Thank you for checking out Association for Philosophy in Schools (APIS)!
We are the professional association for Philosophy and Ethics teachers in Western Australia, run by a passionate team of volunteers. At APIS we are committed to expanding and developing philosophy in schools. As an association we believe that Philosophy at any age is enriching for the individual, and the community as a whole. But we cannot do this alone, if you're interested in teaching philosophy, learning how philosophical pedagogies could help in your own area or anything else to do with philosophy in schools, jump over to the Contact page and get in touch.
History of APIS
APIS has had a long history within Western Australia, with the first Philosophy in Schools event being held in 1984!
Officially founded by Felicity Haynes in 1989, APIS has always aimed to expand the presence of Philosophy within and without the classroom.
The current APIS emblem was selected as the humble bumblebee. This was the favoured animal of the Roman philosopher Virgil and it epitomised APIS's belief that harmonious collaboration could produce a healthy product.
APIS joined the Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Association (FAPSA) in 2002 and was recognised as a not-for-profit association in three years later. In 2020 APIS separated from FAPSA.
After growing from Philosophy Cafes, the inaugural Philosothon was held at Hale School on the 7th of November 2007, with the first Philosophy and Ethics course for teachers being held at Comet Bay Senior High School the same year.
After considerable lobbying and tireless work the Philosophy and Ethics course was officially recognised by the Schools Curriculum Standards Authority (SCSA) in 2008 with the first textbooks being published by APIS leaders Stephan Millett and Alan Tapper. The first cohort of young philosophers and ethicists numbered more than 500 students!
After growing out from Western Australia, the first Australasian Philosothon was held at Cranbrook School in Sydney in 2011. To supplement the growing interest in Philosophy in Schools, 2014 saw the publishing of the first issue of the Journal of Philosophy in Schools.
2016 was a big year for the association with more than 20 high schools teaching Philosophy and Ethics in Western Australia and the first of the annual Student Revision days being used to provide more formalised development of skills and critical thinking. Through assistance from Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School, APIS was able to administer the first South-West Philosothon.
In recognition of the importance of Philosothon for students academic development, the Templeton Religion Trust awarded Matthew Wills a grant 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" across Australasia.
We are proud of the significant progress has made in such a short period of time, and much like Virgil, our community with "an innate love of creation spurs the Attic bees on, each in its own way".
Andrew is the current Chair of APIS, having been elected in 2020. Prior to this, Andrew was Secretary of APIS from 2016 – 2019. Andrew is also the current Chair of SCSA Curriculum Advisory Committee (CAC) for Philosophy and Ethics – a position he has held since 2019.
Andrew teaches Philosophy and Ethics at St Mark’s Anglican Community School where he has worked since 2013. Andrew gained his ‘Advanced Practice’ Philosophy in Schools qualification in 2020, building on his ‘Introduction to Philosophy in Schools’ qualification in 2015. Andrew currently teaches Philosophy and Ethics to Years 10, 11 and 12, following the WACE ATAR and General courses, as well as teaching Philosophy to Years 4 and 5 extension students.
He is originally from the UK where he completed a Masters Degree in Jewish-Christian Relations, specialising in Jewish responses to the Holocaust and a Bachelor of Divinity (BD) degree in Theology from University of Wales, Bangor. He has previously taught in Secondary Schools in the UK for 13 years, which included eight years as a Subject Leader of Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics.
Andrew previously sat on the UK Government’s Regional Standing Advisory Committee for Religious Education and has had articles published in The Journal of Philosophy in Schools (JPS) and has an article published in ‘Common Ground, the Journal of the Council of Christians and Jews’.
Alan Tapper taught philosophy for about 20 years, mainly at Edith Cowan University, and has worked as a public policy researcher at the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy, Curtin University, for about 10 years. He was Chair of the Reference Group that designed the WACE Philosophy and Ethics course. With Stephan Millett he has co-written three secondary-school philosophy textbooks, Philosophy and Ethics (Cengage). He is still searching for the meaning of his life. His philosophical writings are listed here.
After studying philosophy at the University of Western Australia Oliver became a secondary English teacher, finding his way back to philosophy through involvement in the Perth Philosothon. He currently works at Methodist Ladies’ College teaching Philosophy and Ethics as well as English. He has been a committee member since 2018 and took on the role of secretary in 2020
Shelley has four grown children and teaches at Methodist Ladies College. She is Head of Religious Studies as well as a Philosophy teacher. Shelley serves on the APIS Executive as Treasurer for which she feels ill-equipped.
