Philosothon is an annual competition wherein students explore philosophical and ethical issues. Students are scored highly where they demonstrate rigour, collaboration and creativity. An essential component of a Philosothon is the pedagogical model for teaching Philosophy to young people called Community of inquiry.
In July 2011 Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Associations (FAPSA) decided to host the first Australasian Philosothon at Cranbrook School in Sydney. This came as the culmination of a Winston Churchill Fellowship awarded to Matthew Wills to research ways of creating a National Philosothon. Each Australian state sent three teams (the top three placed teams in each state) and so twelve schools participated in the inaugural event. The three days consisted of speakers, games and Communities of Inquiries. University academics awarded points to students on the basis of their ability to construct an argument collaboratively on interesting philosophical and ethical issues. Encouragement awards were sponsored by the Australasian Association of Philosophy. ABC’s Radio National produced a programme about this event and to listen to the “The Philosopher’s Zone” broadcast on Radio National from 3rd September 2011, please click on the link below: “The Philosopher’s Zone” broadcast on Radio National on 3rd September 2011. Each year since then the Australasian Philosothon has been held in a different capital city.
West Australian Philosothon
In 2007 Hale School in Perth Western Australia embarked on a bold new project to promote higher order thinking among secondary school students. The success of Philosothons in WA has largely been due to its close association with APIS. The WA Philosothon grew each year eventually involving 30 schools and all the major WA universities. In 2014 Bunbury Cathedral College started up their own Philosothon with the assistance of key people such as Dr Felicity Haynes and Alison Freeman. Other Philosothons have been held in Albany and Karartha more recently. Some schools also run internal Philosothons within their House System and use this as a way of selecting a team to represent their school. In 2014 Middle and Junior School Philosothons were held at the Art Gallery of W.A. Recently APIS has inherited the Philosothon from Hale School and adopted a system whereby different schools host the event for three years and then hand it on to another school all under the auspices of APIS.
The first UK Philosothon happened in 2014 at Kings College, Taunton following a series of seminars run by Matthew Wills as part of a Federal Government grant in the form of an Endeavour Award in 2013. Father Mark Smith and Julie Arliss from the Philosophy & Religion Department at King’s have now spearheaded the Philosothon movement in the United Kingdom in collaboration with Dr Michael Lacewing from Heythrop College and Lizzy Lewis from SAPERE. The first Philosothon took place at King’s College in January 2014. Philosothons have also been held in Europe and Israel.