About the Philosothon

Philosothons originated in Perth Western Australia. While Matthew Wills was the Head of Philosophy
and Ethics at Hale School, he sought to promote P4C pedagogy as he introduced a new ATAR
course in Philosophy and Ethics. In order to provide students with an opportunity to engage with
other students in 2007 he invited nearby schools to send teams of five students to represent their
school. University based Philosophers participated as judges and the evening was a great success.
Since then this same model has been replicated throughout Australia and the UK. The number of
schools participating in Philosothons annually has been estimated at around 400-500.

A Philosothon is an event that encourages school students to investigate ethical and philosophical
questions in the context of ‘communities of inquiry’. Participating in the event helps students to
develop higher order thinking and communication skills through a series of discussions with
students from other schools. These discussions are facilitated by philosophy teachers and
adjudicated by a panel of educators with appropriate academic or educational qualifications. While
there is an element of competition in a Philosothon, it aims 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, higher-order reflective thinking and a
search for meaning through dialogue about open questions and contestable concepts.

At a Philosothon, it is usual to make awards for individuals and overall schools based on criteria
such as collaboration, critical thinking nd creativity. While this introduces an element of competition,
it should be emphasised that a Philosothon is not a debate and the performance criteria are based
upon the extent to which students excel in engaging in collaborative philosophical inquiry.

The Australasian Philosothon has been run annually in different capital cities since 2013.
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