Thursday 03 August 2023

Thriving Minds Conference

Students in Years 8 and 9 had the privilege of attending the Thriving Minds Junior Stretch and Challenge Day. This engaging conference was jointly hosted by Scotch College and Camberwell Grammar School, and featured Julie Arliss, a distinguished Oxford Scholar and Gifted Educator from the UK, as the lead facilitator. The primary objective of the event was to provide high-ability students from various schools across Melbourne with a unique platform to explore profound ideas through lectures and discussions with like-minded peers.

The day was structured into four sessions:

Session 1 – What Ought I to do?

During this thought-provoking session, students participated in a captivating thought experiment that combined elements from Bear Gryll’s “The Island” and William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.” Through this exploration, they examined the concept of fairness and goodness in rules. By delving into different philosophical ideologies, a checklist was developed to evaluate whether a rule was a good rule, considering aspects such as emotions (emotivism), tolerance, universality (Kantianism), consequences (utilitarianism), and Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics.

Session 2 – What is fair? 

Students engaged in ethical discussions within mixed-school groups, utilizing the Community of Inquiry framework to guide their reasoning and conclusions. The scenario presented and the guiding questions prompted them to discern the distinctions between equality and equity, and to ponder the essence of getting what you “need” versus getting what you “deserve.”

Session 3 – Nanotechnology

In this enlightening session, Dr Andrew Pinsent provided a comprehensive overview of nanotechnology’s history and presented the students with the latest advancements in the field. The session left the attendees well-informed and intrigued, especially as Dr Pinsent reminded them that their generation would be responsible for advances in this exciting area.

Session 4 – Debate: This house believes it is always right to tell the truth

A compelling debate took place during the final session, featuring presentations from Julie Arliss and Dr Andrew Pinsent, each advocating persuasively for their respective sides. Subsequently, students were invited to voice their perspectives, either supporting or opposing the motion.

As the conference concluded, the students departed with a palpable sense of enthusiasm, having gained fresh insights and new perspectives from this enlightening experience.

Student Reflections

Year 8

‘The full scale of the impact the excursion had on me was far, far beyond any preconceived notions I could possibly have had. Between the deep, open-ended questions and thought experiments posed to us by the educators, the analytical and optimistic look on nanotechnologies, and the many thought-provoking discussions, I can safely say I loved every part of it. The educators were a brilliant team of hard-working and passionate individuals who really made us think and see things from a different perspective’.

Jai – Year 8.

My favourite part was definitely the debate. I particularly enjoyed the well-thought-out and structured arguments from the lecturers, as well as hearing different students’ twists on the concept. Ultimately the day helped me to extend my learning and try something new. I would highly recommend this day to others if they are looking for something different and interesting to test their learning skills.” Charlotte – Year 8

I enjoyed the event and found it to be a valuable learning experience. Gaining new insights and perspectives can be incredibly enriching, and I’m glad I had the chance to do so at the conference. I was also able to meet new people and network with others at the conference. It’s always great to connect with like-minded individuals who share similar interests and goals. I left the event feeling inspired and motivated to continue pursuing my passions and learning new things.” Vanessa – Year 8

My favourite part was when I split off away from my school and got to interact with other students from other schools, where we talked about what fairness was and how to achieve it. It was interesting seeing everyone’s views and having a look at issues through a different perspective.’ Tilda – Year 8

Year 9 University Campus

The Thriving Minds conference was very uplifting and inspiring. We were made to stretch our minds, thinking outside the box. In the first half of the session, we discussed morality and making the right decisions. We were put with students from other schools to discuss issues in the current world and how we could relate them to ourselves. In the second half, we experienced a first-hand debate between the two guest speakers. Overall, I very much enjoyed this session, and I would definitely recommend it to future students as they would really be pushed to ponder about the truths of reality.’ Akitha – Year 9

I had a great time at the Thriving Minds conference. It was truly a privilege to engage in discussion with such esteemed academics. We learned about the ethics and morals behind the choices we make in our lives and the rules we decide to input in our society. We also learn immersed in the exciting world of Nanotechnology, where we learned how it could save the world across the medical field, and even in the Military. We are truly grateful for this experience and are proud to have these opportunities at Ivanhoe Grammar School!” Gus – Year 9

The Thriving Minds Conference was a very insightful experience. It was very influential and confronting on our opinions on the ethics and equality behind choices in everyday life. We were able to converse with students from other schools on what we thought was justifiable and morally grounded. We also were shown nanotechnology and the future of it in our lives. My favourite part however was the final debate where we witnessed the sides of the argument that lying is immoral. Personally, I am very grateful for this experience and would recommend it to extend your beliefs and mind.” Aiden – Year 9