ME AS A KNOWER AND A THINKER:
SHARED KNOWLEDGE AND PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE

TOK is an invitation to explore how we know what we claim to know? It has a particular flavor. TOK students develop an awareness of themselves as embodied knowers and thinkers. This is the anchor for the entire course.

As the TOK experience unfolds, students soon appreciate that the individual knower is not especially privileged. We are embodied knowers, but we are also embedded in social and historical contexts. TOK is not a vehicle for solipsism.

TOK explores multiple and global perspectives engendered by various groups of knowers, including, but not exclusively, traditional academic disciplines. On balance TOK focuses as much on Shared Knowledge (emphasizing “we”) as it does on Personal Knowledge (the subjectivity of “I”).

Henri Matisse (1910)   Dance.  Oil on canvas. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Henri Matisse (1910) Dance. Oil on canvas. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Much of the knowledge encountered in TOK is under the umbrella of shared knowledge, organized into five Areas of Knowledge.

Depending on the nature and content of the discipline, the shared knowledge in the various Areas of Knowledge tends to be systematic and structured. Individuals contribute in large and small ways to the Areas of Knowledge. We can say that Personal Knowledge—rooted in various interconnected ways of knowing—influences Shared Knowledge and vice-versa.