Why is Theory of Knowledge Important to the 21st Century Student?


Why is theory of Knowledge important to the 21st century international student?
 An international student by definition is one who goes to another country with the sole intention of studying, by this definition very few of the students at this school are “international students” due to the fact that the vast majority of us are here because of our parents’ vocation.

TOK or Theory of Knowledge is a compulsory class taken by IB students with the intention of developing a coherent approach to learning that unifies the academic disciplines. In this course on critical thinking, students inquire into the nature of knowing and deepen their understanding of knowledge as a human construction. It aims to teach students to think critically and discuss opinions giving reasons relative  of areas of knowledge and ways of knowing.

It teaches the skills of finding out the origin of knowledge, encompassing why and how people know what they know. TOK also teaches students about the areas of knowledge. These are categories that divide different types of knowledge; the areas of knowledge include human sciences, natural sciences and history. Through TOK, IB students are taught how to assess the value of knowledge and to discuss their paradigms, moreover, TOK teaches students to be open minded and accepting. However, it would be impossible to say that TOK is appropriate and useful to students living in all cultures, for example China which is a nation of vast censorship, especially of the Internet. How would it be possible for an IB student in China to assess the basis of their knowledge when they do not have access to all the information on their assumed knowledge? Also throughout the world there are many religions, is it fair that through TOK, we are advised that our religion cannot be true, because they feel like it isn’t based on reason? Is it not up to our families and home communities to decide what paradigm we have?

The knowledge claims you could make from that information are:
TOK teaches students skills they would not otherwise learn.
The skills TOK teaches are important for the growth and development of students.
These skills will stand students in good stead for life.
People’s views on these knowledge claims will inevitably vary greatly, firstly, the IB obviously believes that TOK teaches important skills, or they wouldn’t make the course compulsory to students. As this class is forced upon students and is difficult to grasp, at times, even the point of taking this subject, I would claim that some if not most IB students disagree with the knowledge claims made. Additionally, I would expect that the vast majority of TOK teachers believe in the knowledge claims made, I think it would be difficult for someone who did not agree with the knowledge claims mentioned, to teach a TOK class, although not impossible, leaving room, of course, for those who teach TOK without accepting the said knowledge claims, and teach the class for another reason.

All the knowledge gleaned in TOK classes can be linked to the way of knowing of language, and to an extent faith. Language, because a student must understand what is being said to even begin to comprehend the concepts involved in a TOK lesson. Faith is loosely needed in TOK because a student must have faith in their teacher and assume that they are telling the truth, in order for something to become knowledge the knower must believe it to be true. I would link the knowledge learnt in TOK to human sciences and history because students need to be able to see knowledge in use, and this has been done throughout human history, they then must assess whether that knowledge has helped society in any way, which is the human science part. The skills on the other hand, gleaned from TOK come into the way of knowing again of language and intuition, most people with a basic intelligence are capable of thinking deeply, an therefore intuitively can fathom that knowledge can come from different places. Also, people with a basic intelligence and education tend to be open minded, few highly educated people, are, in my experience, small minded, or ignorant. And the reason for including language is the same as previous; the student must understand the language in which the teacher is teaching. The area of knowledge that the skills learnt in TOK relates to would be ethics as it is important to be ethical when in pursuit of knowledge.

The real life examples to prove or disprove my knowledge claims would be:
Students who take A-levels or other qualifications are no less open minded than IB TOK students and it would be highly logical to predict that those who take other qualifications are actually more open minded than the extremely privileged IB students.
There is no proof that anyone has ever taken TOK and was then inspired to become a philosopher, (which is basically a professional deep thinker)
Kim Jong-un took the IB at an international school in Switzerland and by extension would have also taken TOK, I think it would be near impossible to argue that the dictator of North Korea is open minded.

A knowledge question that could be extracted from this would be: Should knowledge be forced upon the knower?

Proof of the knowledge claims would be that the international baccalaureate is the only education system to contain a theory of knowledge class as a compulsory element to the course. The IB claims that the skills and knowledge gained from TOK allows a student to be more open minded and critical of knowledge, these skills are useful, if not, vital for the growth of people into kind, intelligent human beings. As this is the only course of its type within the IB system, it is important for students to be taught TOK.
The counter claims to the knowledge claims are
Most people around the world, regardless of their education are capable of empathy and deep thinking.
There are few jobs in which you would not be considered if you were incapable of empathy and kindness.
The same is true for 3 as for 2.

The implications of my knowledge question: “Should knowledge be forced upon the knower?” is that a knower would have to have a choice on whether they gain knowledge, but in order to make a decision of that magnitude they would have to have some knowledge in the first place, and if they have full choice over whether they gain knowledge how do they gain this initial knowledge. Also, that if they opted out of having knowledge inflicted upon them, how would that be enforced? It would be impossible to guarantee that these people would ever gain knowledge. Thirdly and finally, at what point would society say that a person could opt out of knowledge: would it be when they are 5 years old, and starting school? When they leave school? It would be impossible to say.

In conclusion, TOK is not necessary for the 21st century international student because it teaches nothing that would not otherwise be learnt through day-to-day life, this is shown through my real life situations, which I have put in this essay. To imply that TOK is the only way to gain critical thinking and an open mind is absurd. I feel that I am no more open minded than before I started TOK, and in fact it is very possible to say that I am now less open minded than I was due to the fact I frequently disregard everything said in TOK due to its commonly rude, incorrect and offensive nature. The fact that I have been told my religious views are those of an idiot, has caused to disregard others opinions within the class, because I feel insulted and therefore I see no reason why I should not throw away others opinions as rude poppycock.


“The Knowledge And Skills That I Develop In TOK Are Useful In My Life”

I personally agree with the statement since the knowledge and skills that I developed in Tok have been frequently useful in my life. By participating in the Tok course I know that there are 6 areas of knowledge, I know that many times things can be interpreted in different ways and most important of all I learned how to answer questions including knowledge issues.
By participating in the Tok course I developed new skills, first of all I developed my critical and creative thinking skills a lot, I am able to get deeper in my thoughts and develop my answers in a better way. Other important skills I developed are being able to assess prior knowledge, which means how I as a student will process and integrate new information, which will affect how I remember, think, apply, and create new knowledge.

In Tok I also learned about the ways of knowing.  The Ways of knowing are things such as faith, imagination, intuition, emotion and so on. The ways of knowledge can be applied to almost every knowledge questions and in the following paragraph I will give some examples.

Every question you ask yourself can make more sense if you look at it from a different perspective. Lets take an example “historical perspectives”, quite clearly the areas of knowledge and the ways of knowledge linked to these issue is the history. Eventually you can develop some knowledge questions such as, should everyone be forced to learn history? Does history really help us to progress? To counter claim this statement lest take as an example the current situation in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government agreed with Russia to not take part in the European Union, this caused political tensions in most of Europe and most of the Ukrainian citizens started a protest against the government. There are already 26 victims killed by the police because of protests and the fights are continuing which will probably cause even more victims. Due to the events that occurred in the history of Russia and Ukraine, now Ukraine has to collaborate with Russia in order to keep good relations and keep receiving help from them. The terrific situation that the media is constantly reporting about definitely doesn’t show that the history of this country helped the Ukrainian society to progress.

