Designing your TOK program

Your TOK program needs to explore 10 Ways of Knowing and 8 Areas of knowledge. TOK workshop leader Roz Trudgon shares her strategies for integrating all these components.

ib tok syllabus

My tip for the new TOK is to AOK-alise your WOKs and all will be well.

Which to introduce first – AOKs or WOKs?

You can choose the AOKs and WOKs you want to explore. However, TOK teachers can sometimes spend weeks guiding students through each of the WOKs with limited progress. To alleviate this, I recommend exploring your chosen WOKs within the context of six of the eight AOKs: mathematics, the natural sciences, the human sciences, the arts, history, ethics, religious knowledge systems and indigenous knowledge systems.

WOKs can be easier to understand (and to teach!) if they are delivered within the context of AOKs – for example, try presenting imagination within the context of the human sciences. Where would science be without imagination?

Choosing your AOKs

In order to ensure that your TOK programme appeals to all of your students choose your AOKs and WOKs carefully. Remember that some of your students may experience life through their heads, and could be considered thinkers whose responses are a product of their thought processes. Other students might experience life through their hearts; these learners could be feelers whose responses are a product of their emotional processes. Very broadly speaking AOKs could be grouped as follows:


  • Mathematics 
  • Natural sciences
  • Human Science
  • History


  • Ethics
  • Religious knowledge systems
  • Indigenous knowledge systems
  • The arts

It is important to ensure that you equally balance your choice of AOKs between Head and Heart.

Provide a clear learning scaffold

I know some students can struggle with the transition into TOK - deciphering and exploring complicated ideas and concepts can be a challenge for learners who may not have confident experience employing independent and critical thought.

Some students may benefit from a TOK framework that helps break down the more challenging concepts into manageable ideas and processes. Try using this Think TOK model from Theory of Knowledge: Skills and Practice, to help learners decode TOK concepts and build strong TOK foundations.

Roz Trudgon is an IB workshop leader and curriculum consultant. She is also co-author of IB Theory of Knowledge: Skills and Practice.

More support from Roz

Theory of Knowledge

Theory of Knowledge: Skills and Practice

Support the transition into TOK. Break down the complicated ideas into manageable concepts and embed a clear learning scaffold to progress your learners into handling complex critical thought.

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