Chair's Report - Tristan Hill
I am very pleased to report that the Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools successfully planned and managed an impressive array of activities since our last General Meeting.
These activities were conceived and executed in order to promote the aims and purposes of our Association. Our activities over the past year involved the exploration of philosophical concepts through critical and reflective thought, the provision of high quality professional development opportunities for teachers and the encouragement of the Community of Inquiry methodology in classrooms.
I will summarise our notable achievements this year.
Our work establishing a full programme of Philosothons has now meant that we have Philosothons running at Primary level, a number of Philosothon events running for the Middle Years and our ever successful Victorian Secondary Schools Philosothon. I thank Janette for her excellent work in establishing and maintaining such a wonderful programme of events for the students of Victoria.
As the subject association supporting philosophy teachers across the state, VAPS hosted several VCE Network meetings on topics from the writing of SACs to preparing for the VCE Examination. We ran a very successful seminar for beginning teachers of VCE Philosophy. We organised two Forums with the generous support of The Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. Both were well attended and were very informative and enjoyable. For the first time, we invited the Chief Examiner for VCE Philosophy to discuss the VCE Philosophy examination and this session proved to be exceptionally valuable for the students in attendance.
VAPS worked to support regional students and teachers of philosophy to attend philosophy events, and we continue to reflect and establish events and practices which will help our regional and rural members.
Through our ongoing efforts to review our COI training methods, we have already established ourselves as a leader in P4C in Australia, and we continue to develop these methods to the highest standards.
The crowning achievement of our already impressive work last year was the VAPS Conference. There were around 2-dozen workshops and seminars offered with approximately 84 attendees across two days in the north of the city. The Conference attracted some excellent speakers on a range of topics which sought to improve the philosophical capacity of students across the state. What was most enjoyable, perhaps, was the opportunity for those collegial conversations with like-minded teachers. I for one thoroughly enjoyed the event and was pleased to hear this sentiment echoed by numerous attendees who commented positively on the variety of panels and the practical advice they had received which would have, I am sure, enriched their teaching and their students’ learning.
Lucas McGauran, has served as our secretary and was the conference convenor. He is to be commended for his excellent organisation for our Association and for his ability to craft such an interesting programme at the Conference. I am grateful for his enthusiasm and energy on the days of the Conference itself. Without a doubt, it was his gentle humour and careful leadership which steered this event to success. Lucas, thank you.
So, we have much to be proud. And now, we can cast our ambitions forward: What will we strive to achieve next? We are emboldened by an understanding that what we represent as an Association is
a commitment to help, to improve and to be even better. And we look to a new crop of Committee members – our most exciting opportunity, to be sure.
I take this opportunity to thank all members of the Committee for their work over the last year. Your considered advice, your willingness to pitch in and your enthusiasm for our cause has been well appreciated by our members. Thank you.
Janette Poulton, our Education and Innovations Officer, has once again spear-headed our success this year. She is indefatigable, and her tireless enthusiasm for the good work of VAPS is the backbone of our success.
I thank, especially, the Executive of the Committee.
Ben Kilby has been exemplary in his work as Treasurer this year. His attention to detail in his job has been immense and I am most grateful. Ben has also completed a lot of work this year on the VAPS Newsletter. He reformatted the document to make it more appealing and engage our membership directly, keeping the community involved in our events and current news. Thank you, Ben.
I thank Harry Galatis who has served as Deputy-Chair. His wise counsel and calm demeanour as the peace-maker of our little band has been integral to our success this past year, for sure. Thank you, Harry.
Bonnie Zuidland, as our Chair, proved once again that she is one of the most hardworking and dedicated members of our Committee. Bonnie resigned as the Chair earlier this year with the happy news that she and her partner, Johnny, were expecting their first child. Bonnie is an acknowledged master teacher. Just ask my wife who attended one of Bonnie’s workshops at the 2016 Conference and has been raving about it ever since! She is a leader and role model for many, me included. I am proud and humbled to consider her a friend, too. I am sure you will all join me in thanking her for her many years of camaraderie, her enthusiasm for the work of VAPS and her unwavering dedication to Philosophy for Children in Victoria. Bonnie, thank you.
I said something of the same as what I am about to say this time last year, but I will not continue in the position of Chair of the Association after this meeting. Indeed, I will be retiring from the Committee in full.
Instead, I look forward to spending more time with my family and especially my two baby daughters, Lily, born October 2017 and Isabella born just last month. For all the many very happy memories of our time together, at Conferences, at Philosothons, Forums and meetings, I want to say simply: thank you.
My colleagues, fellow members, our work as an Association continues, but we can all be proud of our accomplishments over the last year