Another statement you could Asses is “ the past isn’t a foreign country”, also in this case the Aok and Wok relate to history. To what extent is the present defined by past events? Can we make definitive judgments about the results of past events?  By looking at this questions we can look at things such as the ways that the consequence of world war one are still affecting politics in many countries and how the struggle for an independent state demonstrates the way in which past events can resonate in the modern day.
 Another interesting topic, which has come up in the media, recently is “what colors is the past”; this topic relates to history as the previous ones but has also some links to the sense perceptions and the arts.  The knowledge questions that first comes into my head are for example, how does color affect our perception? How does it change our knowledge of history to make events from the past more ‘immediate’? A new trend on social media is the coloring of images showing historical events and characters. Seeing these in a different light makes them far more immediate and engaging, but this gallery leads us on to a discussion of whether we should manipulate such images in order to change our perception of the past. In the past pictures only existed in black and white, but nowadays we can also see dose same pictures in color and this I think can effect our emotion. For example seeing a man dead covered in blood represented by a strong red color will influence me much more than simply seeing a man in black and white lying dead on the floor.  This is because red is a very emotionally intense color and it can be associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love.
Now it’s time to draw some conclusion from the above discussions, “is the knowledge and the skills I learn in took useful in my life”. Above I have showed different examples of how we can apply Tok in real life questions and how it gives us new ways of thinking about those particular issues. What you learn from Tok can be applied in every area of knowledge which means there are a big range of jobs linked to it, for example being and historian or archeologist, this will link to the history, or if you work in finance or as an accountant this is linked to the Aok mathematics. In every job you do Tok can be applied and therefore its useful in our lives. As my examples above show also the ways of knowing such emotion and perception occur continuously in our lifetime and play a big role in the decision we take everyday.


Theory or Knowledge (TOK) is a course taught in the International Baccalaureate Programme which aim is to help students discover the richness of knowledge, and how empowering it can be. Also, how this knowledge is built up, examined and evaluated by individuals and societies. It also helps reinforce the idea that there are many different ways of thinking, perspectives and assumptions. This is something really important for a 21st century international student because, as international students, their contact with society in an international scale is going to be, supposedly, major. This international character of communicating with many other cultures will become easier if, during the person’s years of study, the student attends a subject where they are taught to see other people’s point of views, as this is something essential when contacting other cultures. This value is especially useful in the 21st century as globalisation is happening, and the communication between cultures has been greatly enhanced.

But do international students really need to learn all this? In my opinion, no. At the age of study of the IB diploma (16-18 approx.), we already know that there are many different ways of thinking, perspectives and assumptions, and the few people who don’t, will soon discover it as they are attending an international school. But then, if TOK doesn’t teach us anything we already know, what does TOK really serve for? In my personal experience, it improves the skill of exposing an argument to a group. Another thing it teaches us, is that, since it is the only class that combines all areas of knowledge and ways of knowing (contrary to physics, for example, which only uses natural sciences and mathematics, and language and reason), this means that we are able to apply different knowledge from different areas to things we’ve never applied them to before. This leads us to the conclusion that TOK doesn’t teach us what it is meant to teach us, but it does teach us something.

Another of TOK’s aim is to develop better critical thinking skills on students, critical thinking skills are basically skills which enable us to tell whether a claim is true, partially true, or false. This skill is very useful, especially in the 21st century. This is because with the media and the internet, the stream of information and knowledge we are exposed to on a daily basis is tremendous, because of this, being able to tell whether a claim is true or false, is really important nowadays. Let’s say that a person is surfing the Internet without critical thinking skill. He wouldn’t last very long, as he would probably start trying to claim his “I-Pad won for being the millionth visitor of the webpage”. He would also be easily brainwashed by the media as most of it is biased and contains false information. This situation is emphasised even more when the person isn’t just any person, but an international student. An international student will be either developing, or will have developed already an interest in issues of global importance, which means he will be reading information and knowledge from people from other cultures. People from other cultures have usually a different point of view, and when someone with different point of view formulates a knowledge claim, telling whether these claims are true or false becomes a harder task. Let’s make an example, if your friend from school tells you that life is hard, you can tell whether it is true or false, you attend to the same school, and you more or less know what his private life is like, if a person who you just met coming from Laserland, a place you have never been to before, claims that life is hard, you can’t tell whether this claim is true or false. This is where TOK comes in, not only does it teach us critical thinking, it also allows us to analyse these claims in relation to other knowledge we possess. If we know where this country is placed, we could more or less tell whether life is hard there or not.

Another reason why TOK can be useful is because it helps the student question what he is learning. This is a very useful thing as most of the time students digest knowledge without actually question whether it is right or wrong. This skill doesn’t only allow the student to perhaps find out about wrong knowledge being transmitted to him, but it also allows for great self-reflection. By self-reflection I mean reflecting about how the knowledge that one is digesting relates to everything, this is an essential learning outcome of TOK as this is how we discover our opinion about a lot of things in life.

In conclusion, TOK is a very useful part of the course in which even though the students don’t learn what they are meant to, they learn very important things that can help them greatly both while they’re studying at the present, and in their future lives.


