Students win quest pondering life’s big questions

Posted 15th November 2014

We once thought the world was flat – what else might we be wrong about?

This big mystery question at this year’s Northern NSW Philosothon was clearly no hurdle to a team of 17 young philosophers from The Armidale School, being named overall Division A winner and taking out the individual titles in both senior and junior divisions.

While the main aim of the event is for students to explore the topics and reach insight about complex ethical issues, there is a competitive purpose as well. Teams from schools from the North Coast and New England competed in the event, held at Bishop Druitt College, Coffs Harbour on 14 November.

This year’s topics set questions included: Is a disease free world possible? Is it desirable?

Is world peace possible? Is it desirable? Is our pursuit of happiness making us sad?

Does evil exist? And, why is it important to us to look good?

TAS teacher Catherine Boydell said the trick to the style of competition is to know that the aim is to ensure the discussion can continue.

“Points are awarded to philosophers who think differently and can direct the discussion into new areas. Points are never awarded to philosophers who disagree aggressively, so debating skills don’t necessarily come in handy,” she said.

At the end of the day, TAS students Felix Gifford (senior) and Mike Nyathi (junior) won the Spirit of Philosothon awards, to the students who best demonstrates the qualities of a philosopher – acceptance of others’ ideas, ability to continue a discussion positively, and encourage others to do the same. This award is made by adult judges.

Meanwhile, Harry Wright (Year 11) and Jack Halliday (Year 6) took out the Philosopher’s Philosopher, determined by participants who vote for the students that best grasp the philosophical question, craft outstanding arguments and contribute original ideas.

“The topics were very interesting because you could take them off in so many tangents,” Harry said. “It was great to be challenge your thinking in a relaxed environment with new people, who had a range of interesting responses.”

TAS won the senior division, defeating 10 other schools. The boys are eligible to participate in a national competition early in the New Year.

Philosothon 2014

Philosothon award winners Mike Nyathi, Harry Wright, Felix Gifford and Jack Halliday contemplate the big issue of where they will put the trophy TAS won at the Northern NSW Philosothon in Coffs Harbour on 14 November.