Alison Freeman is the Associate Principal at Geographe Primary School in Busselton. Alison has been leading a whole school approach to Philosophy in Schools for six years at Geographe Primary and prior to that lead a whole school approach at Pemberton District High School. Alison is an accredited Level 2 Teacher Educator in Philosophy and has been running Level 1 workshops in Western Australia for 14 years now. In 2013 she won the Outstanding Professional Service Award for her contributions to the Association for Philosophy in Schools (WA). She is currently the Head facilitator for the South West Philosothon and each year has the honour of awarding the most promising philosopher of the evening the Alison Freeman trophy.
Nin Kirkham is an academic in Philosophy at UWA. Nin is passionate about the teaching of philosophy in schools and she has been involved in the Philosophy and Ethics ATAR subject, and the school Philosothon for many years. She currently teaches in the areas of Critical Thinking, Continental Philosophy, and Ethics. Nin also has extensive experience teaching Professional Ethics and Critical Thinking into disciplines outside Philosophy, including Engineering, Business and Science. Her research focuses on Environmental Virtue Ethics and in particular the concepts of nature and naturalness as they are employed in debates in Environmental Ethics, Bioethics and Technology.
Rob Wilson has been professor of philosophy at UWA since 2019. He explores fundamental questions in the cognitive, biological, and social sciences, and takes philosophy into non-university spaces, such as school classrooms and camps. Rob’s career achievements include his time as General Editor of the award-winning MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences (1999); his directorship of the five-year project Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada (2010-2015) as part of which he hosted 80 public events and oversaw development of the public resources at EugenicsArchive.ca; and his longstanding commitment to ‘Philosophy for Children’, directing the first Western Australia Conference in Philosophy for Children in 1986, founding Philosophy for Children Alberta in 2008, and co-founding Canada's Eurekamp in 2009. In 2009, Rob was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada for his contributions to philosophy. Rob has a BA with first-class honours in philosophy from UWA, and an MA and PhD from Cornell University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. Rob is currently convenor of the Philosophy in the Community Committee (PiCC) of the Australasian Association of Philosophy and is the founder of WA’s own Eurekamp Oz!.
Kaz discovered philosophy in her 30's as an undergraduate student trying to escape cooking for the rest of her life. She graduated with a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Adelaide in 2019. Over the years she has taught casually at several universities across Australia. She now holds her first real job as a lecturer, and philosophy for children (P4C) practitioner at the University of Western Australia.
Kaz sees philosophy as very practical, a method of thinking carefully and critically about big problems. She enjoys the fact that there may be no solutions, there are better and worse ways of thinking things through.
Her philosophy in community practice focuses on using the community of inquiry methodology as an educational tool. Exploring ideas and engaging with contemporary issues for people of all ages. By our powers combined, she hopes philosophy will take over the world!
Gabby is a Student Experience Officer at the University of Western Australia (UWA). Having also previously worked at Curtin College as a Student and Academic Services Officer.
She is currently completing a Master of Teaching (Primary) and hopes to focus on developing student experience for all ages from primary school to higher education.
She was part of the team that created Taylors Connect, an event for pathway students at UWA. The event helps students to connect with their student office, better understand their course and help ease the transition into second year at university. Prior to working in the education sector she worked in hospitality, retail and event management, in which she successful helped manage a 4,000 person festival in Margaret River.
Charles has worked in the education sector since 2015 primarily through charities and not-for-profit organisations. Passionate about empowering students and ensuring a holistic education, Charles has sat on the Executives of the Australian Debating Federation, United Nations Youth Australia, Tournament of Minds and as Chief Executive Officer of the Western Australian Debating League.
Having been educated in regional Western Australia, Charles believes education should first and foremost develop critical thinking skills and broaden people’s recognition of diverse perspectives. Having competed in Philosothon, including in its inaugural year, Charles has a deep appreciation for the power that a community of inquiry can have in developing collaboration among different individuals.
Planning to study his Masters of Secondary Teaching through the Teach for Australia program in 2022, Charles is very excited to increase the accessibility of philosophy for schools across Western Australia. Charles currently holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Political Science from the University of Western Australia and will be completing a Bachelor of Arts in English and Literary Studies in 2022.