VAPS Newsletter

06 October 2019
Term 4 2019

Inspired by the Philosophy for Children movement, VAPS promotes critical and creative thinking among young people.

We believe that learning Philosophy opens students' minds to big ideas.

We support teachers in fostering the intellectual and social skills that enable students to think philosophically - through training, networking, curriculum development, and events.

Events Calendar
Scienceworks Philosothon
Secondary Philosothon
Australasian Philosothon
Regional & Rural Schools
Philosothon Grants
Schools Workshops
Philosophy in Schools Readings
Victorian Association of Philosophy in Schools
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000

Events Calendar


1st - 3rd October

Australasian Philosothon - Radford College, Canberra

Friday 18th October

Ethics Trail PD - Melbourne Zoo

Sunday 20th October

COI Training - Day 1 (Brunswick East Primary School)

Sunday 27th October

COI Training - Day 2 (Brunswick East Primary School)


Sunday 10th November

COI Training - Day 3 (Melb Museum)

Fri-Sun 15th, 16th, 17th November

Advanced Practice Training (University of Melbourne)

Thursday 21st November

Middle Years Philosothon (Melbourne Museum)



VAPS has one philosothon upcoming in term 4.


Middle Years Philosothon (year 5-8) at Melbourne Museum (21st Nov)


All Primary & Middle years Philosothons are 10 students per school.

The Secondary Philosothon comprises teams of 8 students per school: 

2x year 8, 2x year 9, 2x year 10, 2x year 11.

(Fewer students per school can be arranged by negotiation).


For more details or to register interest in attending, please contact the Philosothon Coordinator here.


Facilitators are needed for all philosothons.

This is a chance to visit the exhibits for free and gain some valuable professional development experience conducting philosophical communities of inquiry with students.  You will love it!


If you are interested, please fill out this short form or contact the education officer here.

Teacher Training

Introduction to the Community of Inquiry Training will begin at the start of Term 4.

Registration forms can be found here.

More details can be found here.


Bookings are being taken for the Semester 2 training starting on October 20th.


Advanced Practice Training will be run as an intensive three days in November for those teachers who have already completed the Introduction to the Community of Inquiry Training and are looking to develop their practice further. The dates are 15th, 16th, and 17th of November


For more information about all professional development, please contact our Education Officer here.













Scienceworks Philosothon

Scienceworks Philosothon Recap

On 12th September, VAPS partnered with Scienceworks Museum to deliver a Middle Years Philosothon.  90 students in Years 5 to 8 from 9 different schools came together to collaborate philosophically.


Students from different schools were grouped together collaborating within a Community of Inquiry about a viewing of a planetarium show, and then a chosen exhibit from around Scienceworks. At each site, a group of ten students and a facilitator participated in a philosophical Community of Inquiry about the big ideas that students were struck by from their viewing.


After the two Communities of Inquiry, students returned to their school groups for a debrief and to collect all the ideas each student had been discussing in their mixed-school philosothon groups.


Please see our philosothons page for other upcoming philosothons, including how to register students or to participate as a facilitator.

Moonee Ponds West PS - Our Philosothon Thinking

Students in Years 5 & 6 from Moonee Ponds West Primary School participated in the Philosothon. These ten students were generous enough to provide us with feedback.


Our school collectively decided that a main theme running through all of our Communities of Inquiry was the question 'What does it mean to be alive?


Some groups discussed aliens and how they would be classified. If aliens thought the same thoughts and behaved the same way as humans, would both be classified as persons in the same way?


Our initial thinking was that it doesn't matter what you look like or what species you are, it's how you act and how you choose to live your life that makes you a person.


Others discussed more human topics, such as how should we choose to live our lives? And we thought that a life that is not lived to the fullest should not be classified as a life well lived. In order for a life to be worthwhile, you need to get up off the couch and be an active participant in the world.


Another one of our topics focussed on artificial intelligence, and specifically on human emotion. Interesting questions were raised about the possibility of human emotions being programmed into robots, and whether that would mean that we needed that robot in the same way we treat humans. 


Josh, Lara, Bella, Angus, Annika, Ruby, Finn, Kaan, Thomas, Harry, Jeremy


Moonee Ponds West Primary School














Secondary Philosothon

Secondary Philosothon Recap

The Secondary Philosothon was held on Tuesday the 13th of August at the Wesley College with special guest, Philosopher A.C. Grayling.


All schools and students participated admirably and it was great to see some new schools in attendance, as well as some regular schools who have been coming for years.


The school results of the Secondary Philosothon are as follows:

1st: Wesley College

2nd: Mentone Grammar School

3rd: Loreto College Ballarat 


On the night, our expert judges awarded four awards in different categories.

The award for overall contributions went to:

Max - King David College

The VAPS award for A Caring Thinker:

Mila - Northcote High School

The University of Melbourne Award for A Critical Thinker:

Linda - Methodist Ladies' College

The Deakin University Award for A Creative Thinker:

Sofia - Melbourne Girls' Grammar

Students used a voting app to decide at the end of each round for themselves who was contributing significantly to their Community of Inquiry. The student who received the most votes was:

Meredith - Melbourne Girls' College


Congratulations to all students who participated and challenged their thinking on the night.


During the fourth round, each Community of Inquiry group discussed and formulated a question. While judges were tabulating the votes, all students got to hear all questions and discussed what they thought was the most philosophically intriguing. The question with the most votes was:

'Is ignorance immoral?'

