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

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IB Theory of Knowledge

Washington-Lee High School, 2010-2011

Mr. Keith Klein
Course Syllabus

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

The TOK course, a flagship element 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 aims of the TOK course are to:

  • develop a fascination with the richness of knowledge as a human endeavor, and an understanding of the empowerment that follows from reflecting on it;

  • develop an awareness of how knowledge is constructed, critically examined, evaluated, and renewed, by communities and individuals;

  • encourage students to reflect on their experiences as learners, in everyday life and in the Diploma Programme, and to make connections between academic disciplines and between thoughts, feelings, and actions;

  • encourage an interest in the diversity of ways of thinking and ways of living of individuals, and an awareness of personal and ideological assumptions, including participants’ own;

  • encourage considerations of the responsibilities originating from the relationship between knowledge, the community, and the individual as citizen of the world.

Having followed the TOK course, students should be able to:

  1. analyze critically knowledge claims, their underlying assumptions and their implications;

  2. generate questions, explanations, conjectures, hypotheses, alternative ideas, and possible solutions in response to knowledge issues concerning areas of knowledge, ways of knowing, and students’ own experience as learners;

  3. demonstrate an understanding of different perspectives on knowledge issues;

  4. draw links and make effective comparisons between different approaches to knowledge issues that derive from areas of knowledge, ways of knowing, theoretical positions, and cultural values;

  5. demonstrate an ability to give a personal, self-aware response to a knowledge issue;

  6. formulate and communicate ideas clearly with due regard for accuracy and academic honesty.

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 ten 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 will be expected to turn in the TOK summer assignment on the first day of class.

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 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 and the oral presentation.
During fourth quarter, students will be engaged in a variety of activities to be determined by the instructor in consultation with students, the Washington-Lee administration, and the IB Department. There will also be a final exam or project except for students qualifying for an exemption or participating in Senior Experience.
All students will receive a copy of the primary text for the course, Theory of Knowledge (2nd ed.) by Nicholas Alchin. 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 instuments

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

Grading Scale
A = 90 – 100

B = 80 – 89

C = 70 – 79

D = 60 – 69

Grading Determinants
Grades are determined on a point system, and the approximate distribution of assignments during a typical quarter is indicated below:
Homework 20% Writing 35%

Quizzes 20% Participation 25%

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 the 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 2010-2011 school year.
Parent/Guardian Name (please print): _________________________________________
Parent Signature __________________________________________________________
Parent E-mail Address ____________________________________________________

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