VAPS Newsletter

27 July 2018
Term 3 2018
Events Calendar
VAPS Conference
Secondary Philosothon
Middle Years Philosothon
Primary Years Philosothon
FAPSA Conference
Ethics Trail
Philosophy in Schools Readings
Philosothon Grants
Victorian Association of Philosophy in Schools

Events Calendar


Sunday 29th July

VCE Unit 4 Forum


Saturday 12th August

Secondary Philosothon Briefing

Thursday 30th August

Secondary Philosothon


Thur 13th September

In-action Day at Scienceworks

Fri-Sat 14-15th September

VAPS Conference


Sunday 14th October

Level 1 Training (Day 1)

Sunday 28th October

Level 1 Training (Day 2)


Sunday 11th November

Level 1 Training (Day 3)

Thursday 15th November

Middle Years Philosothon (Melbourne Museum)


VAPS Conference

VAPS Conference: Cultivating Curiosity: Philosophy and STEM


The Biennial VAPS conference will be running again in September this year. 

The conference title is Cultivating Curiosity: Philosophy and STEM


The theme for this year focusses on the role of philosophy in STEM areas and will be held between the Friday 14th and Saturday 15th of September at Siteworks in Brunswick.

We will also host an In-action Day at Scienceworks Museum in Spotswood on Thursday 13th September. This will be a day for attendees to come and observe a philosophical community of inquiry in a philosothon style run by expert facilitators. This will also include a planetarium show for all attendees!


We are very excited to announce our keynote speakers for the conference:

Dr. Tim Sprod, Chair of the Tasmanian Association of Philosophy in School, who will present on why we should engage in philosophical inquiry in STEM subjects.

Krystal De Napoli from Monash University, who will present on Indigenous Astronomy and Ethics.


Proposals for presentations can be submitted here.

Please register for the conference here.

Please see our event page here.


Secondary Philosothon


The Secondary Philosothon will be held on Thursday the 30th of August at the Ballarat Grammar City Site. The event will begin at 5:00pm sharp and run until approximately 9:00pm. Schools and volunteers are encouraged to arrive between 4:30 and 5:00pm. 


Students will participate in four rounds of philosophical communities of inquiry. Students will be guided by a facilitator with experience in philosophical communities of inquiry. There will also be a judge in each group for each round. 


The judge will award points based on three categories:

Critical Thinking: including understanding, arguing, evaluating, challenging,  providing counterexamples, identifying assumptions 

Creative Thinking: including contributing original ideas, making links, providing examples, constructing analogies, providing thought experiments

Collaborative Thinking: including engaging appropriately, encouraging peers, showing intellectual humility, building on others' ideas, showing intellectual courage.


At the end of the night, awards will be given out to students and school teams who have engaged in philosophical dialogue to an exceptionally high standard.


Observers are welcome to attend the Secondary Philosothon and volunteers are always needed to help set up. If you are interested, please contact the philosothon coordinator.


VAPS would like to thank Harry Leather and Ballarat Grammar School for generously donating their venue and for supporting VAPS in organising the Secondary Philosothon each year. 


Students will participate in four rounds of philosophical communities of inquiry. They will be guided be a facilitator, and observed by a judge in each of these rounds.


Students will be mixed with a variety of other schools in each round. In the first two rounds, students will be in year level groups, and in the last two rounds students will be in mixed age groups. 


Each round will have a different stimulus and a probing question. The stimulus items are released to schools prior to the event for students to read and view before attending the night. The questions are not revealed until the round begins on the night. Students' thinking will be provoked by the stimulus item, then the question will focus and guide their discussion in a philosophical direction.


The four stimulus items for this year are:

Round 1: Ethics > Environmental Ethics

Round 2: Metaphysics > Personhood and the Brain

Round 3: Aesthetics > Bringing Arts to Life

Round 4: Epistemology > Epistemic Injustice in Education


You can access the stimuli through google drive here.












Middle Years Philosothon

Immigration Museum

In Term 2, VAPS held a Middle Years Philosothon at the Immigration Museum. Nine schools attended the museum and participated in philosophical communities of inquiry within the Mahatma Gandhi exhibit and the Identity exhibit.


The theme for all of the VAPS Middle Years Philosothons this year is 'Rights'. Students ventured into a wide variety of philosophical areas during their dialogues, including what rights people are owed, what rights people can demand, how the issue of rights has changed over time, and external ethical issues that impact our view if people's rights, such as media representations of marginalised groups. 


