York School News

How We Come To Knowledge

Grade 11 Class
'what do we know?' and 'how do we know it?' - Grade 11s explore
We see or read something and it makes us reflect. What do we think? How are we learning? Do we observe the embellishments made by an author or politician? Do we dismiss facts that do not fit our narrative? Do we take what we see at face value? 

The IB Theory of Knowledge course offers students the opportunity to critically examine knowledge in the world. As knowers, students examine knowledge claims and the ways in which these are constructed, justified, shared and evaluated, drawing on examples across their learning in the IB programme and their own experiences. 

The study of epistemology requires exploring different perspectives. For example we may ask: why do people use the word ‘expat’ to describe rich/western people working in another country but often use the word ‘migrant’ to describe poor/non-western workers in foreign countries? 

To be discerning, one must ask questions. We look at a knowledge claim from a real life situation, and ask questions. Is the claim legitimate? Was it invented? Which tools or methods were used to construct this claim? How do we dissect a situation to come to our knowledge? What are the ethical parameters attached to such a claim?

Recently the Grade 11 class hosted their Theory of Knowledge Exhibition exploring questions about knowledge through three objects they had on display. The perspectives they explored and presented to the community ranged from Art, Math, Literature, Music, Geography and Climate Change.  

For example, Maryn explored whether or not knowledge belongs to a particular community of knowers using a personal set of keys—house, mailbox, car—to justify to how gender identity in a given culture may relate to how keys are used as weapons for self-defense in an effort to highlight the trouble of confirmation bias as a society works toward being equitable.

Ashley also explored the question about knowledge being particular to certain knowers by reflecting on how a person’s experiential understanding is different than what could be written, as having a first-hand relationship with a survivor of the Holocaust intimately elevates a specific knower’s understanding of war, its survivors, and the awareness of the plight of others.

Questions such as: “What role does imagination play in producing knowledge about the world?” should invite the life-long learner pause and think, to consider and relate this question to a real-world context, so they can better understand their knowledge as a knower and appreciate the impact they can have on a community.
Thank you Grade 11s for the incredible, thought provoking range of questions!

About the York School

Canada's first co-educational independent IB World School
The York School is a gender inclusive JK to Grade 12 independent school located in the heart of Toronto. The York School was founded in 1965 and is the first school in Canada accredited to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) from junior kindergarten (JK) to university entrance. As an IB World School, The York School's motto is Experientia Docet or Experience Teaches.

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