The Jewish-German poet Berthold Auerbach famously asked, two centuries ago, “What is all our knowledge worth? We do not even know what the weather is tomorrow.”[1] He has a point: we prize the knowledge that we gain and the process of gaining knowledge (education) seems to be so important that it has, over the centuries, become a cornerstone of our society, as seen in the textbooks carved into rocks to teach mathematics in Iraq four millennia ago, to the universities of Athens three millennia ago, to the Roman schools two millennia ago, to the educational medieval writings of Thomas Aquinas a millennium ago, [2] to the 21st Century “role model” International Baccalaureate diploma, whose Theory of Knowledge course specifically aims to allow students to appreciate the interpretive and intricate nature of knowledge, thus able to apply this knowledge across more fields with “greater awareness and credibility.”[3] While each of these examples originate from differing ages and cultures, all of them are similar in that they seek to allow the next generation, us, to gain a greater and more credible understanding, or, simplified, gain more “true” knowledge. Yet, despite six thousand years of gaining knowledge, of sharing knowledge, of understanding knowledge, we seem to have no clearer understanding of who we are or what our future entails, or, as put by Auerbach, we still don’t know tomorrows weather. Although one can analyse any of these educational systems, as the IB Theory of Knowledge course is the one most relevant to me as a student study in a 21st century International School, I shall analyse this course so as to determine whether, given that there is no obviously irrefutable evidence disproving Auerbach’s claim that the knowledge we garner is of no use to us and our daily lives, whether the Theory of Knowledge course is nevertheless useful; or, in other words, is there a practical use for understanding the nature of knowledge?
    To attempt to understand a practical use for the understanding of the nature of knowledge, let us regard a debate that is of huge recent importance within Germany, especially with regards to young, foreign students, the debate concerning dual citizenship within Germany and approach it from the angle that the IB Theory Of Knowledge course, as far as I can tell, wants me to approach it. Immediately, as a first step, the Theory of knowledge course requires us to classify the ideas debated within this topic within one of its so called “Areas of Knowledge,” which consist of eight highly generalised categories headed by titles such as ethics, history and natural sciences. Now, considering this topic deals with ourselves, politics and how we choose to identify human classes, an initial thought would be due file the debate under the Social Sciences, the more subjective of the sciences that deals with the study of human society. Nevertheless, this is problematic, as this debate could also be seen as a process that has to do with decision making, namely the German government’s decision whether holders of dual-citizenship should be allow to keep to citizenships and the process of moral decision making is a lot closer connected to the area of ethics. Then again, as we are considering peoples’ cultural identity and communities, perhaps we should file this debate under the (rather pretentious) heading of “Indigenous Knowledge Systems”. Now, it could be argued that this immediate difficulty to determine the nature of what is, in essence, a very straightforward and heatedly debated subject that has gripped the nation and affected the lives of thousands of its citizens[4], is a good thing for a student of Theory of Knowledge, as it immediately demonstrates the subjectivity of the knowledge present: without even knowing the details, the multitude of ways that an issue can be approached by is demonstrative of how knowledge is changeable, able to be interpreted in so many different ways simply by how we regard this knowledge and therefore teaching us a valuable lesson: that we, as active and compassionate problem solving students[5], must realise that the way we approach an issue or debate affects the way we view and choose to interpret the knowledge we shall thus gain. Then again, to counter this “lesson”, we can ask: ‘What knowledge?’ As evidenced by the extreme shortage of citations in this very paragraph, we have barely even considered this debate: we don’t know what the central arguments are, what evidence each side has given, nor even the extent to which an agreement has been reached. This entire discussion is based on the title of the debate, the limited idea that is portrayed to us through its language, and the confusion of the student in trying to interpret this simple concept being presented through the wording: “A debate about the right to Dual-Citizenship”. As a result, rather than the IB teaching us a vital lesson through these “Areas of Knowledge”, it could just as easily be argued that the IB is pre-emptively overcomplicating what should be a simple process. Whereas normally we would look at this subject, think ‘oh, this is a socio-political debate concerning cultural diversity’ and, armed with this understanding, moved on to doing some hard research, the earnest Theory of Knowledge student is left desperately trying to figure out which Area of Knowledge to file this debate under for his essay and, let down by the highly vague and general nature of terms as open as ‘ethics’ or ‘social sciences’, is left with four hundred words of confusion, unable to even progress to the “meat” of the debate due to this confusion, simply because the IB insists on ordering knowledge, which it itself describes as highly subjective, into fixed and inflexible categories. So, while on the one hand the “Areas of Knowledge” presented by the Theory of Knowledge course provides a highly generalised (read vague) framework for our basic comprehension of the type of debate present, it seems, rather than clarifying matters, only to confuse the approach to the debate still further, something that is not particularly practical to someone, whose interest in this debate involves finding a resolution, as opposed to finding a philosophical debate.
    The second and, importantly, final step that the Theory of Knowledge course takes when considering a debate (let us keep with this dual-citizenship debate), is to analyse the debate through the perspective of the eight “Ways of Knowing.” Similar to the “Areas of Knowledge”, the “Ways of Knowing” are categories that we attempt to order the content in this debate under, however, unlike the “Areas of Knowledge”, here we attempt to understand through what means we are reaching and creating the arguments present within the debate. Immediately, this seems far more encouraging concerning the problem solving practice of using Theory of Knowledge in a practical context, as we are directly regarding the content within the debate. For example, let us consider the conservative argument that “People who receive German citizenship must be part of our society.”[6] Now, on the one hand, we could regard this argument as stemming from feelings of patriotism, a belief that people in a nation have a duty to assimilate and remain as a part of Germany.”[7] Arguments created through feelings of patriotism and national pride would be classified, by a Theory of Knowledge student, as an emotional Way of Knowing. On the other hand, the liberal pro-Dual Citizenship argument that it would be racist to deny other cultures a national identity, even if they are residents in another culture[8] would be seen as an argument that, upon a set of given evidence, has been deduced by logic, thus causing the bright-eyed Theory of Knowledge student to classify it as knowledge procured by reasoning. Thus, it can be seen that depending on what approach we take upon a debate, we come up with different arguments that may decide what side of the debate we take. This recognition allows the Theory of Knowledge student to better analyse a subject, as he now can recognise how he has come up with his current argument and that, as a direct implication of this, the Theory of Knowledge student is better able to make a decision through the recognition of the nature of the subjectivity of the knowledge he is currently considering. However, how does this, practically, help me? If I were considering what side of the argument to take, then a value judgement has to be made between the arguments. Recognizing how I have reached this knowledge, on the one hand, allows me to make a better informed judgement, as, taking myself as an example, if I value logical reasoning over emotional arguments, understanding that an argument is based upon a logical foundation allows me to immediately decide which argument I, personally, choose to agree with. On the other hand, making a value judgement between different arguments is translated almost directly, through the Theory of Knowledge “Ways of Knowing” , into making a value judgement between the personal value of different Ways of Knowing that the various arguments that have been previously categorised into. Through this process, we may disregard intricacies within the information not appreciated by the process that the Theory of Knowledge course takes. For example, consider the aforementioned statement: “It would be racist to deny young foreign citizens the chance to maintain a separate cultural identity.” Immediately, we saw that this argument had been built upon evidence provided by the German constitution and theses based on the concepts of human rights and consequently we immediately consider this knowledge acquired through logical reasoning. However, by filing this away such as this, we fail to consider whether the connections that we have drawn are, in fact logically based or, such as when we make a connection between the human right to free belief and the right to hold a legal separate cultural identity, we are making this supposedly logically based connection through emotion, intuition or even imagination. Therefore, while understanding that how we acquire knowledge affects the nature of our arguments and accordingly the perspective we choose to assume, the Theory of Knowledge course, through this process, also may brush over or inadvertently disregard certain assumptions that could affect and even the undermine this process. Furthermore, while understanding how we acquire knowledge does in part help us make informed decisions, for the realisation that the “Ways of Knowing” provide, that knowledge, depending on one’s approach, varies and changes (i.e. its subjective), allows us to better understand the nature of the different arguments that we are dealing with, at the same time the fact that at the end of the process, a value judgement still has to be made on the behalf of the student, indicates that while Theory of Knowledge may help us, it by no means solves our problems, or, following Auerbach, tell us tomorrow’s weather.
    So, is there an alternative? Well, let us consider the process that I would take without the “guidance” of the IB Theory of Knowledge course when approaching  this highly important and relevant issue, or indeed any issue, including how to deal with university fees continuing to rise in 2013,[9] or falling job opportunities in the future.[10] Now, free of the Theory of Knowledge course, my first step concerning how to approach any of these debates would be to briefly review the general context of the issue. For example, concerning the debate about falling job opportunities, I would examine the general economic climate, the machinations of the labour market and recent labour laws or policies made by the government. This would, continuing with this example, include briefly reviewing related debates, such as the senate debating unemployment benefits and whether these should be extended.[11] In some ways, this contextual review is similar to examining the Areas of Knowledge in the Theory of Knowledge course, however rather than examining what type of knowledge we are dealing with, this review focuses on the general facts present and the realisation of what type of issue this is, is only considered, but not formally recognised and analysed. The second step is to then consider the multiple, oft opposing arguments within the debate itself. This generally involves contrasting two perspectives such as, in the example of rising tuition fees, the perspective of students and their reasons for protesting the rising costs and the perspective of the universities and how they are trying to find additional funding following government austerity measures and funding cuts.[12] This process differs from the analysis of “Ways of Knowing”, as it focuses more on what the content claims as opposed to how it is thought of or “created”. This difference thus leads directly into the final step, something that I feel is highly important, yet remains remarkably absent from the Theory of Knowledge syllabus, which is the answering of the question: what relevance does this have upon me and how should I act as a consequence? Naturally, this step is more often then not made purely within the mind and none of it is formal, however, it is still important in that it makes the knowledge I’ve acquired have some meaning for me in the future, thus, in part, helping me to predict tomorrow’s weather. Let me demonstrate. Consider this issue of dual citizenship. Having decided that, as a foreigner currently possessing two citizenships in Germany, I support the argument for dual-citizenship, I would then look to support agencies in favour of this motion and, when the time comes, perhaps vote for the SPD, as they seem, in this instance, to be catering towards my interests. This taking of multiple perspectives, resolving it personally and taking action base upon it is something that seems virtually non-existent within the IB Theory of Knowledge course; indeed, the IB itself states that it is more interested in students understanding that knowledge is biased and subjected, “regardless whether these biases are retained, revised or rejected.” This begs the question as to how this is useful, considering that if we were to disregard what we do with our newly analysed knowledge, how is it we are to thus use it better? We’re not doing anything with it.
    The Theory of Knowledge course attempts to teach students that knowledge is subjective. It provides a framework that supposedly portrays to us that if you look at knowledge in different ways, you get different results. What the Theory of Knowledge course fails to do in any certain terms is to provide any clear guidelines as what to do with our analysis once we’re done with it. The IB provides a series of vague categories that we group knowledge under, presumably to “allow” us to better recognise the type and nature of this knowledge, however the limitations of these categories undermine even this. That, however is not the central problem. The central, overarching problem is that the Theory of Knowledge course only seeks to ask us more questions, rather than trying to provide answers. It asks us to question what we know, how we know it and why we see it as knowledge. While this is interesting from an academic standpoint, in terms of a pragmatic, practical use, this merely complicates a debate that, already urgent, doesn’t need complication. This essay has 1500 words trying to tackle a problem through the usage of the IBs convoluted criteria, yet the end resolution was based on a value judgement all to similar to one reached by means of a simple, step by step and flexible process determined as much by common sense as it is by any formal description. To conclude, while reaching the understanding that knowledge is subjective is almost certainly achieved by the IB Theory of Knowledge course, the rational value of this recognition seems more than debatable, as this recognition seems to lead more towards confusion, as opposed to a desired resolution. The IB seeks to educate students that will change our world, yet it seems difficult to implement any change, when one is too busy debating whether a decision is based upon logical reasoning with consideration for ethics, or an emotional assumption made with approach towards indigenous knowledge systems.


