One spring before I began tutoring high school students in our local Classical Conversations homeschool program, I sat in on another tutor’s class to observe for a day. Latin, British literature, art and music history, logic, biology — the discussions fascinated me as I imagined someday guiding my own students in their study of these subjects.

But the most memorable lesson came during debate when the tutor challenged the class — and subsequently, me — to think about what it means to be winsome. I’m sure I sneaked a peek at the dictionary app on my phone as I analyzed this word that was unfamiliar to me at the time and which the tutor had stressed when she mentioned being “above winning” as the primary objective of the debate. defines winsome as sweetly or innocently charming; winning; engaging. I’ve never forgotten the lesson shared by the other tutor or the power of this word over the past eleven years as I’ve guided classes of tenth graders.

Often, my students don’t know whether they’ll need to argue to defend the affirmative or negative side of an issue until the day of the debate. It forces them to be fully prepared, to research until they understand both sides of the issue, and to be able to defend either one. This is a skill which serves them well not only in debate, but also in life. 

Although they may not agree with the position they’re ultimately asked to support, they know it inside out, both pros and cons. It’s their job to come to class prepared to affirm or reject either side. Can you imagine how that level of understanding could benefit us day-to-day with people whose opinions differ from our own?

Please join me today at (in)courage as we explore the power of being winsome!

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