What are your thoughts on this question?


Congratulations to all who participated, and we look forward to seeing you all next year!





Australasian Philosothon

Australasian Philosothon 2019

This year Radford College in Canberra hosted the 8th FAPSA Australasian Philosothon between the 1st & 3rd of October. There were 19 schools participating in the event, each qualifying team having been successful in their local Philosothon. 


Congratulations to our Victorian school representative who participated in the Australasian Philosothon after their quality contributions at the 2018 VAPS Secondary Philosothon: MacRobertson Girls' High School.


Well done to North Sydney Girls High school (NSW), St Andrew's Cathedral School (NSW), and Narrabundah College & Telopea Park School (ACT) on their exceptional contributions as a group to the Philosothon over the week.


A special shout out to three students who were recognised for their outstanding contributions:

Thomas from Narrabundah College

Salam from Churchie

Hannah from Georgiana Molloy Anglican School


You can catch up on the livestream tweets that VAPS sent out during the events here.






Regional & Rural Schools

VAPS Philosophical Practice Officer

VAPS has implemented a new position to assist regional and rural schools with incorporating philosophical inquiry into their schools.


The Philosophical Practice Officer is available to visit schools seeking to build philosophical inquiry into their school's practice.


VAPS has secured grant money to assist regional and rural schools thanks to the Department of Education through its Strategic Partnerships Program. Regional and Rural schools will receive at 75% discount of all costs (which will be taken from the grant money).





For more information, contact the treasurer here.

Philosophical Practice Officer's Offerings

                                                           (75% discount for Regional or Rural Schools)

TYPE                                                                                                                     COST (dis)

School Visit Base Fee (0-2 hours from Melb)                                       $100 ($25)

School Visit Base Fee (2+ hours from Melb)                                        $250 ($63)


School Day in Class (demonstrations; mentoring; planning)     $500 ($125)

After School PL (1 Hour)                                                                             $400 ($100)

Whole Day PL                                                                                                $1200 ($300)


*Combinations of sessions available

*These sessions can be made available to non-regional or rural school for the full fee upon request.


For more information, contact the treasurer here.

Philosothon Grants


VAPS has received funding from the Department of Education to support regional and remote schools to access philosophy events. 

Funding is available to attend all VAPS events, including Philosothons, and Level 1 training.


All regional and rural teachers and schools can apply for grants for upcoming philosothons this year or any of the trainings this year

For more information, contact the treasurer here.


Schools Workshops

Ethical Capability School Workshops

WORKSHOP 1 - Introduction to the Ethical Capability Curriculum (1 Hour)


This 1 hour workshop is an introduction to the Ethical Capability curriculum via a hands-on interactive exploration of an ethical concept using tools from the toolkits through the pedagogical approach of Community of Inquiry.


WORKSHOP 2 - Implementation of the Ethical Capability Curriculum (6.5 Hours)

This 1 day workshop supports teachers to plan their Ethical Capability curriculum by taking them through the three stages of planning. At each stage participants are taken through an exploration, using tools from the toolkit and modelling the practice of Community of Inquiry, of an ethical issue. Participants explore and experience how to use the toolkit to explore conceptual understanding and ethical decision making. At each stage teachers are provided with time to reflect on the implementation of the curriculum in their own classroom.


WORKSHOP 3 - Implementation of the Ethical Capability Toolkit (6.5 Hours)

This one day workshop supports teachers in developing their toolkit for their own classroom.


WORKSHOP 4 - Practicing Ethical Capability in Context (6.5 Hours)

Is a one-day training program that familiarises participants with the EC curriculum and gives them the experience of thinking together and learning within a Community of Inquiry in a public place.


WORKSHOP 5 - A developmental Approach to Assessment and Reporting of the Ethical Capability (12 Hours)

This workshop introduces practitioners to using a developmental approach to learning and assessment. Focussing on the learning intentions and achievement standards outlined in the Ethical Capability, participants

will learn to gather appropriate data and create rubrics useful for their teaching context.


This training meets AITSL standards for PD requirements for Pre-service, Graduate and Proficient teachers in relation to professional development supporting the implementation of the Ethical Capability in the Victorian Curriculum Levels F-10.

Philosophy in Schools Readings

Ben Kilby - Who am I? Why am I here? Why children should be taught philosophy (beyond better test scores)

VAPS Executive member, Ben Kilby, discusses the benefits of Philosophy in Schools beyond improvement in test scores in an article in The Conversation. Arguing that the intrinsic existential benefits of doing Philosophy with Children and more important than any academic gain, cognitive advancement, or transferable skills acquired. 


This article was also followed up by radio interviews in Adelaide & Sydney:

Introduction of Philosophical Studies for Students Aged Six, Breakfast on Radio Adelaide, Monday 19 August 2019, Radio Adelaide 101.5

The Things Philosophy Can Do For Schools, Weekend Breakfast Saturday 24 August 2019, 2ser 107.3, Sydney,




Chair: Dr Harry Galatis (Email)

Deputy-Chair: Jill Howells (Email)

Secretary: Marilyn Wiber (Email)

Treasurer: Ben Kilby (Email)



Education and Innovations Officer: Dr Janette Poulton (Email)

Membership Officer: Ben Kilby (Email)

Philosophical Practice Officer: Ben Kilby (Email)

Philosothon Officer: (Email)

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