I’ve been publishing commentaries on the new IB Theory of Knowledge Teaching Guide: first, my own; then, from Canadian TOK teacher Brad Ovenell-Carter; next-up came an extended one by Richard van de Lagemaat, author of the most popular TOK textbook used around the world.

Today, Chris Coey, my talented teaching colleague at Luther Burbank High School, is sharing this thoughts:

I very much like the new guide, and I believe it will stretch me as a ToK teacher given that the new framework asks us to consider what it means to be an historian, a mathematician, an artist, and so on, addressing knowledge claims and questions as we investigate AoKs through the lens of WoKs.

I think the temptation to teach WoKs exclusively, out of context that is, could be somewhat of a return to what is comfortable for ToK teachers because to some extent it is what we have done for years. However, I can see that exploring WoKs through each area of knowledge will likely make WoKs more understandable during the discussion of real-life situations. I believe that this approach of integrating WoKs is likely to improve students’ presentations and essays when they are asked to compare and contrast how WoKs are working. It is clear that the revisions to ToK have been given significant consideration. I feel a bit overwhelmed by the scope of the changes, yet I am also excited by the opportunity to reinvent the course for my students and me.

In a recent ToK workshop, we were asked to rank the importance of WoKs in one area of knowledge, and I found the discussion to be both exciting and challenging. The exercise required us to first try to explain HOW each WoK worked and the extent to which it was valued. This is precisely the type of activity we want for our students.

In my class, I can imagine students giving mini-presentations on each aspect of the new AoK framework, which would be followed by reflection and a short essay response. At the start of the year, students will be asked to sign up for presenting on one AoK, giving specific attention to kn. claims, kn. questions, personal and shared knowledge, and WoKs. This will provide an opportunity to both explore the requirements of the presentation and make a meaningful contribution to our study of the AoKs.

Oh! I almost forgot… the central metaphor of ‘the map is not the territory’ is an incredibly useful motif that we should definitely embrace. Last year, this metaphor helped to explain how historiography frameworks, literary theories, and scientific paradigms, were related as means of describing ‘the territory.’ This should be carried throughout the course.

My hope is that teachers will develop lessons and activities specifically aligned to the AoK frameworks, and furthermore share those resources with each other. There is much exciting work to do!