[1] "Thoughts On The Business Of Life." Thoughts and Quotes: What Is All Our Know... Forbes.com LLC, 2014. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.

[2] Tate, Bryan. "A History of Education Timeline." A History of Education Timeline. Webalon Ltd, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.

[3] "Diploma Programme Curriculum—core Requirements." IB Diploma Programme Curriculum, Theory of Knowledge. International Baccalaureate Organization®, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2014

[4] Naumann, Nils. "Dual Citizenship Is a Touchy Subject in Germany." DW.DE. Deutsche Welle, 9 Nov. 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

[5] "Mission and Strategy." IB Mission and Strategy. International Baccalaureate Organization®, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

[6] Gezer, Özlem, Peter Müller, Maximilan Popp, and Jörg Schindler. "German Efforts at Dual Citizenship Hit Crossroads." SPIEGEL ONLINE. Trans. Charles Hawley. Der Spiegel, 5 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

[7] Hawley, Charles. "Dual Citizenship Question Becomes German Campaign Issue." SPIEGEL ONLINE. Der Spiegel, 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.

[8] "SPD Wants Wage Floor, Dual Citizenship Included in German Coalition Deal." EurActiv.com. Reuters, 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.

[9] Burns, Judith. "Student Fees May Reach £20,000, Argues Vice-chancellor." BBC News. BBC, 11 July 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.

[10] Boyd, Katie. "Bleak Jobs Report Shows High Joblessness." Speaker of the House: John Boerner. Speaker.gov, 6 Sept. 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.

[11] Everett, Burgess, and Manu Raju. "Progress in Senate Unemployment Debate." Politico.com. Politico, 29 Jan. 2014. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.

[12] Snowden, Christopher. "'Further Funding Cuts Could Damage Universities'" The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 22 Jan. 0041. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.


