February 15th: The Deadline for TOK, or Should there be an Extension?


February 15, 2022 marks the deadline for the final IB submission of the Class of 2022’s Theory Of Knowledge Essay, our last summative deadline for the course until we graduate in late May. Because of this, a debate has emerged within TOK classrooms: what should be done after Feb 15th? As of now, there are two main options. The first is to continue having TOK lessons under what shall be called ‘TOK lite’ with no homework or summative assessments, but proceed with class discussions facilitated by the TOK Knowledge Framework Guide. The second option is to end TOK there and then, and have the TOK block become an Academic Prep block, giving students more time to wrap up their final IAs and prepare for the upcoming IB exams. 

TOK is already a somewhat controversial class given its status within the IB core: meaning technically it isn’t truly an IB course, but rather a requirement that needs to be fulfilled if you want an IB diploma in your hands in two years time. To me, the answer to the question posed in the previous paragraph is really quite simple––no, there should be no ‘TOK lite’, and yes, there should just be an Academic Prep block. I say this not because it is the easiest way out and gives me more “down time” (whatever that means as an IB student), but because the Academic Prep block will truly be valuable for students. February is still a busy time in senior year, and with most students aiming to complete their IAs successfully while still keeping up with other coursework, an additional Academic Prep block would be crucial to manage our time more smoothly. Further, we spent a full year on distance learning, and so are at a disadvantage when compared to schools in places less affected by the pandemic – again, an Academic Prep block would alleviate this disadvantage. One way to lessen that handicap is to give us more time to study and review topics that might not be as fresh in our minds. After a year and a half of intense work, two Academic Prep blocks gives students time to finish most work on-campus, lessening the stress felt in after school hours. Second semester of senior year is, of course, still a time to work hard and achieve the highest grades you can, but it is also four months that should be devoted to reminiscence and the enjoyment of Graded as a whole: its afterschool activities, sports, and traditional events. The more work that can be completed in-school hours the better, both for students, who get more time to enjoy, as for teachers who will have more well-rested, gleeful students.

Another important point to consider is that of senioritis: if many seniors already lack the motivation to put full effort into their IB HL/SL classes during their second semester of senior year, what motivation will there be to pay attention and perform in a class where there is no more ‘true work’ to be done? How effective will TOK lite even be? I believe it’ll be very counterproductive, while Academic Prep at least gives students who are still on top of things time to complete work. Finally, the other two aspects of the IB Core have hard deadlines that nobody questions: I doubt Mrs Boerner will come talk to us about the EE after our viva você reflection has been submitted in October, nor will Bulga come to discuss CAS after March 31. If both of these elements are allowed to finish before our exams and graduations, why can’t that be the case with TOK? 

February 15th, 2022 should be the deadline for TOK. Not that I haven’t learned or taken anything away from the class, but once the assignments are done, there is no purpose in keeping students there, especially when Academic Prep time could be given. Senioritis, comparison with the other IB core elements, and the benefits of Academic Prep combine to make it clear what should be done: assign seniors an additional Academic Prep block!