TOK Exhibition
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ToK Exhibition: An Important Part of the IBDP Program that Allows Critical Thinking Skills to Flourish

The ToK (Theory of Knowledge) exhibition is a crucial part of the IB program. On June 7, eleventh-grade students from the Erudito Lyceum presented their projects to the school community.

Fostering Critical Thinking

Theory of Knowledge is an essential component and discipline of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP). Its goal is to encourage critical thinking about knowledge and its sources. This subject helps students explore and understand how they know what they know and the methods by which various forms of knowledge can be tested and evaluated.

The course covers areas of knowledge such as natural sciences, humanities, arts, history, ethics, religion, and mathematical knowledge; ways of knowing include perception, emotions, language, reason, intuition, faith, imagination, and memory, all of which are interconnected. Students analyze how different areas of knowledge evaluate and create knowledge, discussing and assessing aspects of knowledge reliability, value, and impact.

Theory of Knowledge encourages comparing different disciplines’ ways and methods of knowing, integrating them, and thereby better understanding the world.

Personal Reflection and Connection to Theoretical Concepts

Theory of Knowledge also promotes personal and ethical reflections. Students are encouraged to think about their own processes of knowing and beliefs, analyze how they form, and learn to consider ethical aspects of using knowledge.

The assessment of Theory of Knowledge includes an essay (a long piece of writing on a rather abstract and broad topic requiring deep critical thinking, in which students explore a chosen question) and a ToK presentation (a real-world situation chosen by the student to be analyzed within the context of Theory of Knowledge). In preparing for the ToK presentation, students usually choose three objects that have personal significance or are important to their experience and use them to explore and illustrate ToK concepts. The question can be selected from a list provided by the IB.

Some of the topics explored by eleventh-graders at “Erudito” Lyceum include: Are some things unknowable? To what extent can emotion affect the pursuit of knowledge? What is the relationship between personal experience and knowledge? What is the relationship between knowledge and culture? Why do we seek knowledge? Can knowledge change values or beliefs? What challenges arise in communicating or discussing knowledge? Is bias inevitable in the production of knowledge? How is current knowledge shaped by its historical development? How important are material tools in the production or acquisition of knowledge? etc.

For each object, students write a comment explaining how it relates to the chosen question and ToK concepts. Thus, besides critical thinking and reflections on the formation and evaluation of knowledge, students develop written communication skills as they need to convey complex ideas in writing. In summary, ToK presentations allow students to engage creatively in the learning process and establish a personal connection with theoretical aspects of learning.

A New Component of the IBDP Program

Presentations are a relatively new component of the IBDP program, introduced in 2020. They aim to help students demonstrate how rather abstract ToK concepts reflect in the real world, requiring them to connect these concepts with real-world objects. This helps to understand the nature of knowledge and how it is applied and interpreted in different contexts, thus encouraging a deeper understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge.

Theory of Knowledge is not only an academic discipline but also an important tool that helps students become independent and critical thinkers. It develops skills that are useful not only in school and everyday life but will undoubtedly be important in pursuing a career in any field.

Peter Venables, ToK teacher at Erudito Lyceum, states that ToK presentations are a great opportunity for students and the entire school community to show how they are learning in the International Baccalaureate program, what topics they are exploring, how they think, and creatively apply their knowledge. “It’s a fun, creative, and engaging knowledge celebration for the whole community that sums up the entire academic year,” says Venables.

His colleague, IB English teacher Indrė Douglas-Ramanauskė, agrees: “The presentation was very interesting and engaging, I really liked the topics chosen by the eleventh-graders. I also liked the presentation format and that other high school students came to listen. They had the opportunity to see that Theory of Knowledge is an interesting, challenging, and mind-stretching discipline.”

Eleventh-grader Eglė confirms that learning Theory of Knowledge is interesting, as it allows for deeper exploration of chosen topics. “ToK presentations provide an opportunity to interact with other students, compare and look at the topics from different perspectives. And since topics need to be viewed through a personal lens, these projects help us get to know each other better,” says the IBDP student.