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. 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.[6]

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. 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 created in the first few years of the event by Matthew Wills and Leanne Rucks. [7] [8]

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 the country. They also take place in the UK[9] Recently Primary school Philosothons have been conducted in various Art Galleries in some Australian states and in the UK.[10][11]

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. [12]

A Junior School Philosothon at the Art Gallery of Western Australia

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.[13] Students are given the topic questions in advance and some stimulus reading materials.[14]

Examples of topic questions from recent Philosothons are these:

Students, teachers and parents gather on a particular evening each year for the event. The students participate in a series of Communities 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 in the evening 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.[15]

Criticisms and responses[edit]

Some might argue that Philosophy cannot be undertaken in the context of a competition. [16] They believe that by ranking individuals the process of developing a Community of Philosophical Inquiry is fundamentally compromised. However, others have responded that many students forget they are involved in a competition and engage in the exact sort of investigation and collaboration we would hope to see in Philosophy. Others have suggested that the same process is undertaken in any academic institution, tertiary or secondary where students are ranked against criteria. The only difference is that one of the more important criteria in a COI is collaboration.[17]

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) decided to host the first National Philosothon at Cranbrook School. Each Australian state sent three teams (those schools that won the 2010 Philosothon in each state) and so twelve schools in total arrived in Sydney to participate in the inaugural event.[18][19][20] [21] The 2012 it was held at Bond University and AB Paterson College on the Gold Coast. In 2013 it was held in Melbourne, Victoria and hosted by the National Art Gallery of Victoria and Ballarat Grammar's City campus. In 2014 Hale School in Perth Western Australia hosted the Australasian Philosothon. [22] and in 2015 North Sydney Girls High School hosted the 5th Annual FAPSA Australasian Philosothon. In 2016 Churchie in Brisbane hosted the 6th FAPSA Australasian Philosohon.

Other countries[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.[23] Wells Cathedral College won the first event. Since then Philosothons have been run annually around the UK including many Primary School Philosothons hosted by the Philosophy Foundation. The most recent UK Philosothon was won by King's College Taunton. Other Philosothons have been held around the UK.[24]

Primary and Middle School Philosothons[edit]

In 2012 an inaugural Primary School Philosothon was held at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). [25][26] [27] 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.[28]

Results[edit]

Australasian Philosothons First Second Third Host
2011 Christ Church Grammar School[29] (WA) McKinnon Secondary College (VIC) Perth College (WA) Cranbrook School (NSW)
2012 Hale School (WA) Guildford Grammar School (WA) Bishop Druitt College (NSW) AB Paterson College (QLD)
2013 Raffles Girls' School (Singapore) Wesley College (WA) Ballarat Grammar School (VIC) Ballarat Grammar School (VIC)
2014 North Sydney Girls High School (NSW) Hale School (WA) Ballarat Grammar School (VIC) Hale School (WA)
2015 North Sydney Girls High School (NSW) Scotch College (WA) Hale School (WA) North Sydney Girls HS (NSW)[30]
2016 Scotch College (WA) Hale School (WA) Anglican Church Grammar School (QLD) Anglican Church Grammar School (QLD)
WA Philosothons First Second Third Host
2007 Hale School St Mary's Anglican Girls' School Hale School
2008 Christ Church Grammar School Hale School Perth College Hale School
2009 Wesley College Carmel School Perth Modern School Hale School
2010 Hale School Perth College Christ Church Grammar School Hale School
2011 Hale School Guildford Grammar School Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School Hale School
2012 Carmel School Guildford Grammar School Wesley College Hale School
2013 Iona Presentation College Perth Modern School Methodist Ladies' College Hale School
2014 Scotch College St Hilda's AGS Hale School Hale School
2015 Christ Church Grammar School & Scotch College Hale School, MLC & PLC Perth College
2016 Christ Church Grammar School Willetton Senior High School Hale School Perth College
Southern WA Philosothons First Second Third Host
2014 Georgiana Molloy Anglican School[31] Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School Bunbury Catholic College Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School
2015 Margaret River Senior High School Margaret River Senior High School Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School
2016 Margaret River Senior High School Margaret River Senior High School Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School
Queensland Philosothons First Second Third Host
2010 Anglican Church Grammar School A.B.Paterson College St Laurence's College A.B.Paterson College
2011 Anglican Church Grammar School Bishop Druitt College Palm Beach Currumbin High School A.B.Paterson College
2013 Div A Anglican Church Grammar School Brisbane State High School & Kelvin Grove State H.S. St Laurence's College
2013 Div B Cavendish Rd State High School Brisbane State High School St Laurence's College
2014 Div A Anglican Church Grammar School Brisbane State High School St Laurence's College University of Queensland
2014 Div B Anglican Church Grammar School Cavendish Rd SHS St Laurence's College University of Queensland
2015 Div A Brisbane State High School Palm Beach Currumbin State High School Anglican Church Grammar School and Kelvin Grove State College University of Queensland
2015 Div B Brisbane State High School Kenmore State High School St Laurence's College University of Queensland
2016 Div A Palm Beach Currumbin Brisbane Boy's College Marist College Ashgrove University of Queensland
2016 Div B Churchie Kenmore SHS Marist College Ashgrove University of Queensland
NSW Philosothons First Second Third Host
2009 Ascham School Cranbrook School Ascham
2010 Sydney Grammar School Ascham Ascham
2011 Sydney Grammar School St Andrew's Cathedral School Ascham
2012 Loreto Kiribilli Sydney Grammar School St Andrew's Cathedral School & Ascham Ascham
2013 North Sydney Girls High School Sydney Grammar School St Andrew's Cathedral School & Sydney Boys High School Ascham
2014 North Sydney Girls High School St Andrew's Cathedral School Monte San't Angelo Mercy College Cranbrook School
2015 S.C.E.G.G.S Darlinghurst Sydney Boys High School Sydney Girls High School Cranbrook School
2016 North Sydney Girls High School Sydney Boys High School St Andrews Cathedral School St Andrews Cathedral School
2017 Sydney Girls High School SCEGGS Darlinghurst Meriden St Andrews Cathedral School


