Philosothon started in 2007 with seven schools participating at Hale School in Western Australia. Since then it has grown phenomenally, and currently involves over 250 schools. In 2011 the first Australian National Philosothon took place in Sydney NSW. Currently there are 16 Philosothons operating around Australia and N.Z.
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 encourage students to investigate complex philosophical and ethical questions using 'Communities of Enquiry'. In the process of preparing and participating in Philosothons, pupils have the opportunity to develop higher order thinking and communication skills.
Important as debating skills are, the model of Community of Enquiry is different and seeks to develop rigorous skills of dialogue, where every voice is heard and every idea is taken seriously.
Geoffrey Klempner, who directs Philosophy Pathways and the International Society for Philosophy, advises as follows:
While one is being entertained by the thoughts of philosophers, one can take additional comfort in the thought that one's mental powers are being steadily improved. Philosophy teaches us to argue a case more forcefully, to express our thoughts better, and also to be more flexible and creative in our approach to the problems that face us in our work or our daily lives. Recently, much has been made of the contrast between logical and creative approaches to problem solving, between 'vertical' and 'lateral' thinking. One of the most significant features of philosophical problem solving is the way that both approaches are closely integrated. To make headway in philosophy one needs to see round problems, to treat with suspicion any starting points or assumptions; in other words, to think laterally as well as vertically. The philosopher prizes equally the faculties of logic and vision, yet also learns to appreciate the completely unexpected move, the gift of serendipity.
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