The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Inter-House Philosothon

Thinking Critically, Creatively and Collaboratively

We can all think, of course, but we do not all think well.  That's why being given a whole day to practice and refine our thinking skills is such a valuable opportunity.  On Tuesday 5 March, 53 boys from Years 5 to 8 accepted the challenge to compete in the inaugural Middle School Philosothon.

The Philosothon is an Inter-House event with four rounds of competition.  In each round a group of six boys form a 'Community of Inquiry' to discuss a philosophical question or an ethical dilemma.  Boys are judged on their ability to think rationally, to listen carefully and to communicate effectively.  They are rewarded for working together to develop a deeper collective understanding of the question and its related issues.

The Philosothon questions for 2019 were:

  1. Is it more important to help yourself, help your family, help your society, or help the world?
  2. What would you genetically change about humans to make them a better species?
  3. If a child somehow survived and grew up in the wilderness without any human contact, how "human" would they be without the influence of society and culture?
  4. Is privacy a right?

The competition began with a keynote address from Year 12 Scotch student and WA Philosothon champion, Lewis Orr, who urged the boys to have the courage to speak their mind and also the humility to listen to others.

There was a buzz of excitement as the boys launched into their first philosophical dialogue.  By Round 4, after three hours of concentrated talking, listening and thinking, there were signs of intellectual exhaustion amongst the competitors, but a few bright sparks were still going strong.

philosothon1.jpg  philosothon2.jpg  philosothon3.jpg

All the boys who competed are to be highly commended.  The teachers who facilitated and judged each round were impressed by the depth and originality of many boys' comments and by the spirit of collaboration throughout the competition.

Victory went to Bruce House, which produced Champion philosophers in every year group.  Henry Feutrill (8.6) was the Middle School Philosothon Champion, with Monty Smith (8.2) runner up and Lachlan Richardson (8.6) in third place.  Charlie Warden (5A) was both the Year 5 Champion and named 'Most Promising Philosopher'.  The awards will be presented at Middle and Junior School assemblies at the end of term.

My thanks to the College Enrichment Coordinators, Mr Sam Sterrett, Ms Deborah Mullin and Mrs Alison Webster who helped organise this event and to the Middle and Junior School teachers who facilitated and judged each round.

Reverend Justine Wall
Middle and Junior School Chaplain