Narromine St Augustine's students attend Big Ideas Challenge at CSU in Dubbo

Students from St Augustine’s Narromine have attended a two-day philosothon focused on critical and creative thinking. 

Ten students from Year 5 and 6, joined 52 other students from, St Mary’s, St Lawrence’s and Dubbo South Public School to attend the Central West Leadership Academy’s inaugural Big Ideas Challenge at Dubbo’s Charles Sturt University campus on August 30 and 31.

The children were broken into interschool teams and faced a number of challenges which required team work, critical and creative thinking. 

St Augustine’s teacher Edward Berger said it was a valuable experience for the students, as it exposed them to new ideas, new people and new ways of problem solving. 

“I thought it was a valuable experience as the children made new friends, learnt teamwork by working with children from other schools and learnt to think differently,” Mr Berger said. 

The event culminated in a 45 minute community of inquiry where teams were challenged to think through activities such as ‘What would happen if you were the boss of the world?’.

I thought it was a valuable experience as the children made new friends, learnt teamwork by working with children from other schools and learnt to think differently.

Edward Berger

“Some challenges included ideas for yet-to be developed apps, a short drama put together, `if you had a money tree in your backyard', designing the perfect person with all the best physical and emotional qualities,” Mr Berger said. 

The Academy won a grant from the Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Associations to host the first regional primary Philosothon in Australia.

Principal of the Academy, Mandi Randell, said she was “blown away” with the high quality of critical and creative thinking over the course of two days.

“We have extremely intelligent and talented students in the Dubbo area and the students enjoyed working on teams with kids from other schools," Ms Randell said.

Matthew Wills, project manager for the FAPSA Philosothon Project commended the Academy for taking up the challenge of introducing a Philosothon format to the Central West. 

“There is plenty of research and anecdotal evidence to back up the claim that significant academic and social benefits result from this sort of program,” Mr Willis said.

“Benefits such as speaking confidence, listening skills, patience with others and overall self-esteem can all be linked to this initiative," he said.

Mr Berger said the event was well organised and ran smoothly. 

Dr Elizabeth Murray, Associate Head of the School of Teacher Education at CSU said the university was proud to host the Big Ideas Challenge.

“It was great to see so many young minds thinking creatively and critically, and working collaboratively to achieve shared goals. We look forward to the next one!” Dr Murray said.