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Welchome to toktalk.net, a blog and podcast that should be a resource for students and teachers of the IB TOK (Theory of Knowledge) course.

About Myself

Q: Who are you and why did you make this site?
A: My name is Oliver Kim and I am a teacher of the International Baccalaureate Program. I teach Theory of Knowledge as well as IB Biology and Information Technology in a Global society (ITGS). I am, however, not affiliated with the IB Organisation, and this site is not endorsed by them. There is much TOK teaching material available but not much audio material, at least not to my knowledge. Sometimes the available reading material is quite complex and not very accessible. I was simply missing accessible information that can be “easily consumed”. Many students already possess portable MP3 players and I am optimistic that this technology will play a stronger role in education in the future. There are other reasons as well. Making this blog/podcast requires me to do some research. Essentially it is a form of course preparation for me.

About Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

Q: What is Theory of Knowledge (TOK)?
A: Theory of Knowledge is the name of a course that students of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program have to take, but it is more than that. It is a course in critical thinking. It is also a branch of Philosophy called Epistemology. This branch of philosophy addresses questions such as:

  • How do we know what we know?
  • How do we obtain new knowledge?
  • What counts as knowledge and what does not?

An awareness of TOK principles should give us the possibility to critically reflect and critically examine our own sources of knowledge. TOK is a course in critical thinking and it very practical. For me personally it has become somewhat a way of life – it is a way of looking at the world, it is a way of seeing things. When I read a newspaper article, a science report, listen to an interview I can not help asking myself questions such as:

  • Is the account biased in any way?
  • Does my own cultural background give rise to misunderstandings?
  • How are the claims in the article or interview justified?
  • What language issues play a role in the communication?
  • …and many more.

This website, however, is not endorsed by the IB-Organisation and by the school that I teach in. Different teachers teach TOK differently and this is perfectly OK. The course places an emphasis on critical, reflective thinking and not so much on the acquisition of facts. Philosophical concepts certainly do play a certain role, but TOK is not a philosophy course in which students study different philosophical viewpoints. In my personal view, the course should motivate students to ask questions that they normally would not ask. They should learn to see the world through different eyes – with a “twist” so to say.

Q: What are AOKs, WOKs, KIs, POKs?
A: These are abbreviations which are used throughout the course and on this Website.

  • AOK: These are Different areas of Knowledge, such as Science, History, Math, Ethics, Arts, Human sciences…. The TOK course places an emphasis on the school subjects, but theoretically the AOKs can be any other domain as well. Computer science is also an area of knowledge just as the ability to swim or to ride a bicycle can also be considered an area of knowledge (I know how to swim!).
  • WOK: There are four basic Ways of Knowing. Logics (Reason), Sense Perception, Emotion/Intuition or Language (by Authority). We know something about the world through these four basic Ways of Knowing. I know how to swim because I watched somebody else swim (sense perception) and because my parents taught me the theory of swimming (Authority). I also read a book on it (Authority). The question now is: Is this enough for knowing how to swim? Interesting. We are now right in the middle of a Knowledge Issue.
  • KI or POKs: These are Knowledge Issues and Problems of Knowledge. I often use them interchangably because it is often not easy to separate these two. The KIs/POKs address the question: “How do I know?”. How is my knowledge influenced by my own experience, bias, culture, education?
  • About TOKTalk.net

    Q: What is TOKTalk?
    A: TOKTalk is a blog/podcast with the objective of inspiring Theory of Knowledge (TOK) students and teachers (and of course anybody who is interested) to view the world in a different way. It is a collection of thoughts and explanations on a range of different topics that relate directly and indirectly to TOK.

    Q: For whom did you make this site?
    A: I made this site primarily for my own TOK students as a source of inspiration….. And also for myself, it’s a form of course preparation for me.

    Q: Why did you choose to publish the material in the audio form and not conventionally as text material?
    A: Does there always have to be an objective, rational reason for things like that? For those of you who would like to hear the rational reason: Students are already acquainted with obtaining text material from the Internet and from books. Podcasts still have a certain “newness” factor, probably not for much long, and this may kindle the curiosity of the students, at least I hope so. OK, now I have given my little secret away….. And for those of you who want to hear the subjective reason: I was simply interested in this new technology and wanted to try it out. And it’s fun as well.

    Q: How often do you add new episodes?
    A: I add them irregularly, depending on time availability. Sometimes there is a break of a few months, but I have not abandoned the site. Be patient.

    Q: Why do some blog entries not have an audio file attached?
    A: I generally try to add the mp3 when I have the time and the quiet. The day unfortunately has only 24 hours…

    Q: Where did you get the material from?
    A: I wrote it myself and read it off. Sometimes I’m improvising. Plagiarism is a no-no. The pictures I took myself.

    Q: What do the pictures have to do with the topics that you talk about? For example, what does the picture of a bird have to do with this FAQ section? I can not see the connection
    A: I understand you. I often feel very similar when I am reading TOK or Exteded essays from students. Sometimes there is no connection between the body of the essay and the essay title (or the introduction and the paragraphs that follow it)….. 🙂

    Q: What technology are you using for this website?
    A: The blog software is WordPress. I’m also using a Podcasting plugin. For recording the audio, I’m using the audio editor Audacity. The quality of the audio files are improved with The Levelator.

    General Info

    Areas of Knowledge

    Ways of Knowing



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    Men can know more than their ancestors did if they start with a knowledge of what their ancestors had already learned....That is why a society can be progressive only if it conserves its traditions.

    - Walter Lippmann -