Winning Words: Thinking, Speaking, and Acting Philosophically

The Winning Words program is a unique after-school class in philosophy, reasoning, and the verbal arts of dialogue and rhetoric.  We work with local middle and elementary school students, teaching them about philosophy, the influence it has had on human life, and the virtues and skills that attend its practice. These include debate, writing, and Socratic dialogue. Such modes of thought and communication will foster the sense of wonder that is at the root of serious introspection, intellectual growth, and ethical reflection.  Class begins with a portrait of Socrates attained through readings of Platonic dialogues. From reading and discussing these sources, students learn the ancient rudiments of the examined or philosophical life. Our curriculum keeps ever in the students’ minds, though, the ideas put forth by the famous American philosopher and founding figure at the University of Chicago, John Dewey— That learning is best done by way of doing and that schoolhouse and society are both best served when they are not isolated from one another.

In  Winning Words classes, younger students in local public schools are given the opportunity to learn from  successful, enthusiastic, and civic-minded students at the University of Chicago. The younger students make occasional trips to campus to hold class, and, about once per quarter, to present their thoughts in the public forum.

Please help us spread the word about Winning Words!  We welcome your participation!

If you are interested in bringing the Winning Words program to one of our South Side schools, please contact the Director of the Civic Knowledge Project, Bart Schultz, at 773/834-3929 ext. 1, or

If you are a University of Chicago student interested in working in the Winning Words program, please contact the Student Coordinator, Shayan Karbassi (

About rschultz

Director of the Civic Knowledge Project and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Chicago
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