UNESCO World Philosophy Day, November 15th 2018
Baltic Sea Philosophy Essay Event
The Finnish UNESCO ASPnet, the Finnish Association of Philosophy and Ethics Teachers (Feto), and Societas Philosophica Fennica with the help of the Norwegian High School Philosophical Association organize a philosophical essay event for upper secondary school students. Even if the name of the event is the Baltic Sea Philosophy Essay Event it is open to young philosophers from any country.
In Finland the essay event also functions as a selection for the International Philosophy Olympiad in 2019. Norway uses it to similar purposes.
The schools that wish to participate in the essay event should order the topics for the essays from Feto by October 12th by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Schools will receive the topics by October 14th (in Norway contact Thor Steinar Grødal for country specific arrangements).
The deadline for the papers is October 26th 2018. The papers should be prompt and concise, approximately one or two pages long, and they should be written in English. Unfortunately, native English speakers cannot participate.
In assessing the essays, the assessors do not expect that the student to know the philosophical works of the author on whose citation s/he is writing. Neither should they expect that s/he knows the larger context of the citation.
All that is expected of the student, as far as the citation is concerned, is that s/he can provide a coherent and philosophically meaningful interpretation of the citation. That is, (a) to identify a philosophically meaningful question that is in accordance with the whole citation and (b) to identify an associated claim (or an idea) that is been presented and then discussed.
Participating schools must
- send no more than 2 best papers
- provide 1–2 teachers for evaluation work from October 26th to November 7th (the deadline for the first round of evaluations is November 2nd and the deadline for the second round is November 7th)
- follow the dates and instructions carefully
The interested schools register by requesting the topics via e-mail by October 12th. The essay topics will be sent to the schools by October 14th.
The participating schools will arrange a monitored two-hour event in which the students will write their essays. Students can use general dictionaries, but not philosophical encyclopedias. The schools should select at maximum two best papers. The papers should be sent by e-mail to email@example.com. The deadline for the papers is October 26th 2018.
After being coded by the organizers, the essays are sent for assessment to the teachers of the participating schools. Of course, no teacher can mark an essay written by his or her own students. The identity of the contestants is finally revealed only at the end of the assessment work.
All essays receive two readings by teachers of participating schools during the first reading of the essays. If there are great disparities in marking a particular essay, a third reader reads such an essay. If the point average the essay received is sufficiently high, the essay is given minimum two extra readings in the second reading. This second round of readings filters the potential medal essays for the organizing committee. While confirming the results, it also decides the number of the medal essays and the number of essays to be awarded honorary mention.
After the final assessment and confirmation of its results, the leading essays are sent to the former Chancellor of Helsinki University, professor emeritus Ilkka Niiniluoto, for final decision regarding the medals.
Diplomas will be awarded to the most illuminating papers. The names of the awarded participants will be announced on November 15th, and the best essays will be published on the Internet. Therefore we are also asking the participants for permission to publish their essays.
Criteria of evaluation
Even if assessment and evaluation of philosophical merits of essays is always demanding and problematic, and despite the familiarity of teachers with other marking systems of philosophical essays, the organizing committee gives the following advice for teachers in their assessment of BSPEE essays:
- relevance to the topic (max 2 points)
- philosophical understanding of the topic (max 2 points)
- originality (max 2 points)
- persuasive power of argumentation (max 2 points)
- and coherence (max 2 points)
Total maximum 10 points.
The grade boundary to enter the second round is 7,5. When the difference in grading is more than 3 points, the essay is read by a third assessor. If the average is more than 7,5 points including the assessment of the third reader, the essay goes to the second round.
BSPEE 2018 Ukri Pulliainen, Ilmari Hirvonen and Katri Hämeenniemi