Knowledge on display

IB holds Theory of Knowledge student exhibition


Nicole Macgaffey

BVH International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Candidates shared their selected Theory of Knowledge (ToK) project prompts and chosen artifacts that answer the prompt with their peers. Students gathered in the cafeteria to showcase their work and learn about others’ projects.

Nicole Macgaffey, Features Editor

The cafeteria was brimming with the sounds of loud and lively student discussion, akin to the atmosphere of a busy coffee shop. Eager presenters sat at tables with a variety of objects in front of them, “artifacts” they’ve chosen from everyday life that address Theory of Knowledge (ToK) concepts outside of the classroom. Ready listeners walked around the cafeteria enthusiastic to hear their stories. 

On Oct. 10, the ToK Exhibition took place during sixth period for Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) class of 2022, International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Candidates. According to an email sent out by IB Diploma Program Coordinator Jared Phelps, the Tok Exhibition is part of the students’ official ToK grade, which contributes to their IB diploma. The purpose of the exhibition is to share their work and have conversations about each of their projects with their peers. 

“The exhibition is set up to be open-ended and allow students to engage in many different ways,” Phelps said. “The exhibition is forced to be useful and it’s forced to be a way that these big, deep questions can have real meaning and real impact on who we are, what we do and what we think.” 

The exhibition was the first one to take place this year. The event was organized by IB English Higher Level 1 and ToK teachers Jason Good and Kalie Espinoza. During the exhibition, the students were split into two groups, taking turns showcasing their ToK Internal Assessments (IA) to their peers. Additionally, they engaged in conversations about the work of the student presenting. 

According to Good, students were asked to select from one of 35 ToK prompts that revolve around knowledge and answer it through their three chosen artifacts. He mentioned that the exhibition’s goal was to evaluate how ToK concepts work in the real world. 

“[The exhibition] is an opportunity to discuss [the student’s] formal assessment content in an authentic way,” Good said. “In a way that allows them to make connections between what they’re doing, the schoolwork they’re working with and their interests.” 

Senior Renee Felix’s prompt was, “How does knowledge relate to culture?” Her three artifacts consisted of a tablecloth, an album and boxing gloves. Felix chose this prompt because she was curious about her culture and wanted to investigate how the knowledge she sought out connected to her own culture. 

“My artifacts are personally connected to my specific culture,” Felix said. “They have guided me and given me more information that’s allowed me to connect and be proud of who I am.” 

Senior Samantha Bianes chose the prompt, “How does imagination play a role in producing knowledge about the world?” Bianes’ artifacts included a book on Greek mythology, a print out of the painting “Ophelia” and Bianes’ personal journal themed around analysis. She remarked that she was interested in the concept of imagination and felt there were a lot of routes she could take with that notion. However, Bianes faced challenges that came from choosing artifacts for her question. 

“It was very difficult to choose objects that related to your question. You don’t want to make [the artifacts] something that was too easy to do because then there wouldn’t be any actual knowledge gained from it,” Bianes said. 

According to Bianes, she found enjoyment from working on the IA and did not realize she had as much passion as she did for the topic of Greek mythology. Through this assignment, students were able to explore a topic they were interested in and challenge themselves in making connections.  

“It was fun and interesting to research the different [artifacts], especially because most of mine are things I’m naturally interested in. I enjoy mythology [and these artifacts] are basically mythology because it’s an Ophelia painting and this is my own personal journal report,” Bianes said. 

To Phelps, the challenge was finding a facility to hold the event. To add on, Good brought up that timing and the element of COVID-19 regulations made planning the exhibition difficult. The event was supposed to be open to the BVH community for them to attend but did not end up working out. 

“Timing has been a nightmare since it was a big event. Since all the students are really busy, we had to change the plans a number of times just to make sure that everyone’s schedules fit what we were doing and COVID-19 restrictions,” Good said.

Phelps believes the exhibition would assist students in finding meaning in their work—something regular school work cannot achieve. He thought that through the freedom of choosing their own artifacts and exploring their individual question of their interest, students were able to create something that mattered to them. 

“I [left] with new knowledge of my own and appreciation for what students value and consider important. I also appreciated getting to see how excited and animated students were [since] work is drudgery. I’m not going to lie, this is a great program, and yes, it’s meaningful, but it’s still work that can be boring, silly and frustrating. It’s good to see students excited about doing this. I thought it was really cool,” Phelps said. 

For Good, he got ideas on how to improve next year’s exhibition, such as involving the IB junior class more in the event. He thought that while difficult, the exhibition was “fun and entertaining.” 

“Sometimes as a teacher, I have to work really hard to keep everyone focused and on task. I didn’t have to remind a single person during the exhibition to stay focused. Everyone seemed legitimately interested in what everyone else was saying. I think everyone in the ToK class understands the content well enough to recognize that everyone else did a really good job with that,” Good said. “[The exhibition] just reminded me how strong the seniors [this year] are.

This piece was updated on Oct. 24, 2021.