Knowledge Guide”)

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IB Theory of Knowledge

Washington-Lee High School, 2013-2014

Mr. Keith Klein
Course Syllabus

Course Description (from the IBO “Theory of Knowledge Guide”)

The TOK course, a core element (along with CAS and the extended essay) of the Diploma Programme, encourages critical thinking about knowledge itself, to try to help young people make sense of what they encounter. Its core content is questions like these: What counts as knowledge? How does it grow? What are its limits? Who owns knowledge? What is the value of knowledge? What are the implications of having, or not having, knowledge?

The overall aim of TOK is to encourage students to formulate answers to the question “how do you know?” in a variety of contexts, and to see the value of that question. This allows students to develop an enduring fascination with the richness of knowledge. Specifically, the aims of the TOK course are for students to:

1. make connections between a critical approach to the construction of knowledge, the academic disciplines and the wider world;

2. develop an awareness of how individuals and communities construct knowledge and how this is critically examined;

3. develop an interest in the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives and an awareness of personal and ideological assumptions;

4. critically reflect on their own beliefs and assumptions, leading to more thoughtful, responsible and purposeful lives;

5. understand that knowledge brings responsibility which leads to commitment and action.

It is expected that by the end of the TOK course, students will be able to:

1. identify and analyze the various kinds of justifications used to support knowledge claims

2. formulate, evaluate and attempt to answer knowledge questions

3. examine how academic disciplines/areas of knowledge generate and shape knowledge

4. understand the roles played by ways of knowing in the construction of shared and personal knowledge

5. explore links between knowledge claims, knowledge questions, ways of knowing and areas of knowledge

6. demonstrate an awareness and understanding of different perspectives and be able to relate these to one’s own perspective

7. explore a real-life/contemporary situation from a TOK perspective in the presentation.

Activities and Expectations
All students are required to complete the two IBO-specified assessments for the TOK course:

  1. An essay of 1,200-1,600 words on a topic chosen from a list of six topics (“titles”) prescribed by the IBO, to be completed by early March. This essay will be assessed externally.

  2. An oral presentation (individually or in pairs) on a knowledge issue of the student’s choice, to be completed by the end of March. This presentation will be assessed internally.

Students should expect quiz (open notes) on the summer reading (Sophie’s World) during the first week of the school year.

The first two quarters will be spent covering the core TOK curriculum as outlined in the TOK Guide. Reading, thinking, discussion, and writing will be focused around ways of knowing (sense perception, language, emotion, and reasoning) and areas of knowledge (mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, history, the arts, and ethics). Work during these quarters will prepare students to write a prescribed essay and to make a 10-minute oral presentation during the third quarter.
Grades during the first two quarters will be based on an accumulation of points from essays, quizzes, presentations, and other work in the form of homework exercises, classroom exercises, and group participation.
During the third quarter, all students, both diploma and certificate candidates, will be expected to write a prescribed essay and make an oral presentation based on the IBO assessment guidelines. The third quarter grade will be based primarily on the instructor’s assessment of the essay (preliminary and final drafts) and the oral presentation.
During fourth quarter, students will continue our exploration of theories of knowledge and related topics. There will not be a final exam in this course.

All students will receive a copy of the primary text for the course, Theory of Knowledge (2nd ed.) by Nicholas Alchin. Students will also continue to read chapters from Sophie’s World, as assigned. Other relevant readings will be provided by your instructor, either on paper or on line.
Given the seminar nature of this course, daily participation is very important to student success. Students need to attend class regularly and on time, and pay attention to the instructor and the contributions of their fellow students. Consistent with W-L policy, the use of cell phones, iPods, and other electronic devices during class is not permitted. (See page 11 of the Student Handbook.) Your active participation in class, as a thinker, listener, and speaker, will be reflected in your class participation grade.

For this course, you will need:

  • A 1-inch three-ring binder (to be used for TOK only)

  • Plenty of 8 ½” x 11” filler paper

  • Writing instruments

That’s it. You must bring these materials to class every day. Spiral notebooks are neither needed nor welcomed.

Grading Scale
A = 90 – 100% C+ = 77 - 79% D = 60 – 66%

B+ = 87 – 89% C = 70 – 76% E = 0 - 59%

B = 80 – 86% D+ = 67 - 69%
Grading Determinants
Student grades reflect student achievement and not student behavior. Grades are determined on a point system, and the approximate distribution of assignments during a typical quarter is indicated below:
Homework 15% Writing 40%

Quizzes 20% Participation 15%

The final grade for the quarter is calculated based on the total number of points earned, divided by the total points of all assignments.
Homework assignments as well as in-class writing assignments will be posted on the instructor’s website. In the case of an absence, students will be expected to turn in any missed writing assignment assigned for homework or class work as soon as possible after their return to class (no later than one week after their absence). The instructor may assign alternate make-up assignments when the missed work is based on class activities or other work that is difficult to replicate outside of the classroom environment.
For work assigned previous to an absence and due during the absence, students must be prepared to turn in homework and to complete any quizzes, tests, presentations at the start of the next class they attend. An “E” is recorded for make-up work not completed after the deadline.
Students are ineligible to earn credit for assignments missed due to unexcused absences or tardies.
Homework will not be accepted late. Students are expected to come prepared for class with appropriate materials. Passes will not be given to retrieve assignments or materials from lockers.
Academic Integrity
As a sign of respect in our school community, students will do their own work, tell the truth, respect the rights and property of others, and act honorably at all times. Incidents involving cheating, plagiarism, and/or other academic dishonesty will be taken seriously and acted upon according to the procedures set forth in the student handbook. Students will be asked to sign an honor pledge. By signing the pledge, students will acknowledge their understanding of the honor policy and that they have not violated that policy in any way.
Honor pledge: “On my honor, I pledge that this assignment reflects by own efforts and work.”

Print Student Name __________________________________________

I have read the Course Overview for IB Theory of Knowledge and understand my roles and responsibilities as a student in this class.

Student Signature

I have read the above course overview to IB TOK for the 2011-2012 school year.
Parent/Guardian Name (please print): _________________________________________
Parent Signature __________________________________________________________

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