Theory of knowledge enables one to be critical of that one knows or at least thinks to know. It gives a student differing perspectives as to how knowledge can be obtained and exposes a student to the inherent limitations of acquiring knowledge. One must first consider for sake of establishing an argument on this title what the definition of an international student is. I am of the opinion that he who learns in a country, which is foreign to him, qualifies in the literal sense of an international student. But, stating that somebody is an international student extends beyond just this in that it could mean he has a greater respect and consideration for people living in different cultural circumstances. I think the IBO is a testament to how students can be united with equal opportunities and an access to education. The course, theory of knowledge allows for recognition of such. Essentially, TOK makes students more aware of their place in the world. I am very critical of the fact that TOK is only important to the international student, as it should apply to all students. Additionally, to qualify one as more of an international student than another is purely immature and rubbish remark. People do not have the same ability to travel, but a domestic student can, also acquire the same qualities an international student gains through such. They can create qualities of awareness and openness within the context of their own community and country. I personally think this question lacks depth to be considered a TOK prescribed title. In what way do religious knowledge systems and human sciences and history affect the significance of TOK towards students? The previous statement identified my knowledge question. Likewise, my knowledge issue questions to what extent is TOK valuable towards international students? In attempt to answering my knowledge issue, I will use TOK’S ways of knowing and Areas of knowledge to make sense of what this question may lead me to encounter.
I know that TOK helps us question our historical biases. In the previous claim, I used history as an area of knowledge, while using reasoning in the following sentence to make sense. I know that TOK helps international students question their knowledge because it is a principle of TOK. A real life example that will clarify and support my claim from personal experiences is the following. One of the principles of TOK is to teach us how to think critically. Through thinking critically we can question whether an historic statement is true such as, as the happening of the 1989 massacre in China. Instead of acknowledging this, critical thinkers of the IB, would question whether this is reasonably true or false. As my counter claim, I know that International students are aware of historical biases. In attempt to reinforce my claim through reasoning, for instance, through personal knowledge, I as an international student with international experience can differentiate between biased Information. Real life example of this would be the media censorship in C
China, where students that have studied abroad, international students can understand historical moments that are censored in china, in which they have been previously acknowledged in other places, opposed to students that have not been abroad, who will not know about the correct history such as, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, where these students are unaware of this knowledge that has been muddled, where the Chinese government intends to hide its  weaknesses. This implies that motives to learning TOK, to acknowledging biases of knowledge is useless, where international students have previous experience in understanding and noticing distorted information because they have a global perspective. So the sole argument of International students gaining international mindedness has collapsed on itself. Relating back to my Knowledge issue, I would like to point out that to some extent, TOK is not achieving its intended purpose, because international students are aware of their surrounding biases within a historical context.
I know that TOK assists international students in questioning their religious knowledge systems. I know this through reasoning. The TOK course states that knowledge begins with a question. We will be asking questions so that we can better understand the world, others and ourselves. An example of this would be myself. I know that as an atheist, that as I question my religion, I gain a greater understanding of the religion. On the other hand, as my counter claim, I know that some international students are limited to questioning their religion. Reason being, people are not open to answering questions on “how do you know”. A real life example: during class would be when I realized that a Jewish student felt uncomfortable on the subject of questioning religious beliefs. I know about this moment through memory. The fact that she felt uncomfortable, I know through emotion. So, because the religious feel discomforted on the subject of religious knowledge systems, this area of knowledge has limitations. So to the extent where this AOK limits questioning, is the point, at which it devaluates the importance of TOK towards international students.
In advance to my next claim, I must point out that only students from 16 to 19 years of age participate in the IB program, which is the only program that holds TOK.  Knowing this from language, I can infer that students that do this program, who have traveled in their past, who are classified as international students, are aware of other peoples perspectives on an international scale. So, I know that TOK helps international students question their human sciences: understanding of how people and societies work. Through reason, I know that TOK helps students question their knowledge. A real life example, to support my claim would be that when it is said that a bank is in trouble, people usually rush to take out their money thereby causing the bank to fail. This self-fulfilling prophecy in economics is an example of how TOK can teach international students to question and critically understand human science in a way that they can make people or societies work better. A counter claim: the limitation of human science will cause a devaluation of TOK towards International students. My imagination has brought me to develop this claim. An example of this is, that when I, an international student get observed when make decisions, an overlooking feel of being observed causes a difference in my behaviour.  A way of knowing would be intuition, where I know that I would instinctively behave in this certain way when I become observed. Ways in which TOK can teach international students to be critical thinkers along the lines of human science has its limitations, where students are observed, where there normal actions differ from their behaviours when not under surveillance. The limitations of TOK devaluates the importance of it towards international students, leaning towards the idea that it should not be promoted. 
            In the previous sections, I have explored areas of knowledge such as Human sciences, Religious knowledge systems, and History. I have also incorporated Ways of knowing like memory, intuition and imagination etc.… In this, I have established a relationship between AOK’s and WOK’s to allow knowledge to become more translucent by questioning it. To get to the point where I question knowledge, limitations, biases tend to always follow. These things weaken TOK in a way that they devaluate the values TOK give students. The real reason TOK is not of great significance to international students is that international students are already open minded. They already have a global perspective that minimizes their biases. To put myself into another persons shoes, in this case, a kid that is not international, I would know that this kid would be narrow-minded in some way, because he has not physically seen places around the world, where TOK will be of greater use to him. The important thing to deduce about this Essay is that TOK is less important to international students in a way that it is less beneficial to them.


An international student is exceptionally hard to define.  One could say it means one who travels to another country for the whole purpose of studying, as according to the Webster Dictionary.  However, many students live in the same country as they do IB in, for example German citizens in BIS, or schools that teach IB in rural areas.  A more acceptable definition would be those who are internationally aware, and this is what TOK and the IB strives to teach us.  I intend to answer this through splitting it into two parts, discussing the importance of ToK and then how it affects international students. 
Since TOK is at the centre of the IB hexagon, you can use reasoning to deduce that it is a very important part of IB, according to the administration of the program.  However, if it’s such an important part of the program, why is it taught only 3 times every two weeks, and barely, if at all, explored in other subjects.  A knowledge question can stem from this:  How can you truly learn something, without being exposed to it?  Using the Area of Knowledge of natural sciences, we know that it is not possible to learn essential tasks important for life without experience. For example, you only learn to walk through failed attempts.  Although it is possible for other animals, like elephants to be able to walk almost immediately after being born, it’s very rare for us humans.  Using memory, I remember my baby cousin fumbling and falling trying to learn how to walk, while running into the corners of coffee tables and stubbing his toe.  This is the act of learning in progress.  It’s simply not possible for us to learn how to do something without being exposed to it.  However, it is possible for us to be able to do something without ‘learning.’ For example, you can use a pen without practicing or writing before, by watching others, but even with this, you will not suddenly be able to draw and write. 

This is exactly what Jussie Smollett claims that ToK is doing.  He argues that we are lectured and shown how to do things through aimless large group sessions, that don’t even have significant amounts of personalised discussion with others.  It’s not this only ‘class’ that is flawed, but the entire IB in general.  ToK is rarely, if ever mentioned in other classes.  In most of our textbooks there are ToK sections at the end of every chapter, however they are consistently ignored by teachers and seen as a waste of time.  For example, in Economics while learning about different models of economies, there could be a great deal of discussion about how the authors came up with their theories through various AoKs and WoKs.  For example, one can observe from History where one  theory worked and another didn’t, or create models through the use of mathematics and reasoning.  However, we are informed that we don’t have time to cover ToK in class and should be kept in the respected lesson.  Since the IB is giving so much work, it is not possible to have enough time to discuss ToK in other lessons.  This leads to not fully understanding what ToK is, how it’s useful, how to do it, etc.  Using this line of reasoning, you can deduce that it is not important since the IB seems to prioritise other things in front of ToK.  This may not be true, however.  They may encourage the use of ToK in other lessons, but schools choose to ignore since it’s seen as a ‘waste of time.’  If the IB really thought it is important, they would have much more oversight over it being taught, and possibly even put certain ToK discussion questions in tests in other subjects. 

