Branksome Hall News

TOK Exhibition Establishes Standard for Global Mindedness

What do women’s pants and the Caribbean Unity flag have in common? They were both chosen as “personally meaningful” objects, thoughtfully selected by Grade 11 and 12 students as part of the second annual Theory of Knowledge (TOK) exhibition, held at Branksome Hall on Tuesday, January 14.
The TOK Exhibition is a significant part of the International Baccalaureate’s curriculum update, set for worldwide adoption this fall. A documentary film crew trailed the students this year, as IB administrators recognized Branksome Hall’s work piloting this component of the new curriculum. Branksome will be showcased in an IB resource video, to be released globally along with the upcoming curriculum update.

“Students are able to delve into meaningful contemplation about the implications of being knowers and learners in the 21st century,” says faculty member Jordan Small.

The ambitious TOK course is an opportunity for all DP students to engage with deep epistemological inquiry. Students critically reflect on the role “systems of knowledge” play in their personal, communal and academic lives: Who owns knowledge? Does knowledge impose ethical obligations? What role does knowledge play in our values and beliefs?

“IB administrators were extremely impressed with the high standard of intellectual inquiry and the authentic voices that resonated throughout the AWC gymnasium,” says Small. “Our students should be incredibly proud. We look forward to the many exhibitions to come as we continue to evolve and exemplify what it means to be a globally minded institution.”

Here are two examples of questions and selections:

Izzy: What is the relationship between knowledge and culture?”
Caribbean Unity flag: The Caribbean contains many islands. Each has its own unique history, culture and values. When looking through a broad lens, all of these islands tend to be classified into one group as represented by the Caribbean Unity flag. However, when this lens is zoomed onto each island individually, one is able to observe and appreciate the unique differences that each island embodies. This flag is able to effectively represent the idea that within one large knowledge community, there are many smaller knowledge communities.

Priya: How can we know that current knowledge is an improvement on past knowledge?"
Women’s pants: This item represent gender equality and the right for women to wear what they want. The TOK exhibition allowed me to think outside of the box and think about the deeper meaning of these ordinary objects. It was fun to share my thoughts about these objects with other people, because I could tell them about a certain aspect of these objects that probably never crossed their minds before. For example, not many people would think of dress pants as a symbol of gender equality—even I didn't realize this before I started my project.

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10 Elm Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada
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