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Meriden places third in Australasian Philosothon

Back row: Anjali Kailasanathan and Sydney Nguyen. Front row: Naomi Riaz, Kaitlyn Blair and Anjali Popuri

Meriden girls have demonstrated their ability to grapple with complex philosophical concepts, placing third overall in the Australasian Philosothon and achieving three top-five rankings in the national competition. The team achieved second place in Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking, as well as fifth place in Collaborative Thinking.

The team comprised five talented students from Years 9 to 11: Kaityln Blair, Anjali Kailasanathan, Sydney Nguyen, Anjali Popuri and Naomi Riaz.

Over two days, the girls engaged in a series of Community of Inquiry discussions and were assessed on their listening skills, as well as their ability to constructively build upon or respectfully critique others’ viewpoints. Some of the questions they were asked to consider included, “Are our subjective experiences just physical, or is there something more to consciousness?”, “Should uniforms be gendered?” and “Can anyone be a philosopher?”

Professor Rob Wilson, Chief Judge of the Australasian Philosothon, extended his congratulations to the girls on their outstanding achievements.

“Meriden did especially well in placing third, and in the performances of a number of its students. The wealth of creative, critical and collaborative thinkers at the school is both a credit to the school and a bright sign for society!” said Professor Wilson.

Leading up to the competition, the girls worked collaboratively, engaging in respectful discourse on various topics to sharpen their skills in philosophical thinking and inquiry.

Meriden’s Dean of Lateral Learning and Coordinator of Philosophy Club, Ms Priscilla Curran, said participating in the Philosothon has provided the girls with invaluable skills and benefits.

“They have each enhanced their critical and creative thinking skills, as well as their capacity to articulate and defend an argument with sound reasoning and justification. Most importantly, they have learned the importance of truly listening to others and that it is perfectly acceptable to change their viewpoint throughout a discussion,” said Ms Curran.

Anjali Popuri said the Philosothon provides an opportunity to engage in conversations with students who have diverse experiences, values and backgrounds, thereby gaining their unique insights into the provided stimulus.

“I love that there is no definitive ‘right answer’ in philosophy. We are challenged to think critically and assess the ethical and logical merit of our ideas. For me, this is far more rewarding than just being told if I am right or wrong,” she said.

Anjali Kailasanathan, who in addition to contributing to her team’s success, took home first place in the Year 12 Division, said she enjoys studying philosophy because it applies to various fields of knowledge.

“It allows me to make connections to areas that shape the way people think and perceive the world, such as politics and science. I also believe studying philosophy is a great opportunity to practise listening; engaging in open discussions demands significant mental flexibility and a desire to explore various versions of ‘truth’,” she said.

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