Thinking Allowed Essay Competition Winners Announced!

CandleConference_Logo'sThe judges have done their deliberating and are able to announce the winners in the 2013 Thinking Allowed essay competition, run in association with The Coexist Foundation and eudaemonia conferences.  

There was a greater volume of entries than we had anticipated, from every corner of the country and covering all six of the possible titles – though no-one took up the challenge of producing a video-entry!  The standard was high, with most entries achieving the level normally expected for a 2:1 in the first year of an undergraduate degree. The titles “Are we really free?” and “What is God?” proved the most popular but the standard of entries in relation to “What can we know?” and “Can I mean what I say?” was particularly high, with almost all these essays showing signs of higher-level-thinking.  

The judges decided to award the first prize jointly to Samuel Bodansky (The Grammar School at Leeds) and Agata Siuchninska (St Leonard’s-Mayfield School).  Each will receive £200 in Amazon vouchers (plus 10 student tickets to one of Candle Conferences’ UK events and up to £100 travel contribution for the school of their choice).  These were two very different essays, but each was outstanding in its way.  Samuel wrote on “What is God”, considering Exodus 34:6-7 and what it might tell us about the nature of the God of the Hebrew Scriptures.  Agata wrote on “Why is there something, not nothing?”, grappling with logic, the nature of time and possibility itself in the process of arguing that there has never been nothing!   Samuel and Agata and their parents or guardians will be invited to attend one of our “God Matters” events in November, as our guests, to be presented with their prizes.  

In addition, the judges decided to reward the winner of each category with an Amazon voucher for £50.  

What can we know?  Hugh Oxlade (Bancroft’s School)
Why is there something, not nothing?  William Warley (Dean Close School)
Should I follow my conscience?  Liam Rodgers (Outwood Post-16 Centre, Worksop)
What is God?  Susanna Hartland (Nonsuch High School for Girls)
Are we really free?  Madeleine Price (Beauchamp College)
Can I mean what I say?  Nicholas Buckner (St James’ Independent School for Boys)

Finally, the judges would like to commend the following entrants for their work which, although not prize-winning, showed immense promise.  

Rachel Grewcock, Joseph Hoyle, Cait O’Reilly, Haleh Taghinejadi, Jason Cobbe, Matthew Perry, Natasha Courtney, Kirstin Steveley.

The judges were looking for well-researched pieces of work, but ones which showed signs of original thinking and had a strongly developed argument throughout.  It is not easy to write like this and AS and A2 levels give few opportunities to develop the skills necessary, but this is what will be rewarded at University and beyond.  Candle Conferences are in the process of producing an essay-writing guide, to be given to every school at this year’s conferences, which will reproduce some of the winning entries in whole or in part.

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