In the question, there is an emphasize on ‘international student.’  For an, internationally aware student, it’s important to be able to understand other cultures and how they may be different.  This is where ToK is important.  Through the use of Human Sciences, we see that many IB graduates become important in the international world, such as Jorma Ollila (former CEO of Nokia), Mohamed Nasheed (President of the Maldives), and Kim Jong-Un (Dictator of North Korea).  Using intuition, it seems as though these leaders are because of the IB, which encompasses ToK, which teaches critical thinking.  However, it may be due to other factors.  For example, Kim Jong-Un did not become in power because he took IB, but because he was next in line for the dictatorship.  We also know from history that international people not always use skills taught in ToK, and still succeed.  This shows that the skills taught in the class are not important, and thus ToK as a whole is not important.

Many people will disagree on this topic, coming from different places, and being in different positions.  For example, the head’s of IB must think that ToK is a fantastic thing to have on the program, while students may think it is a tremendous waste of time and energy.  It is important though, to discuss this question to further identify what needs to be fixed, what works well in ToK,  how to get the most out of it, or if we need it at all. 

Socrates once said, “True knowledge exists in knowing you know nothing.” He was likely among the first men on earth to reach that conclusion, or if not, at least he became well known in history for it. Theory of Knowledge supports that concept by teaching international students, through the IB, to question their own knowledge and to support their claims using ways of knowing and areas of knowledge. However, how does this skill contribute to our future as a 21st century international student? As part of the IB course, students are required to take TOK throughout the two years until graduation. Your grade in Theory of Knowledge can decide whether or not you get the diploma, so it must be important if it plays such a significant role in the development of your future. Now why has the International Baccalaureate board decided this should be the case?

 According to the OECD, an international student is a student who has “crossed borders for the specific purpose of studying”. The definition of an international student varies in different countries, cultures, and among individuals. For example in Japan, an international student is defined as “a student from a foreign country who is receiving education at any Japanese university, …”. If there are so many different opinions on what an international student is, how can we accurately judge the impact TOK has made on an international student? Many students who partake in the IB in a different country to the one they are originally from, have moved due to changes in one or both of their parents’ careers, which would mean they are not “international students” by the OECD definition. I happen to be one of the people who have moved to different countries due to changes in my dad’s career. Other students may not have even crossed their own borders, but are attending international schools, does that make them any less international students? Using reason and language I am able to make a judgement based on my personal experiences. In my opinion, I am an international student as I have lived in three different countries and currently speak four languages, however I do not qualify as one according to the definition given by the OECD. By using my personal experiences, I believe international students should be defined as students who have studied in an environment that is influenced by multiple cultures. By being able to define what an international student is it’s easier to manufacture an opinion on the impact that learning Theory of Knowledge has had on them.

Whether or not we find Theory of Knowledge important is down to what kind of importance this is. If we were required to explain why TOK is important to our survival, using reason I could easily disagree, as being able to question our own knowledge would not be very useful in a life or death situation. However, if we were rating TOK’s importance to our future education and careers, I would concur that it is an important skill to know. Theory of Knowledge gives students a chance to be open-minded and explore their imaginations by questioning topics they never gave a second thought to about questioning before. The IB Diploma Programme recognises Theory of Knowledge as “an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature of knowledge”. All students are able to come to reasonable conclusions through the deep analysis of global issues. Theory of Knowledge however, gives students the opportunity to build their own opinion based on their past experiences, knowledge acquired and their upbringing. Although TOK can be quite tedious at times, it teaches students to have different perspectives and to be able to support them, whilst also teaching students to appreciate other peoples’ views. Assuming that by importance, the question is referring to an international student’s future education and career, Theory of Knowledge is important because it provides life long skills that are essential when building a career. International students who are provided with the opportunity to learn TOK are given a head start when getting to real life. 

Theory of Knowledge gives students the opportunity to question everything. As an example, I discussed in a paragraph above the meaning of an international student in order to answer this question. It is only after I’ve had classes in TOK that I truly appreciate the concept of questioning our own knowledge. Society has set unspoken rules about knowledge: Theory of Knowledge is our chance to question them. Acknowledging a real life example, I could possibly talk about same sex marriage. Why should it be any different for people to marry whether or not they are of the same sex or different? Using human sciences I can determine that people of the same sex and people of opposite sex are still people. They have a skeleton, a brain, a heart, etc. Society shouldn’t have the right to prevent people from marrying just because they are the same gender. Over millennia, humans have developed to the society we are today. Every day each of us has to embrace change of some sort: wearing a different colour tie, walking home a different route, cooking a new meal, … Our memory and history can attest to the change the world has had to face, sometimes it’s for the better and sometimes it’s for the worse, even then it depends on people’s views of better or worse. Theory of Knowledge aids us in finding out who we are as people and our roles within society, it gives us an opportunity to strengthen or change our beliefs.

The International Baccalaureate board recognises the potential of Theory of Knowledge and acknowledges its role within society. Is the two years of gruelling Theory of Knowledge really worth it though? I think it is. Although not many of us recognise the importance TOK plays in our future, it gives us an advantage over many other people. It teaches us in two years what it takes years for people to understand: that knowledge and the acquisition of knowledge should never be taken for granted. No single person has the exact same viewpoint as someone else, each has been influenced by different factors over their lifetime and they should be able to recognise the roles these have played in making them the people they are today.

Works Cited:
"Diploma Programme Curriculum—core Requirements." IB Diploma Programme Curriculum, Theory of Knowledge. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.
"International Students in Japan 2011-JASSO." International Students in Japan 2011-JASSO. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.
"Regional News." WENR, September 2009: Feature. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.
"Theory of Knowledge Guide." Theory of Knowledge Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.


Automatically this question is taking into account that the students are international students or maybe even western international students. What is the definition of an international student? I think an international student is a student that works and learns together with other students from different places, one that speaks more than one language and a student who thinks internationally (open-minded etc). An international student must be able to adapt to his or her surrounding and respect different cultures. I am an international student that is German and has grown up in china. This gives me the advantage to understand the mind-set of Asian countries. These countries would never be able to understand the thinking style of Europeans etc. This is because of their culture and religion. The question also assumes that Theory of knowledge is important, which can be argued against in my opinion. However I will choose to argue for this claim. I will interpret this statement with a high form of importance to the young minds of the 21st century international student. However there are still problems with 21st century international students, these are still young and so it is hard for them to take on such big confrontations. Perspective is still and issue, this is due to the deficit of interaction with the local community in foreign countries. If I would have only stayed in school in china then I would have never been able to fully understand these people. What I mean by this is that to many things are still theoretical in this generation and there for there can not be an “ultimate” (perfect) 21st century international student! There are multiple ways and perspectives, however it is hard to find them and use them effectively, this leads to my knowledge question: To what extent does knowledge give use the ability to be “International”?

Theory of knowledge (TOK) gives us tools to solve specific questions and problems, with this come gained knowledge, skills, awareness, identifying knowledge etc. This knowledge comes from the participation in TOK! The results in participating in TOK is creating a mature and thoughtful mind-set. An international student must not only be mature (When I was in china and communicating with people, I must be very thoughtful and mature of what I say, things may be miss interpreted and can easy result in a conflict) this is not only on a personal scale this is also on a national and international scale, there have been many wars that have be of result of miss-interpretation. TOK allows a student to identify different knowledge and their uses. This creates awareness and respect for the interaction with it. TOk most certainly gives us the knowledge and tools to think critically at scenarios and real life examples; If I was in charge of the military and there are two options, if I take option A it will let down the local people, however it will be good for us, if I choose option B it will be good for the local people but not beneficial to us.