Thanks you to all the students, teachers, facilitators, and organisers of this wonderful event. 


Facilitators are needed for all philosothons. If you are interested, please fill out this short form.

Student Reflections

What is a Right?

A right is something that gives either a group of people or a person an allowance to do something.

A right is something or someone who has the power to do whatever they are willing to want to do and doesn’t needs to be told to.

 A right is when you are able to do something freely without being told that you are doing something wrong. A right is also when somebody is given an approval of something they are able to do without another person telling you it is something you cannot do.


Why are Rights Important?

Rights are important as without them nobody would be clear as to what they are and aren’t allowed to do.

Rights are important because without rights then everyone would not be even and if you have rights you are able to choose to be capable of doing what you are willing to do.

Rights are important so we are able to know what we are able to do and what we are not able to do. Rights are also important so we have rules to be able to follow and do the right thing so nobody gets injured.


What am I Still Wondering About?

How come the European travellers didn’t respect the true owners of this land aka the Indigenous people, but they just took over without their permission?

I am still wondering about why everyone gets different rights even though we should all be treated equally? I am also wondering about why specific people get to choose rights for other people?


- Year 5 Students from Serpell Primary School.






Primary Years Philosothon

Primary Years Philosothon

The Primary Years Philosothon was held at the Ian Potter Gallery as part of the National Gallery of Victoria's Australian focus. 120 students in years 4 to 6 from 12 different schools came together to collaborate philosophically.


Students from different schools were grouped together and walked around to three chosen artworks. 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 in the artwork.


After the three 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 various philosothon groups.


Reflection of Primary Years Philosothon:

Lloyd Street Primary School

"The aim of the Philosothon is to promote deep thinking by bringing together students from different schools from years 3-6.  We considered how the deep thinking is like shallow and deep water thinking.  Shallow water thinking is observing what is there.  Deep water thinking includes slow, conscious, reflective thinking. " - Chloe, level 3

"Some of the deep thinking and BIG IDEAS we explored in our groups were: Culture, British settlement, rights, freedom, beliefs, equality, women's rights, identity, responsibility and belonging." - Will, level 3

"It was a great day and lots of fun.  Everyone did lots of philosophical thinking inspired by artwork.  We shared our ideas with confidence.  We saw artwork that was really engaging and told stories." -Valentino, level 3

Mentone Grammar

Something that stuck with me was... "how to think beyond what you see and how to inquire about anything. How to think in depth about what I see." - Year 4 student.

Philosophy is important... "so you can dive deeper into a question and expand your knowledge and creativity" -Year 6 student.

Philosophy is important ..."because it really gets you to think hard, and use deep thinking over shallow thinking more regularly." - Year 6 student.

King David School

"I felt that my perspective was challenged on a range of different issues." - Michelle, Year 6

"When we discussed equality, it was interesting to understand other people's points of view." Amielle, Year 5

"I found it interesting how women had to stay at home while their husbands worked. It just doesn't seem fair." Lucy, Year 4

"What rights do we actually have as humans?" Eva, Year 5

FAPSA Conference

FAPSA Conference: What is the Future of Philosophy in Schools?


The FAPSA Conference was held in Fremantle, WA this year from 9-11th of July.


The first day kicked off with an in-action day at the Hale School with internationally renowned experts in facilitating philosophical communities of inquiry Peter Worley and Louise Gusterson. This included a session with primary students and another one with secondary students. The afternoon at Hale School was spent in professional development and reflection with Peter Worley.


Day two began with a keynote presentation from Sandy Lynch focussing on the future of philosophy in schools and how to move forward. After a full days of sessions, the day was concluded with our second keynote presentation from Peter Worley. His presentation investigated how metacognition could be better incorporated into the philosophical community of inquiry. 


We concluded with the third and final day which opened with public breakfast panel discussing why philosophy in schools is so important. This panel included Laura D'Olimpio, Michael Hand, Sandy Lynch, John Haldane, and David Gribble. Following this session, Michael Hand delivered the final keynote address of the conference. His presentation was on how we might teach moral education through a philosophical community of inquiry. After a final day of sessions, the conference wrapped up with a dinner at a local Fremantle Restaurant. 


