Queensland Schools compete in first Australian Ethics Olympiad at St Peters

Normally run online between schools, this year the format of the Ethics Olympiad has changed, now students can compete face-to-face across Australia. Schools send 5–10 students to participate in the event.  During the day students are involved in a series of three Ethics Olympiad heats where they are scored according to set criteria rewarding, clear, concise, respectful discourse around interesting ethical cases. At the end of the day two teams face off for the Gold and Silver Medals. A Bronze Medal is also awarded to the third placed team.

During the Queensland series of the Ethics Olympiad 12 schools from around Queensland came together to discuss ethical and moral issues in an atmosphere of openness, trust, listening and respect.

Tim Kotzur, Head of College says, “it’s important our young people have these types of experiences to talk about such important issues. It is perhaps through such opportunities that the, at times, unedifying political debates in this country will be elevated to a higher level.”

Matthew Wills Ethics Olympiad Manager, says the Ethics Olympiad will:

  • Give students the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills
  • Develop an ability to argue respectfully and build on each other’s argument
  • Build a sense of team work in responding to difficult ethical issues. 

Teams discuss interesting, yet contentious ethical issues so students “can have heated responses to them,” Matt says, “the idea is to sit them down and to give them an opportunity to foster respectful listening and responding to other people’s points of view.”

During the event held at the College, St Peters students Alexandra Year 11, Imogen Year 10, Lief Year 11 and Matthew Year 11 competed against several strong teams in a day of heated ethical discussion and narrowly missed out on the Bronze medal.

Lief admits, “it’s not really like debating, instead of trying to destroy each other’s argument, you have to build each other up.”

Matthew says, “We have free will, we’re allowed to agree or disagree with another team.”

Imogen says, “It’s the first time this sort of thing has been held face-to-face so everyone is figuring out how it goes.”

Alexandra believes they, “Worked well as a team in being able to consider other points of view for each scenario and think about, not only one perspective but, alternative views on different ideas.”

The team admit that it can be hard to keep your emotions in check— depending on the topic. Alexandra says, “The thing I struggled with was when one team says you’ve said something you haven’t actually said. Then they go on to speak about how the thing you said was bad—but you didn’t say it in the first place.”

The St Peters team definitely want to take on the challenge again and want to do more ethical simulations to prepare. 

“I think for the most part it’s been really cool to see how our generation is looking towards ethics and the future and leadership,” says Alexandra, “these are the next leaders and they have great ideas and open minds.”

Congratulations to all who took part, the winners were as follows:

  • Gold Medal: Matthew Flinders Anglican College
  • Silver Medal: Palm Beach Currumbin SHS
  • Bronze Medal: All Saints Anglican College