In TOK, Students Gain Knowledge About Knowledge

Isabel Hanewicz, RHStoday Editor-in-Chief

With the start of the second semester, IB juniors and seniors switched places. IB requires that students take Theory of Knowledge, or TOK, to, according to the official IB course description, allow them “to reflect on the nature of knowledge.”

At Robinson, students take TOK the second semester of their junior year and first semester of their senior year, upping their schedule to seven IB classes and decreasing their study hall time from two periods to one. For seniors, second semester meant gaining an extra 90-minute study hall, albeit slightly bittersweet.

“I think it will be really helpful to have an extra JA in this last stretch, especially when all our IAs are coming up,” Andrew Petterson (’16) said. “But at the same time I will miss some of the things TOK enabled us to discuss in class.”

For the juniors entering their first day in Aline Loges’ room-the sole TOK teacher-the class provided a change from their other courses. Unlike, for instance, in classes like math, where concepts and formulas like the Quadratic Formula are taught, in TOK, students learn about the ways in which one knows those concepts and formulas, and what the concept of “knowing” means.


“It was a nice change of pace from other classes,” Maya Bourgeois (’17) said. “It taught you what knowledge is, rather than the knowledge that you need to know for the actual class.”

On the first day, Loges had students define a word, although not with the type of definition found in an English vocabulary book. In pairs or groups, they worked together to come up with a definition of the word “knowledge”, more ambiguous then the average SAT buzzword.

“I think [TOK] makes them think more about the things that they’re learning in class and makes them evaluate the things that they’re just learning in the real world,” Loges said. “Because you don’t necessarily stop to think like, where did this knowledge come from? You mostly kind of accept it up until this point.”