Throughout the conference we had fantastic VAPS and Victorian representation with Janette, Hayley, Harry, and Ben from the committee all presenting, as well as other non-VAPS victorians including Karen Bland, Rob Wilson, and Michelle Sowey


































Ethics Trail

Ethics Trail - Melbourne Zoo


Joanne Roberts from VAPS has been developing a self-guided trail at Melbourne Zoo for teachers to bring their students to experience. The trail is strongly aligned with the ethical capabilities in the Victorian Curriculum for F-10.



On July 27, a professional development session was held at the zoo to support teachers in using the trail with their students during excursions. 

The trail encourages educators to promote humane education in Victorian classrooms, advance the standard of empathy and ethics education practices as well as provide resources and networking for Victorian teachers.


Future sessions are available for free to teachers here. Future sessions will be based on the new Ethics Trail and self-guided program, Ethics and Conservation, which has been specifically developed for the Melbourne Zoo. This professional development opportunity would best suit Year 3- 10 teachers who are interested in previewing the Melbourne Zoo Ethics Trails and case studies, and/or teachers interested in developing their competencies for teaching ethical issues in a cultural institution and non-formal education setting.

































VCE Events

 Sunday 20th May

Unit 3 Forum

Sunday 29th July

Unit 4 Forum


Unit 2 Forum

VCE Network Meetings

Thursday 9th August

The Good Life & Essay Writing for the Exam

Saturday 13th October

Chief Examiner's Report


The Chief Examiner's Report from 2017 is now available. Please find it here.


The new edition of the Unit 3 and 4 Text book is in the process of being published and will be available for 2019


2019 will bring with it a new study design. Get your head around it early here. Also have a look at the new 2019 prescribed texts here

Unit 4 Forum

The Unit 4 Forum will be held on 29 July at VCASS. The registration form can be found here.

Student can submit their questions for the Chief Examiner here.

The schedule is as follows:


12:30: Venue opens for registration

1:00: Dr Matthew Sharpe (Deakin University) On Callicles, Plato and Aristotle and the Good Life

Associate Professor Matthew Sharpe teaches philosophy at Deakin, and has published widely on modern receptions of classical philosophy.

2:00: Paul Barry (The University of Melbourne) On Singer and our Obligations to Others

3:00: Break for refreshments

3:15: Phil Etherington (VCAA Chief Examiner) Tips for the philosophy exam

An experienced teacher of VCE Philosophy and the Chief Examiner for the subject, Phil is experly placed to offer advice and feedback on the VCE Philosophy Examination.

4:30: Venue closes.


Please see our website and calendar for full details about venues, times, and registrations for all events.

Please join the VAPS VCE google group here.

VCE Network Leaders can be emailed below:






Bookings are still being taken for:

Middle Years Philosothon at Melbourne Museum on the 15th of November for students from years 5 - 8.

Secondary Philosothon on August 30 for students in years 8 - 11.


For more details please contact the Philosothon Coordinator here 


Facilitators are needed for all philosothons. If you are interested, please fill out this short form.


Our upcoming Introductory Certificate (level 1) in Philosophy in Schools will run over three Sundays (14th Oct, 28th Oct, 11th Nov). 

Registration forms can be found here.


We are seeking expressions of interest to run an Advanced Practice Certificate for Philosophy in Schools between 17-19 Nov. 


The VAPS Conference will take place between 14-16 Sep. 

Please register for the conference here.

Please see our event page here.



For more information, please contact our Education Officer here.

Secondary School Events

The VCE Unit 4 Forum will take place on 29 July at VCASS. The registration form can be found here.



Philosophy in Schools Readings

Michael Hand - On the Distinctive Educational Value of Philosophy


Michael Hand discusses the value that philosophy brings to the educational environment. Michael Hand defends the view that philosophy ought to be included in the school curriculum because of this distinct educational value it has for children.


You can read the full article here.



Philosothon Grants



Australian Philosothons have recently received a boost in funding after being awarded the Templestone Grant. Students, teachers, and schools can access this funding to attend philosothons by applying directly to FAPSA here.





VAPS has also 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, the VAPS conference, and Level 1 training. Grant applications will be assessed based on need, with preference going to students attending Philosothons first. 

For more information, contact the treasurer here.




Chair: Bonnie Zuidland (Email) 

Deputy-Chair: Dr Harry Galatis (Email)

Secretary: Lucas McGauran (Email)

Treasurer: Ben Kilby (Email)



Education and Innovations Officer: Dr Janette Poulton (Email)

Webmaster: Julian Lowndes (Email)

Social Media and Publications Officer: Tristan Hill (Email)

Membership Officer: Ben Kilby (Email)


VAPS Newsletter