Suggested plans for working with IKS in TOK


Ideally, about 6 weeks should be used for working with this topic, however that might be ambitious due to the other topics that have to be covered in TOK. I suggest some possible plans underneath. The first is the plan I used myself with my TOK class last year. Each week we had a double period (90 minutes) in TOK:


(used last year, went okay but could be improved…):

Week one – Introduction to topic, key concepts

Week two – Sami knowledge systems – we had a Sami guest speaker come in (we live in Norway). If you have an indigenous population in your country and living within reach of your school, it is important to ask them to come in and talk with your pupils.

Week three – Learning about Aboriginal Australia – pupils each got a theme they had to present, and relate to each other. We used the reflection questions found after the activity mentioned here. The activity these questions are part of is designed for English in the Norwegian system, but could work for a TOK class too, if your pupils don´t know much about Aboriginal Australians.

Week four – Discussion of modern issues faced by Aboriginal Australians. Discussion of Australia Day/Invasion Day  (differences in perception). Relating Aboriginal issues to Sami issues and discussing Norwegian policies.

Week five – Watched “Rabbit Proof Fence”

Week six – Practiced making knowledge questions and arguments/ counterarguments.

Reflection after experiences with above plan: I would switch around the Sami and the Australian topics, as I think the pupils would have got more out of bringing what they learnt about Aboriginal ways of knowing into working with the Sami. However, this is possibly specific for pupils in Norway.

Modern day issues do not relate directly to curriculum in TOK, but I think they are important to discuss when working with the topic of indigenous knowledge systems and indigenous peoples, so for me it was important to use a session on this – after all, we are also educating future citizens of the world. 

“Rabbit Proof Fence” is an excellent film and I recommend it strongly, but I might not have used a class on it in TOK, had it not been the day before the Christmas holiday.


(yet to be be tested, but I think this should work well…):

Week one: Introduction to topic and Identity Mapping. Identity mapping is an important tool to discuss holistic knowledge and how indigenous people relate to the world around them. It should also encourage pupils´to reflect over their own knowledge systems and cultural background.

Week two: North Dakota Pipeline activities. Focusing on indigenous world view and western world view.

Week three: Ngunnawal and holistic knowledge. Focusing on the holistic aspects of IKS.

Week four: Australia Day/ Invasion Day and relate Aboriginal issues to treatment of Sami in Norway. Focusing on modern issues and challenges.

Week five: Focus on Sami (preferably with visit if possible) + general discussion of IKS as an Area of Knowledge.

Week six: Practiced making knowledge questions and arguments/ counterarguments.


(for four weeks):

Week one: Introduction to topic and Identity Mapping

Week two: North Dakota Pipeline activity

Week three: Ngunnawal and holistic knowledge

Week four: Focus on Sami (preferably with visit) + general discussion of IKS as an Area of Knowledge

Homework: Practiced making knowledge questions and arguments/ counterarguments.


In the attached file is the plan a colleague of mine used for teaching IKS this year:


Some of her reflections after completing the topic:

“For the most part we did the activities as you have planned them. We did use yarn for Ngunnawal as I told you, and that worked very well. On that day we also tried to make similar types of connections in Norwegian society, and some of the students found it quite challenging to distinguish between holistic knowledge and interdependency…perhaps a good opportunity to explore links to shared and personal knowledge?

In their practice essays, the students had to use examples from IKS we have covered in class. SInce they know so little about IKS, this meant that they only had a very few examples to choose from, and their exploration of these examples was really quite superficial. I can definitely see that if they are to use IKS in their real essays, we would either have to spend much more time on it in class or they would have to do a fair amount of independent research.”