TOK serves international students the ability to identify and us ways of knowing. For this knowledge that TOK has given us (points above). The ways of knowing for this knowledge are language, different languages have different ways of thinking in them. Language also communicate differently and serve different meaning, being international means that we learn this and so we gain knowledge out of this. As international students that under go TOK will be able to imagine the consequences for example. To think critically one must also have sense perception, to understand which action will be best, What is the correct decision. Students in the 21st century  often do not gain, respect and understand different culture and religion, therefore TOK gives international minded students religious knowledge that they have gained through pears and history., religious knowledge is essential for an open minded, respectful student. Another  Area of knowledge that is identified through the result of participating in theory of knowledge  is history and ethics. People know what is right and wrong, bad and good however back to my example with the military and its options. In order to do what is ethically correct we most investigate deeper and analyse the situation.

Why is TOK important and to what extent does knowledge give us the ability to be international? Is because we develop skills to use this knowledge, we can now understand different knowledge systems and to see the different perspectives. For example Western views on the east and the other way around. The woks for this are sense perception; TOK gives us another angle in witch we feel and sense our surroundings, this is due to gained intellectual knowledge and TOK bringing this out in us. Faith is another reason how to view different cultures etc. One should have faith in creating a peaceful world.

However TOK does not teach to make a perfect international student and is not perfect to international students, this is for a simple reason, TOK only allows us to think in a very western and modern way, this can be beneficial but ultimate this can influence the perspectives the young students will choose to look at things. However TOK indirectly teaches one to but your self into that role. In a class with many other students I am the only one who has lived that long in Asia, therefore I can understand the logic and thinking of the Asian minds. Can theoretical knowledge be substituted in for “real” (primary gained knowledge)? I Think that when I hear people talk about Asia in any area of subject then I can tell if they have been there or not. Knowledge can not be replaced by theoretical knowledge. Of course in some areas etc., however in most cases not. I think that experiencing and understanding from first hand is a whole different experience and gives you a different way of thinking and views. When we have questions like; Is TOK important to the 21st century international student, then I think that there is a lot of theoretical knowledge discussed. TOK does not give me extra knowledge it gives me tools to handle this knowledge. This is ideal for international students however theoretical knowledge does not make us anymore international!

Knowledge gives us the ability to be international, however this does not mean “ultimate” international, this is because there are different areas of knowledge and different types of knowledge. This means that not all types of knowledge leads to perfect international mindedness, of course if we consider open-minded etc. In some areas we just cannot be perfectly international and so it is also not perfectly important for us. In the IB TOK does not show us the “big picture” which is not good at all, however TOK enable us to inquire all the skills in life to make the most positive and beneficial choice that we can make, this leading to a better life, future and society. Therefore TOK is not only important for the 21st century international student, it is essential and a key feature that everyone should have. As said before knowledge cannot make us perfectly international, since the areas and subjects of knowledge in which we gain it does not and cannot make us perfect. However knowledge that inquires the whole world and that does not leave western ideas to its own does make us international!


--> To celebrate the launch of Pearson Baccalaureate's NEW Theory of Knowledge 2nd edition textbook and eBook, we're inviting all IB Diploma students from around the world to produce a creative piece of work (an essay, poem, song, video or piece of art) answering the following question: Why is theory of knowledge important to the 21st century international student?

Before I even begin to agree or disagree with the above statement, I would like to give a brief explanation of what I believe TOK (Theory of Knowledge) is and what the definition of an international student is.
TOK attempts to explain ways of knowing in 8 categories: emotion, faith, imagination, intuition, language, memory, reason, sense perception as well as 8 areas of knowledge: the arts, ethics, history, the human sciences, indigenous knowledge systems, mathematics, the natural sciences, religious knowledge systems. It aims to “draw(s) together all the knowledge that is learned in other courses, and questions the validity of what we think we know”1. To do this we will discover, realize, examine, evaluate, reflect, reinforce, suggest. As you see right here, it is a vast endeavor and includes individual, societal, and cultural perspectives and it should leave us as empowered, lifelong, critical, open-minded learners who are not afraid to take responsibility.
Pearson is implying that any individual who participates in the IB Diploma program anywhere in the world is an international student, as that it who the question is directed to. This is quite the implication and so I was interested to find what the definition of an international student is.
There seems to be a lack of a definite definition as to what an international student is. This led me to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics’ (UIS) Global education digest, which refers to a international student as: “…internationally mobile student has left his or her country, or territory of origin, and moved to another country or territory with the singular objective of studying” (2006). Another take on the definition is the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) definition of an international students, as those, who travel to a country different from their own for the purpose of tertiary study. However most countries tend to decide individually, what they define as an international /foreign student.  2
There is definitely a noticeable trend among the definitions (see appendix1): An international student doesn’t have citizenship of the country and his/her sole purpose in the country is to study. However this conflicts with the claim made by Pearson, as many students that attend IB Diploma programs are not international students in that sense, but do so in their nation of origin. This I can say from personal experience using two ways of knowing: memory and sense perception as I currently attend an IB-School in Germany, where many people have German citizenship, and I attended an IB school in Saudi Arabia, where more then half the students where Saudi nationals. However I am under the impression that Pearson has its own definition of an international student according to the IB diploma program’s learner profile. If you learn enough English to follow a curriculum taught in English and follow the correct learner profile you are an international student. There are almost as many different stories behind why you attend an IB-School as there are students. I do however understand that Pearson is trying to ask:  How is TOK important to you?  

I feel that TOK is a very important class to have as it gives me a chance to understand from where I am contriving my knowledge. Before my introduction to TOK, I was rather oblivious to where I acquired my knowledge, but thanks to the TOK class I can now break down my knowledge and analyse the validity of it. I learn to question what I know and the class gives me a chance to hear and consider other students’ perspectives. Like many others at my school I have lived in numerous countries thought my education. Attending a class like TOK helps me  gain cultural awareness and understand that different people have different ideas and perspectives because of their different backgrounds, travels, life stories and culture.
On the other hand, TOK could also be seen as a huge waste of time, as it is not required in any other type of education. Theory can be brilliant but useless in everyday life. it is also very possible to over analyse simple ideas. The 100 hours required for the completion of the TOK course could arguably be put to better use such as expanding your knowledge in the hard sciences rather then reflecting upon it. Due to the openness of the TOK curriculum, it can be challenging for the student to understand the expectations and requirements.
However it can also be argued that some of the potentially negative views on TOK can be interpreted as its advantages. For example the openness of the TOK course can be an invitation for personal expression, individual growth through reflection.  As for the individuality of the TOK course in the IB only this adds uniqueness to any applications you may produce.
In conclusion I hold TOK in very high esteem, I think it is a great forum in which students such as myself can express themselves and explore new ideas, I think that having a class like TOK is an invaluable experience and I think all forms of education should invest in starting TOK classes as it make the students who part take a lot more culturally aware which is important for a better and brighter future especially in this time of interconnectedness, easy travel and global relations.       

