What is a Philosothon?
The concept of a Philosothon was first introduced to schools in the UK by King's College. Our Chaplain, Father Mark Smith, set about promoting philosophical enquiry and rigour by bringing students from Years 9-13 together around stimulus material which allows the group to move beyond discussion towards critical inquiry. The model used for the event is the Community of Inquiry, a friendly competition where the idea is not at all to ‘score points’, but to enable the group to move towards awareness of underlying concepts that are inherent within a piece of stimulus material.
Students explore critical understanding of different positions and arguments that arise as a result of dialogue in the Community of Inquiry.
Students are encouraged to ask questions of other students in the group which analyse the issue at stake, which probe deeper and which try to understand and clarify both their own viewpoints and arguments and those expressed within the group. No formal philosophical expertise or grounding is expected of students, and groups should be jargon-free zones. An specialist judge sits outside the circle, scoring each student on their ability to move the argument on through genuine awareness of different responses and the reasons put forward by group participants.
After hosting successful inter school Philosothons, Father Mark is now involved in expanding the idea to schools across the UK.