2016 Victorian Secondary Philosothon

Summary of the 2016 Victorian Philosothon

There was a real buzz at this year's Philosophon. Professor Laurance Splitter opened the nights preceding with the philosophical question 'Why are you here?', and then offerred an analysis of possible meanings and interpretations of this question and various philosophical responses one might make in thinking about the question of why indeed we were at the 2016 Philosothon event. This set the tone for lively and thoughtful discussions throughout the night from the ten participating schools:

Albert Park College
Ballarat Grammar
Dandenong High School
The King David School
Loreto College
Mckinnon Secondary College
Methodist Ladies College
Presbyterian Ladies College
Scotch College
Upwey High School


This year saw the introduction of the student nomination voting system technology which was a wonderful success (courtesy of Josh Coller). The student nominations bring a new dimension to the night; at the end of each round students can nominate peers that they thought added to understanding and philosophical contribution to the given question. StudentXXX from school XXXX was awarded the peer award and he receive a years supply of Philosophy Now magazine - presented by Professor Greg Restall of University of Melbourne.

As much as the spirit of the event entails that all participants share in the philosophical process, judging of philosothon responses were tallied and the following schools were noted for their team contributions on the night.

1) Mckinnon Secondary College

2) Methodist Ladies College

3) Scotch College

Big thanks to Professor Laurance Splitter for organisation of the event, questions and stimulus material. Thanks also to Bonnie, Tristan, Janette and the VAPS crew for making this happen. And finally, a very big thanks to all the teachers and parents for their support and involvement in such a terrific annual Victorian Philosophy event.
The following is a pic of the McKinnon team out the front of the Exhibition Centre:
Above short commentary of the Philosothon event written by Julian Lowndes 
Above photos provided by Michelle Rocca
Peer Voting Link - Click here  

Location: Ballarat Grammar City Cite, Level 12, 474 Flinders Street, Melbourne 3000

Date: Wednesday, 24th August 2016, 5:00-9:00pm


Twelve schools are invited to participate in the 8th Victorian Philosothon. If you would like your school to be involved, you will need to register and then form your student group ASAP. Ideally, the group you send will comprise two students from each year, 8,9,10 and 11, i.e. 8 students. But minor variations on these numbers are permitted.

For application forms for Judges and Facilitators, and further details, please go to:


There will be twelve “Community of Inquiry” sessions running consecutively for 30 minutes. All four students representing each school participate in each 30 minute discussion on four topics to be assigned at the Philosothon (but topic themes and some stimulus materials will be sent to participating schools in advance).  Group members remain in Year level groups for the first two sessions, and are then mixed  for the final two sessions.  There will be a break for refreshments between the second and third sessions.

A trophy will be awarded to the winning school at the end of the evening and medallions awarded in various categories. All students will receive a certificate to honour their selection to represent their school at the Philosothon.

The following pointers can be used to give students the general idea of what is expected: 

Guidelines for students

  • Be prepared for a thoughtful discussion rather than a debate or chit-chat
  • One person speaks at a time
  • Questions as well as statements are always welcome
  • Active listening is integral to the inquiry process
  • Always try to give reasons for your opinions
  • Check your assumptions, reasoning and evidence
  • Ask others for reasons, definitions, evidences, examples or assumptions as necessary
  • Define and discuss points of difference as well as points of agreement
  • Admit when you change your mind about something that you may have thought earlier


  • A sense of community is essential, even with people you are meeting for the first time
  • All opinions are to be respected
  • The discussion makes the pathway; it is not set by a leader
  • Different viewpoints and perspectives are a fundamental part of the process
  • Accept that others may disagree with you, and you with them
  • Mistakes made in good faith are to be seen as opportunities for learning and growth
  • Inquiry is a thinking process that can challenge assumptions and preconceived ideas
  • It may be that you need to change your mind
  • Inquiry is NOT about winning an argument
  • Inquiry is about thinking more deeply about matters of importance to you and other members of the community


Albert Park College
Ballarat Grammar
Dandenong High School
The King David School
Loreto College
Mckinnon Secondary College
Methodist Ladies College
Presbyterian Ladies College
Scotch College
Upwey High School


Katherine D'aquino, Philosophy Teacher, Serpell Primary School
Katelin Hoskin, Philosophy Teacher, Serpell Primary School
Mr Varun Kaushik, student, University of Melbourne, (experienced Facilitator from Hale)
Natalie Kellett, Philosophy Teacher, BAllarat Grammar School
Jessica Lee, Philosophy Teacher, Serpell Primary School
Julian Lowndes, VCE Philosophy Teacher, DECV
Ms Suzanne Oakley, Philosophy Teacher, Brunswick East PS
Deb Reys, Philosophy Teacher, Balwyn Primary School
Laurance Splitter, Philosophy Educator
Jesse Stephens, Philosophy Teacher, Serpell Primary School
Nga Tran, Philosophy Teacher, Serpell Primary School
Lachlan Zubevich, Philosophy Teacher, Serpell Primary School


Ms Monica Bini, Victorian Curriculum & Assessment Authority
Mr Liam Brown, Philosophy Tutor, Monash University
Mr Josh Coller, Philosophy Teacher, Wellington SC  

Ms Deb Cordingly, Philosophy Teacher, Pop-Up Philosophy
Ms Debbie Michels, Teacher Educator  
Mr Chris Fotinopolous, VCE Philosophy Teacher, Ballarat Grammar 
Ms Vanessa Hewson, Philosophy Teacher, Timbertop
Ms Jill Howells, AP  Brunswick East Primary School 
Ms Christina Majoinen,  Philosophy Tutor, Monash University
Mr James McGuire, Philosophy Tutor, Monash University
Dr Janette Poulton, VAPS Education and Innovations Officer 

Professor Greg Restall, University of Melbourne

Emmanuel Skoutas, AP  Dandenong High School

Dr Liz Suda, Program Co-ordinator, Humanities Education, Melbourne Museum


Professor Greg Restall, University of Melbourne

Rick Lewis    philosophynow.org



Voting in the Philosothon: Please click here to vote in the Philosothon.

The Philosothon concept was devised at Hale School in Perth by Matthew Wills and Leanne Rucks.  The first two Philosothons were held at Hale WA in 2007 and 2008. In 2008, Ascham School in Sydney held the first Philosothon outside of Perth. In Victoria, Philosothons have been held annually since 2009. For more information on this exciting idea, see the website: www.philosothon.org

More information about Philosothons is available at  http://fapsa.org.au/philosothon/