Victorian Philosothon and Australasian Philosothon

What do you think it means to be human?  Are humans proper stewards of the environment? Is progress perilous? If you’re still thinking about the first question and what a challenge it is to respond to such a big, life question, you’d be right!  Since the start of this year, students who attended Philosophy Club have been pondering such dilemmas during lunch times and after school.  Students from every year level from Year 7 to Year 12 have engaged respectfully in philosophical inquiry to get a better understanding of their planet and their responsibilities to it and one another.

From the Club’s members, 10 students went on to compete in the Victorian and Australasian Philosothons.  This year we had two Mentors for the Victorian event, Juniors Club Captain, Adam El-Horri, and Seniors, Ellen Nicholls, to support the team which consisted of:  Jedd Stein, Chad Aizicowitz, Liam Atchison, Morris Bernstein, Gideon Stein, Avinash Thandaoori, Max Abrahams, and Izzy Blumberg.  Students convened after school every month for three months before the event to share ideas on the stimulus material and listen to and build on perspectives of each other.  This year Professor Laurance Splitter gave up his free time to join our talks in support of the team’s preparation and we’re very grateful for his generosity and sharing his expertise.

McKinnon SC philosophers placed 3rd overall in the Victorian event, securing our place in the 2016 Australasian Philosothon!

But wait, there’s more! As a result of placing 2nd in the state in 2014, McKinnon was invited to participate in the 2015 Australasian Philosothon held at North Sydney Girls Grammar in Sydney. The team consisted of: Max Abrahams, Chad Aizicowitz, Liam Atchison, Izzy Blumberg, Ellen Nicholls, Gideon Stein, Jed Stein, and Avinash Thandaoori. McKinnon philosophers grappled with students from all around Australia on Epistemological, Metaphysical and Ethical questions such as: Should we be able to profit from the sale of organs/body parts? Do numbers exist independently of humans? Should we limit people’s choices if that made them happier? The rigorous daily agendas included four- one hour guest lecturers, and a total of six- one hour community of inquiries.

McKinnon Secondary College was the only government non-selective school in the competition placing 5th overall among the twelve participating schools.
Whilst our students were successful in placing in the top three in the competition, they all agreed that learning and doing Philosophy does not really end with high placement in either state or national competition.  Rather, it is an ongoing, life skill that opens one’s eyes to many possibilities, challenges assumptions, and creates further opportunities for flexible thinking and logical decision making. Oh! let’s not forget the social aspect of talking to one another face to face and initiating friendships.  Our team nominated Liam as the most proficient at this, so next time you see him around campus ask him how he does it!

Thank you to our College’s Principal class, School Council, Jason Jewell, Mark Fernandez, all teachers who refer their students, Parents, Professor Laurance Splitter, the Bursar’s office, and especially to all the burgeoning philosophers whose dedication to challenging themselves to think deeper and more philosophically inspire me every day.  Support for this equal opportunity extension program began as the Philosophy Club (7 years ago!) and has developed to provide opportunities for students in Junior and Senior grades to participate in philosophical inquiry at school, Preshil Student Conferences, VAPS Student Philosophy forums, the Victorian and Australasian Philosothons and everywhere else in-between!

 The MSC philosophers and I invite you to like the MSC Philosophy Club Facebook page:

As well, a link to the power point slide detailing the event:

 Michelle Rocca, Philosophy coordinator

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