Northern NSW Philosothon First First Div A First Div B Host
2012 Bishop Druitt College Alstonville High School Bishop Druitt College
2013 Bishop Druitt College John Paul College Lindisfarne Anglican School Bishop Druitt College
2014 Bishop Druitt College Bellingen High School The Armidale School Bishop Druitt College
Victorian Philosothons First Second Third Host
2010 St Leonards College King David School McKinnon Secondary College Ballarat Grammar
2011 McKinnon Secondary College King David School Ballarat Grammar School Ballarat Grammar
2012 Ballarat Grammar School McKinnon Secondary College Distance Education Centre of Victoria Ballarat Grammar
2013 Ballarat Grammar School Methodist Ladies' College, Melbourne Mill Park Secondary College Ballarat Grammar
2014 Ballarat Grammar School McKinnon Secondary College Star of the Sea College Brighton Ballarat Grammar
2015 Ballarat Grammar School King David School McKinnon Secondary College Ballarat Grammar
2016 McKinnon Secondary College Presbyterian Ladies' College Scotch College, Melbourne Ballarat Grammar

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wills, Matthew. "The 2009 Sir Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation Ethics in Leadership Fellowship" (PDF). Fellowship Report. Winston Churchill Trust. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "UK Philosothon website". 
  3. ^ Pritchett, Mark. "The Wellington News". Wellington Weekly. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  4. ^ Saunders, Alan. "The Philosophers Zone". ABC. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  5. ^ Rocca, Michelle. "The Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools". VAPS. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "Independent Education Today". 
  7. ^ "Philosothon Website". History. Philosothon. Retrieved 15 May 2017. 
  8. ^ "Philosothon Website". History. Philosothon. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "University of Queenland Philosothon". History. University of Queensland. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  10. ^ Worley, Peter. "Philosophy Foundation". 
  11. ^ Etherton, Rosemary. "The National Gallery of Victoria". 
  12. ^ W., Justin. "Daily Nous". 
  13. ^ Prof Stephan Millett, Dr Alan Tapper & (2011). "Educational Philosophy and Theory 'Benefits of Collaborative Philosophical Inquiry in Schools'" (PDF). Retrieved 10 January 2011. 
  14. ^ "Philosothon Website". Resources. Philosothon. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  15. ^ Flood, Gary & (2014). "A Marathon for the Mind". Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  16. ^ TALIAFERRO, CHARLES (2010). "Ask a Philosopher". Ask a Philosopher?. Retrieved 5 May 2017. 
  17. ^ Wills, Matthew (2012). "Philosothon" (PDF). American Philosophical Association. 12 (1). Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  18. ^ "Australian Association of Philosophy". Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  19. ^ Dr Poulton, Janette. "-Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools". Victorian Philosothon. VAPS. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  20. ^ "FAPSA". Federal Association for Philosophy in Schools. FAPSA. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  21. ^ "Philosophy Now UK Journal". National Philosothon. Philosophy Now. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  22. ^ "FAPSA". ABC Drive Radio. ABC. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  23. ^ http://www.kings-taunton.co.uk/philosothon/
  24. ^ Davies, Sian. "The Southern Daily Echo". Wellington Weekly. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  25. ^ Worley, Peter. "Philosophy Foundation". 
  26. ^ Etherton, Rosemary. "The National Gallery of Victoria". 
  27. ^ Dr D'Olympio, Laura. "The Conversation". 
  28. ^ "Philosophy Foundation Website". 
  29. ^ "ChristChurch Grammar Website". Winner of National Philosothon cited. Christ Church Grammar. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  30. ^ "Scotch College Website". Australasian Philosothon cited. Scotch College. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  31. ^ "The West Australian". Australasian Philosothon cited. The West Australian Regional. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  32. ^ "Wellington School Website". 
  33. ^ "Independent Education Today". 

External links[edit]

United Kingdom Philosothons First Second Third Host
2014 Wells Cathedral School Bristol Grammar School Monkton Combe School King's College, Taunton
2015 Wells Cathedral School Wellington School[32] Exeter School King's College, Taunton[33]
2016 Wellington School King's College, Taunton