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Thursday, November 6th 2014

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Philosothon 2014

Philosothon 2014

On the evening of the 29th of October, five apprehensive, yet exhilarated students from Newman College advanced across Hale School grounds, heading towards the Philosothon of 2014. We walked alongside a throng of students from 30 other secondary schools across Perth.
After sharing in horsd’oeuvres in Hale’s Hall we were directed to take a seat and were given a brief overview of the history of the Philosothon by the Head Organiser, Mr. Matthew Wills. The competition began in 2007 with an ambition to foster higher order thinking among secondary school students. Mr. Wills explained that intellectual, respectful and progressive discussions labeled Community of Inquiries would be held between groups of students.
With the conclusion of the overview, we moved off into year level groups to begin our Community of Inquiries. Within a Community of Inquiry there is a facilitator, who helps to direct the discussion if needed and a judge, who evaluates and scores each students ability to think quickly yet critically when summarising other student’s ideas, expanding upon them and introducing more relevant theories. Each Community of Inquiry was aimed at collectively answering one of four philosophical questions. The first two questions were discussed within our independent year levels and the last two, between a range of students from all year levels. The applicable questions are mentioned below.
• “Is the pursuit of happiness self-defeating?”
• “Is there a limit to scepticism?”
• “Does belief in free will make you a better person?”
• “Are we morally obliged to provide debt relief?”
Prior to the evening of the competition we were supplied with stimulus covering each of the topics which I found a lot of the students incorporated into the discussion and was therefore, extremely helpful. Another tool that was helpful in inspiring relevant theoretical answers to the questions were prompting pertinent questions that every student had been required to send in, prior to the evening. These two tools, our brains and each other were our only means of creating intellectual discussion and many of us remarked that we found it strangely refreshing to find that we were able to learn so much without the aid of Google.
The dependence upon our own ideas was just one of the reasons why I enjoyed that night so thoroughly. The fast pace of the discussion was able to either cover copious amounts of subjects or gave us the time to deconstruct ideas in detail which is not as easily able to occur in the conventional environment of a classroom. The healthy competition and respect between competitors allowed for stimulating, progressive discussion and I for one, felt incredibly privileged to be a part of the Philosothon of 2014.
At the conclusion of the event, all competitors and spectators once again convened in the hall and we were treated to an extremely relatable, yet philosophical skit about happiness, which was impeccably performed by the Redfoot Youth Theatre. Afterwards, prizes were awarded to three students from each year level for demonstrating incredible critical thinking and promising futures in the field of philosophy. On behalf of my fellow participants, I would like to congratulate Jacinta Pavisich, for placing second out of the entire cohort of Year 8 competitors. With the level of intellect shown, this is truly a remarkable achievement. Overall, the winner of the event was Scotch College with St. Hilda’s School placing second and Hale School placing third. I would also like to thank and congratulate Elizabeth Loreck, our Year 11 representative and Genevieve Kan from Year 9. I would also like to thank Kascia Pavisich who acted as our reserve philosopher on the night. Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. Richards and Mrs. Wills for convening regular meetings to help with our preparation for the event and most importantly, for giving us all the opportunity to represent our respective year levels in Newman College’s first Philosothon, it was truly special.
Jennifer Bagg – Year 10

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