Philosothon

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A Philosothon is an annual competition wherein students explore philosophical and ethical issues. Philosothons are held in all Australian states, New Zealand, and the UK.[1][2][3]

At a Philosothon, school-aged students are assessed by university-based professional philosophers and score highly where they demonstrate rigour and clarity of thought. An essential component of a Philosothon is the pedagogical model for teaching Philosophy to young people called Community of inquiry. The event has grown alongside and within the Philosophy for Children movement. Annual Philosothons are held throughout Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The first Australasian Philosothon was held at Cranbrook School, Sydney in 2011[4][5] and the first UK Philosothon was held in 2012 at King's College, Taunton.

2007 Hale School Philosothon Winning school students with trophy

History[edit]

In 2007, Hale School in Perth, Western Australia initiated a project to promote higher-order thinking among secondary school students. The Head of Philosophy and Ethics Mr Matthew Wills, created the event to promote student engagement in the study of Philosophy. At the first Philosothon nine local high school teams, each including five students came together for an evening of philosophical investigation. The word 'Philosothon' was invented in the first few years of the event by Matthew Wills and Leanne Rucks.[6][7]

Recent history[edit]

Following the first Philosothon it was decided to promote the event more broadly to other schools around the country and later in the UK. Philosothons now take place annually in each Australian capital city and in regional locations around Australia and New Zealand. Primary school Philosothons have been conducted in various Art Galleries in some Australian states and in the UK.[8][9] Philosothons have been established in regional cities throughout Australia and New Zealand and a similar growth is spearheaded by Academy Conferences in the UK where various regional hubs are emerging, such as Stowe.[10][11][12]

In 2017 The Templeton Religion Trust awarded $281,656 AUD to the Philosothon project in order to "grow existing Philosothons and support the establishment of new ones, particularly in remote schools and at schools catering for students from low socio-economic backgrounds" in Australasia.[13] Similar funding was awarded to the Ian Ramsey Centre at Oxford University to expand the UK Philosothon initiative in 2019.[14] They also take place around the UK and introductory presentations to explain the concept and invite participation are given to teachers at Academy Conferences multiple times each year.[15][16][17]More recently the University of Western Australia was awarded a grant from the Templeton Religion Trust to continue the Philosothon Project focussing on developing Philosothons in remote and regional parts of Australia and New Zealand.[18] Matthew Wills has been appointed the Project Manager.[19] As part of the recent expansion of Philosothons in the UK, introductory presentations to teachers have explained the concept at more than 15 Academy Conferences events, as well as ISRSA and NATRE conferences.[20] These presentations have been accompanied by associated outreach work, including the development of a website and more than 500 flash drives so far for distributing introductory and administrative material, generously funded by the Templeton Religion Trust.[21]

A Junior School Philosothon at the Art Gallery of Western Australia

In 2020 the Australasian Association of Philosophy ran the first online Philosothon.[22]With the arrival of the Corona Virus and travel restrictions, the 2020 Australasian Philosothon was held online with twenty-one Australian and New Zealand schools participating.[23][24]

Rationale and process[edit]

The rationale for the Philosothon methodology is based on empirical evidence that teaching children reasoning skills early in life greatly improves other cognitive and academic skills and greatly assists learning in general.[25] Students are given the topic questions in advance and some stimulus reading materials.[26]

Examples of topic questions from recent Philosothons are these:

Due to COVID restrictions, online Philsothons have been developed recently.[27] In any case students, teachers and parents gather, either online or face to face on a particular evening each year for the event. The students participate in a series of four Philosophical Community of inquiry which are facilitated by teachers or Phd. philosophy students from the local universities. While participating in this process students are scored by Philosophy lecturers also from local universities. The scores are then collated, ranked and later awards are given to students at each age level and encouragement awards to the most promising male and female philosopher. Also, a trophy is awarded to the winning school.[28]

Winners of the 2011 Australasian Philosothon Christ Church Grammar School

Australasian Philosothon[edit]

In July 2011 the Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Associations (FAPSA) agreed to support the first National Philosothon at Cranbrook School. Each Australian state sent three teams (those schools that won in their regional Philosothon) and so twelve schools in total arrived in Sydney to participate in the inaugural event.[29][30][31] [32] Each year the Australasian Philosothon is run in a different region in Australasia.[33] In 2019 the ninth Australasian Philosothon was held at Radford College in Canberra. In 2020 the Australasian Philosothon was hosted for the first time online by the Australasian Association of Philosophy.[34]

United Kingdom[edit]

Philosothons have been run in the UK since 2013. Revd. Mark Smith & Julie Arliss from the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics Department at King's College, Taunton, UK, have spearheaded the Philosothon movement in the United Kingdom in collaboration with Dr Michael Lacewing from Heythrop College and Lizzy Lewis from Sapere.[35] Wells Cathedral College won the first event. More recently Philosothons have been developed throughout the UK, promoted at Academy Conferences events and spreading from the UK hub at King's College, Taunton; with more than 375 attendees in the year 2019-2020 (more events were postponed due to COVID-19).[36][37] Primary School Philosothons have also been hosted by the Philosophy Foundation.[38] Other Philosothons have been held around the UK.[39]

Primary and Middle School Philosothons[edit]

In 2012 an inaugural Primary School Philosothon was held at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).[40][41] [42] In 2013 the first WA Primary school Philosothon was hosted by John XXIII College at the Art Gallery of WA. Since then Annual Primary School Philosothons have been conducted in Victoria, WA and the UK.[43]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wills, Matthew. "The 2009 Sir Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation Ethics in Leadership Fellowship" (PDF). Fellowship Report. Winston Churchill Trust. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  2. ^ "UK Philosothon website". Archived from the original on 18 November 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  3. ^ Pritchett, Mark. "The Wellington News". Wellington Weekly. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  4. ^ Saunders, Alan. "The Philosophers Zone". ABC. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  5. ^ Rocca, Michelle. "The Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools". VAPS. Archived from the original on 16 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Philosothon Website". History. Philosothon. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Philosothon Website". History. Philosothon. Archived from the original on 23 September 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  8. ^ Worley, Peter. "Philosophy Foundation". Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  9. ^ Etherton, Rosemary. "The National Gallery of Victoria". Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Macquarie Port News". Archived from the original on 3 January 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  11. ^ Philosophical Inquiry with Children:The Development of an Inquiring Society ...edited by Gilbert Burgh, Simone Thornton. University of Queensland. 7 December 2018. ISBN 9780429777134. Archived from the original on 3 January 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Philosothon UK - Academy Conferences invite you to participate". Philosothon UK. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  13. ^ W., Justin. "Daily Nous". Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Philosothon Expansion in the UK". www.ianramseycentre.info. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  15. ^ "UK Philosothon". Taunton School UK. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  16. ^ "University of Queensland Philosothon". History. University of Queensland. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Philosothon UK - Academy Conferences invite you to participate". Philosothon UK. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  18. ^ "UWA Research List Repository". www.research-repository.uwa.edu.au. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  19. ^ "TRT Grants List". www.templetonreligiontrust.org. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  20. ^ "Conference 2019". isrsa. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  21. ^ "Philosothon Expansion in the UK". www.ianramseycentre.info. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  22. ^ "Daily Nous Website". History. Philosothon. Archived from the original on 4 February 2021. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  23. ^ "AAP Philosothon". www.aap.org.au.
  24. ^ "AAP Philosothon". philosothon.org/.
  25. ^ Prof Stephan Millett, Dr Alan Tapper & (2011). "Educational Philosophy and Theory 'Benefits of Collaborative Philosophical Inquiry in Schools'" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  26. ^ "Philosothon Website". Resources. Philosothon. Archived from the original on 23 September 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  27. ^ "Daily Nous Website". History. Philosothon. Archived from the original on 4 February 2021. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  28. ^ Flood, Gary & (2014). "A Marathon for the Mind". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  29. ^ "Australian Association of Philosophy". Archived from the original on 9 March 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  30. ^ Dr Poulton, Janette. "-Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools". Victorian Philosothon. VAPS. Archived from the original on 16 November 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  31. ^ "FAPSA". Federal Association for Philosophy in Schools. FAPSA. Archived from the original on 15 January 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  32. ^ "Philosophy Now UK Journal". National Philosothon. Philosophy Now. Archived from the original on 23 November 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  33. ^ "FAPSA". ABC Drive Radio. ABC. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  34. ^ "Daily Nous Website". History. Philosothon. Archived from the original on 4 February 2021. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 August 2017. Retrieved 10 September 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. ^ Smith, Mark. "Philosophy Now". Wellington Weekly. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  37. ^ "Philosothon UK - Academy Conferences invite you to participate". Philosothon UK. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  38. ^ "Independent Education Today". Archived from the original on 10 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  39. ^ Davies, Sian. "The Southern Daily Echo". Wellington Weekly. Archived from the original on 11 September 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  40. ^ Worley, Peter. "Philosophy Foundation". Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  41. ^ Etherton, Rosemary. "The National Gallery of Victoria". Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  42. ^ Dr D'Olympio, Laura. "The Conversation". Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  43. ^ "Philosophy Foundation Website". Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2015.

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