1 http://www.theoryofknowledge.net/about/the-tok-course/what-are-the-aims-of-tok/

2 http://www.wes.org/ewenr/09sept/feature.htm

I found the following definitions in a PDF published by World Education News and Reviews (2007).
Australia: international students are defined as those studying onshore only with visa subclasses 570 to 575, excluding students on Australian funded scholarships or sponsorships or students undertaking study while in possession of other temporary visas.
Canada:  Foreign students are defined as temporary residents who have been approved by an immigration officer to study in Canada. Every foreign students must have a students authorization, but they may also be in possession of thither types of permits or authorization.    
France:  Foreign students are defined as foreign nationals who travel to France for the purpose of studying or long-term or permanent residents in possession of French secondary qualifications and who likely have French residency status.
Germany: foreign students are defined as mobile foreign students, those who travel to Germany specifically for study, and non-mobile foreign students, those in possession of German secondary school qualifications and who likely have German residency status.
Japan: international students are defined as foreign nationals who study at any Japanese university, graduates school, junior college, college of technology, professional training college or university preparatory course on a college student visa, as defined by the immigration control and refugee recognition act.
United kingdom: international students are defined as students who are not UK domiciled, and whose normal residence is either in countries which were European union members as of 1 December of the reporting period or whose normal residence prior to commencing their programs of study was outside the EU.
United States: Foreign students are defined as students who are enrolled at institutions of higher education in the US who are not citizens of the US, immigrants or refugees. These may include holders of F visas, H visas, J visas and M visas.


This extremely famous quote indicates that humans will generally not question any issue that is too hard for them to figure out. If a man tells another man that there is wet paint on a bench, the other man will try to prove him wrong, however most humans will not try to prove someone wrong if the issue is too hard to be proven, they will go along thinking that something is right without trying to use its senses and reasoning. Theory of Knowledge is the subject that does just that.
Theory of Knowledge is a subject that is taught in the International Baccalaureate Diploma in international Schools. Most students would say that it is the study of figuring out whether something is “right or wrong”. However theory of knowledge is the study of issues happening in the world and the fact that there is no valid answer to any question as there are many ways of approaching TOK.

The knowledge question that has been stated is: Why is theory of knowledge important to the 21st century international student? That question is extremely relevant because students are the future of the world, and need to be taught how to use their Ways of Knowing and Areas of Knowledge. In addition a recent study showed that the average person makes about 620 decisions a day and evidently has to be taught how to make right judgment for big and small verdicts.

However in my opinion the question should be stated: Why is theory of knowledge important to any student?  Everybody should be taught how to make decisions not just international students. Reasons for that are because TOK teaches students how to make rational decisions by using ways of knowing such as emotions, reason and sense perception; additionally it uses areas of knowledge such as history and ethics.  The history of the United States can show that many different people make rash decisions because of their beliefs, but if they had taken TOK they maybe would have thought differently or used reasoning and emotions in order to stop their actions. Let’s take three events amongst many others that happened in the history of the United States. The Columbine High School shooting in 1999, the terrorist attack that happened on September 11th 2001 and lastly, the Sandy Hook elementary School shooting that took place in 2012.

On April 20th 1999, two teenagers called Dyland Klebold and Eric Harris prepared to do a massacre at their high school. They had already looked up recipes for pipe bombs and other explosives. There was some disparity in whether the initial date for the massacre was set up to be on April 19th or April 20th, while April 19th happened to be the anniversary for the Oklahoma City Bombing, April 20th was also the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday. In the end the April 20th was the date that was set, which could have shown that the two teenagers liked the chancellor Adolf Hitler.
Many people thought that the two teenagers were being bullied by their peers which is the reason why they both decided to kill 13 innocent people and injure 24 others. Teachers could argue that if students had taken the subject of TOK they would have been able to use their intuition in order to realise that by killing and injuring people is definitely not the best way to solve their anger towards the students. These two students could have also had faith in their parents, friends or counsellor in order to take their anger out in another way than they did.
However many people thought that these two did have mental disabilities and which in this case would mean that even if TOK had been taught to them, they would not have been able to realise that theory of knowledge is helping them and is extremely important to them.

Another very big event that happened in the history of the United States is the infamously known 9/11 terrorist attacks. The September 11th attacks were a series of four attacks that were launched by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. 19 people hijacked four passenger airlines planes. According to the American physician, author and former politician, America is to blame for the September 11th attacks because the American intervention in the Middle East is the motivation behind the 9/11 attacks.
In my opinion if any of these hijackers had taken TOK, or not even taken the class but had used their ways of knowing by using emotions and reason they would have realised that by killing or injuring the thousands of casualties would have not been worth it for the outcome. By using their emotions and reason they would have realised that by having the United States against them could mean that a superpower would want to retaliate. No country should want the United States against them. Although as many know, culture and religion take over any actions that humans make. The group Al-Qaeda is associated with the Islamic religion that believes that the United States has been the enemy ever since it has been in Saudi Arabia from 1991 to 2003. Which implements the reason to why the terrorist attacks in 2001.

Lastly the last event that I will examine is the shooting that happened in Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. On December 14, 2012 Adam Lanza a, 20 year old man decided to penetrate the Sandy Hook elementary school after first killing his mom. He killed 27 elementary students between the age of 6 and 10 years old. Adam Lanza has always had a big fascination with mass shootings and violent video games when he was younger. His relationship with his mom was extremely shaky, as they had only been communicating by email, for three months.
If Adam Lanza had been used his TOK ways of knowing he would have realised with his emotions, reason and memory that by mass shooting innocent people never ends in a positive light. By also using areas of knowledge such as history Adam Lanza would understand the need of respecting young children’s life and murdering is not worth the pain of all of the families.
However Adam was diagnosed as being mentally disabled which could mean that he did not know what he was doing when he was doing it.

In conclusion, Theory of knowledge is important to the 21st century international student because it teaches students how to make wise decisions and use the Areas of Knowledge and Ways of knowing.

The TOK prescribed essay titles have recently been published by the IB for those taking exams in May 2016:
  1. “In gaining knowledge, each area of knowledge uses a network of ways of knowing.” Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of Knowledge.
  2. “Knowledge within a discipline develops according to the principles of natural selection.” How useful is this metaphor?
  3. “The knower’s perspective is essential in the pursuit of knowledge.” To what extent do you agree?
  4. “Without application in the world, the value of knowledge is greatly diminished.” Consider this claim with respect to two areas of knowledge.
  5. To what extent do the concepts that we use shape the conclusions that we reach?
  6. “In knowledge there is always a trade-off between accuracy and simplicity.” Evaluate this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge.