Complex Issues Raised at Annual Inter-Schools Philosothon

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The fifth annual Inter-Schools Philosothon, hosted by King’s College, took place on Tuesday evening. Six schools competed, each fielding a team of 11 pupils spanning all year groups.

The Philosothon encourages pupils to investigate ethical and other philosophical questions in the context of ‘Communities of Inquiry’.

A Community of Inquiry is an ancient Socratic process of dialogue which enables participants to “drill deep” into a complex question and work respectfully together to find answers by creative and open thinking.

The ideal is to enable latent thoughts to come into full consciousness. Participating in the event helps pupils to develop higher order thinking and communication skills through a series of discussions with pupils from other schools.

While there is an element of competition in a Philosothon, the main aim is to promote a sense of community by developing a shared understanding of values and purposes in a spirit of cooperation. It also develops skills in inquiry-based learning, ethical reasoning and a search for meaning through dialogue about open questions and contestable concepts.

The four rounds this year dealt with issues of philanthropy, the question of “slippery slopes”, whether animals feel pain in the same way as humans do and an investigation into the nature of freedom.

The topics generated constructive dialogue and mature engagement throughout the evening.

The schools who took part this year were Bristol Grammar School, Taunton School, Wellington School, Monkton Combe School, Torquay Girls’ Grammar School and King’s College, Taunton.

Well done to Bristol Grammar School for their winning title and to Wellington School for coming a close second.

Congratulations are also due to Carpenter House, who recently won the King’s College Inter-House Philosothon, and to Fourth Form pupil, Eleanor Clark, and Sixth Former, Harry Cooper-Simpson for being awarded Best Junior and Best Senior Philosopher respectively.

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