International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge
Course Syllabus 2011-2012
Karen C. Myrick
The Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course is central to the International Baccalaureate program as it unifies
academic subjects within one course mandatory for all IB students. Intentionally placing students as
knowers at the center of this course, TOK engages its participants in an exploration of knowledge claims in
the disciplines of mathematics, the human sciences, the natural sciences, history, language, the arts, and
ethics and encourages a thoughtful personal as well as collaborative approach to the complex problems
associated with knowledge. Extensive readings promote reflective thinking which classroom conversations,
dialogues, and debates will enlarge through analysis and ultimately synthesis as students begin to develop
their own perspectives and beliefs with a sensitive respect for the distinct differences of opinions that will be
held not only by other knowers within their learning community but also by those with different cultural
perceptions. As students question the bases of knowledge, they will use questions that link elements of
TOK with central issues and concepts to develop through written expression rational arguments based upon
the analysis of specific evidence. The internalization of this inquiry through writing will promote participation
in class activities, presentations, and discussion, leading the student ultimately to recognize the
responsibility that belongs to one who is a citizen of this world and who has knowledge.
At the end of the TOK course, Diploma Programme candidates should be able to:
analyze knowledge claims critically, their underlying assumptions and their implications
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 experiences as learners
demonstrate an understanding of and appreciation for different perspectives on knowledge issues
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
identify values that underlie judgments and knowledge claims pertinent to local and global issues
demonstrate an ability to give a personal response to a knowledge issue with an understanding of
the judgments and beliefs that are influential in the development of their own knowledge claims
use oral and written language to formulate and communicate ideas clearly with regard for both
accuracy and academic honesty
IBO Theory of Knowledge materials
Theory of Knowledge Course Companion by Eileen Dombrowski, Lena Rotenberg, and Mimi Bick
Man is the Measure by Reuben Abel
Theory of Knowledge by Richard van de Lagemaat
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
Besides issued texts, students should have a three-ring binder, college-ruled notebook paper, dividers, and
blue or black ink pens. No other materials for another class should be placed in this binder. Subject
headings for notebook dividers include the following: Sophie’s World; WOKs; AOKs; Vocabulary; Knowledge
Issues; EPT; Presentation.
All assignments will be given a numerical value, and these will be averaged by category for a final grade.
The categories include the following:
1. Assessments (tests, essays, formal projects or presentations, announced quizzes): 50%
2. In-class works (discussion, response writing, informal presentations, class activities—including
utilization of the reading component): 30%
3. Outside-of-class work (extended essay requirements): 10%
4. Exams (mid-term and final): 10%
The extended essay is included with TOK components not only as a motivational factor to assist students in
keeping up with deadlines but also because opportunities will be given as the year progresses for students
to use school resources for completion of work and to meet with advisors.
High Schools That Work asserts that students should read the equivalent of twenty-five books per year
across the curriculum. I encourage students to read recreationally and to have the habit of reading beyond
what is assigned. To meet Fairhope High School’s literacy goal, students are required to bring appropriate
reading materials of their choice to this class daily and to read when assignments are completed early or
when time is provided by the teacher.
When they have questions or concerns, students often contact me via email. I welcome this as a means of
communication, but I also request that each student recognizes this as a formal communication with a
professional rather than dialogue with a peer. Please be attentive to the standards that apply to this type of
Assignments are due at the beginning of the period on the day they are due, unless students have been
told otherwise. I will not accept any assignment late. Students will earn a zero for the assignment,
regardless of its point value. Students who return to their lockers after the tardy bell has rung to retrieve
missing work or supplies will be marked tardy. Students are expected to come to class prepared to begin
the first activity.
I expect every student to adhere meticulously to the Academic Honesty Policy that is available online at the
Fairhope High School site. Students should review and understand the explanations of plagiarism,
collusion, duplication of work, and academic malpractice.
International Baccalaureate Assessments: All coursework is designed to help students effectively identify
and address issues related to knowledge so that they can be successful on the two International
Baccalaureate assessments: the formal presentation (internally scored and valued at 20 points) and the
essay on a prescribed title (externally scored and valued at 40 points). As the TOK course is now designed,
presentations are completed in the spring of the junior year and the externally scored essays are started
before the end of the junior year and completed during the senior year as students continue to be engaged
with TOK through monthly seminars.
Attendance and Tardies: The county policies for class attendance will be strictly followed.
Behavior Management Plan: It is my expectation that students know how to conduct themselves in a
learning environment. I expect students to follow all school rules as outlined in the Fairhope High School
handbook. Please know that I enforce the uniform policy; wearing the correct school uniform is the first sign
of compliance with school rules and procedures. In addition, in my classroom students will
1. show respect to teachers, peers, and all property.
2. be in the classroom when the tardy bell rings, ready to begin class activities.
3. bring required books and materials to class.
4. leave all gum, food, beverages (including water) in their lockers.
5. speak at appropriate times using an appropriate voice.
6. comply with all teacher requests.
In the event of a behavioral problem, the following consequences will be used:
a formal or informal teacher warning;
an student conference with the teacher;
discipline referral to the office.
If there is any behavior so severe it merits immediate disciplinary action, a referral will be written without
regard to the number of prior offenses.
1. All school procedures and policies from the student handbook will be followed.
2. Accommodations for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or Personalized
Education Plans (PEPs or 504s) or English as a Second Language (ESL) will be
3. Parent conferences can be scheduled upon request. My planning block is fourth. If you
call the school at 928-8309, my extension is 29145. If it is possible for you, I prefer to be
contacted by email at email@example.com.
4. If it becomes necessary, this syllabus will be amended.