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    Thinking Big

    Philosophy Workshop helps Second Form pupils develop their debating skills.

    ‘Is the middle of a polo part of a polo?’, ‘Should we develop a super AI?’, ‘Is it better to concentrate political power centrally or regionally and share it out?’ These were just some of the complex conundrums faced by Second Form pupils in a special Philosophy workshop, led by Jason Buckley, a trainer for the Philosophical Association of SAPERE.

    Using the fast-paced debating game Agumentag Wrestling, pupils were split into teams to debate these dilemmas (the 'tag' in 'argumentag' comes from working together to 'tag' each other in and build on what has been said). Over the course of the exercise, pupils were encouraged to develop their logic, body language, rhetoric and imagination to win victory for their team. Additionally, the 12- and 13-year-olds took part in an Evilometer, to ponder what they can know for certain (and whether they can be certain about that!).

    Pupils also came up with their own questions to debate, including: ‘Which is more important in cocoa production, the plantation owner or the workers?’, ‘Would you accept a cure for cancer if it meant half the population had to die?’ and the all-important ‘Does homework matter?’

    English teacher and Philosophy for Children (P4C) coordinator Mrs Sophie Poole said: “Our pupils threw themselves into the challenge and really enjoyed putting across their points of view. The workshop got them thinking, questioning and challenging; these are skills that it is vital we nurture as they grow up in the digital age.”

    The workshop was part of our annual programme of Field Weekend activities, which take place in early October. This year’s events have included:

    • First Form: Team-building activities and a visit to Bletchley Park, with a workshop on cyber-security.
    • Second Form: Philosophy workshop, plus a visit to Cadbury World and Bournville village to complement pupils’ studies of Fairtrade in Geography and Quaker Philanthropy in Religious Studies. 
    • Third Form: History and English trip to the battlefields of France and Belgium.
    • Fourth-Sixth Form: CCF trips – RAF to RAF Wittering; Army to Yardley; Navy to Portsmouth; Community Service Unit (CSU) activities.