Can "new knowledge" change established values or beliefs? Attendees of the recent Theory of Knowledge (TOK) Exhibition at the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) echoed how the concept of knowledge diverges from what is established, giving rise to new knowledge connections to be explored.
For those who may be unfamiliar with IB Theory of Knowledge (TOK), the course is at the core of the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP). The TOK course is centered around the core theme of “Knowledge and the knower,” encouraging students to reflect on themselves as knowers and thinkers and to consider different communities of knowers to which they belong.
Every Diploma student must engage with the topic and its assessment requirements. But as one can see, it is an exciting subject. Our students reflect on knowledge, beliefs, and opinions that they have built up during their years of academic studies and their lives outside the classroom. The course is thought-provoking as well as empowering for students.This subject prepares students for the rigors of university studies deepening their reflective and critical thinking skills.
Parents should not be surprised when discussions around the dinner table evolve into a debate about the role of imagination in producing scientific knowledge or whether medical practitioners should be as confident about what they think they know about health. While these questions may initially seem intimidating, they become much more accessible when considered with reference to specific examples within the TOK course. By creating space for students to challenge and assess what they think they know, they develop a deeper appreciation for the knowledge. In the same way, students recognize how incredible it is to say that you “know” something. This, in turn, increases respect for those with differing opinions, defends against extremism, and promotes peace and understanding between individuals and societies.
The TOK Exhibition is about the evaluation and critical reflection of knowledge, serving as a platform for challenging debates between students and attendees. The exhibition demonstrates the presence of the IB values cultivated through our student education, not only in what they learn but also in how they do it. Dynamic and inspiring, the WISS TOK Exhibition encourages critical thinking on the complexity of knowledge.
A pen, a camera, a watch, a xylophone, a skull, and a telescope were a few of the objects that our students chose to display, but what do these objects tell us about knowledge? WISS students enthusiastically explained the real-life and personal connections they have made between the objects and the chosen prompt, reflecting on the nature of knowledge and how it is manifested in our surroundings.
Learn more about the WISS Education and our programmes here.
By Brandon Risenhoover, Secondary Deputy Principal-Head of Academics / Diploma Coordinator/ History Teacher and Claudia Romeo, Spanish Language Teacher / Theory of Knowledge Teacher
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