1. 2019 Australasian Philosothon at Radford College
The 2019 Australasian Philosothon was an enormous achievement for all involved and marked major changes in the future of the project.
Over 190 students, teachers and university-based academics attended the 9th annual Australasian Philosothon at Radford College. We heard from some amazing speakers but one of the highlights of the Philosothon was a presentation by Chris Lawless on the final day. He spoke on the topic of “Why Philosophy”. The fact that he received a minute-long standing ovation from everyone including many adolescents is an indication of the profound effect of his presentation.
Nevertheless, the highlight of the Philosothon was again the Philosophical Communities of Inquiry (COI's). (pictured here) Eight times eight, 64 in total over a period of 24 hours. At the end of a local or regional Philosothon the comments from teachers and university academics are often heard…”It is hard to believe that young people are capable of such profound wise thoughts”, “The students are so clear and articulate in these Communities of Inquiry” and ”The world is in good hands if these young people are its future!” Multiply this by 5 at the Australasian Philosothon. During the COIs the participating students inspired each other, challenged each other and listened carefully to each other while dealing with incredibly vexing issues and questions such as: "There is no such thing as digital death. Can the internet help us live forever" and "Is free will just an illusion?" Here is a link to the resource website for the event; https://philosothon.org/2019AustralasianPhilo…/2019Home.html
The results were;
-First Place- North Sydney Girls High School NSW
-Second Place- St Andrews Cathedral Grammar School NSW
-Third place-Narrabunda College and Telopea Park High School ACT
-Fourth Place- St Peters Girls School SA
This year there were major changes to the Australasian Philosothon largely born from the fact that we are searching for the best way to include many more schools given the popularity of the event in recent years. At the 2019 Australasian Philosothon we provided everyone with more down-time between COIs. On the first day we provided the younger students with an opportunity to observe the older, more experienced students and we spread the assessed COIs across 24 hours instead of 6 hours as was the case previously. Between each assessed COI students had a break. While some COIs were open to other students to observe, two of the four COIs were closed to observers apart from organising teachers.
Another major change has been the introduction of Philosothon software. This software will have many beneficial consequences to help with the efficient running of Philosothons. It offers a quick easy way to gather information in the lead up to the event, , it offers a communication hub, it helps process information during the event and, it provides a comprehensive report to each participating school after the event.
Other speakers included Michael Walsh who challenged us to consider a new approach to Critical Thinking, Dr Jen Glaser shared a vision inspired by the philosophy of Hannah Arendt which takes seriously the relationship between politics and accountability. And the Head judge Professor Stephan Millet spoke eloquently about the power of a Philosophical Community of Inquiry backing it up with hard data, proving it is a vitally important and effective pedagogy for the 21st century.
Overall, I am incredibly proud of where the event has come over a relatively short time. Not just the number of schools now involved but the variety of schools involved, State schools, Catholic schools and private schools in a growing number of states. Here is a link to the schools involved; Canberra Girls Grammar ACT, Cavenish Rd State High School QLD, Churchie QLD, Georgiana Molloy Anglican School WA, Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School NSW, Mac Robertson High School VIC, Merici College ACT, Meriden NSW, MLC WA, Narrabundah ACT, Nth Sydney Girls High School NSW, PAC SA, Radford College ACT, Scotch College WA, Seymour College SA, St Andrews Cathedral School NSW, St Marks ACS WA, St Patrick's College NSW, St Peters Girls School SA, Telopea Park School ACT
We thank FAPSA for its support over the last eight years. It appears most likely that the event will be finding a new and exciting institutional home next year. This coincides with a new Philosothon project which will continue to grow and develop Philosothons into the future.
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