Teaching for Wisdom
Developing Character in the Classroom

  • Are you interested in education and how kids learn?
  • Have you considered how wisdom is taught in schools and its implications for human flourishing?
  • Do you want to know more about the key elements of practical wisdom and how they can be applied to your life?

Teaching for Wisdom (TFW) is a yearlong, certificate-granting program that aims to help a select group of graduate and undergraduate students grow into wiser persons, educators, and educational leaders. Members selected to the 25-person cohort will take part in seminars, lectures, workshops, and experiential activities that incorporate instruction, application, and reflection. Participants will have the unique opportunity to engage an interdisciplinary group of scholars engaged in wisdom research and leading exemplar educators employing strategies for wisdom development in the classroom. The program will focus on:

  • the nature and components of practical wisdom and their contribution to flourishing,
    • epistemic humility
    • perspective-taking and self-awareness
    • self-control and grit
  • strategies for fostering wisdom in the classroom

Selected participants will also work in community-based education or youth development settings and be encouraged to examine how theory meets praxis in myriad ways. Finally, students will complete curriculum-aligned prompts to ponder these concepts and collectively reflect on the challenges to developing practical wisdom and implementing it in the classroom.

If want to join an exclusive cohort of curious students interested in discussing how wisdom and character development can influence your personal trajectory and the lives of kids, apply today!

*This program is developed and delivered in collaboration with UChicago Careers in Education Professions.

Application Info:

  • Criteria: All University of Chicago students are eligible to apply.
  • Application: To apply, please complete the form here.
  • Deadline: Oct. 13th, 2019

For any questions, please contact Zack Loveless.

Schedule of Meetings


Keynote Seminar:

  • Speaker: Howard Nusbaum, University of Chicago
  • Title: Wisdom and Teaching
  • Date/Time: Oct. 26th, 2019, 10am-3pm
  • Description: People face different kinds of decisions and problems every day ranging from simple to complex and from personal to professional. For teachers, many of these challenges are particularly acute requiring an assessment along many dimensions simultaneously such as educational needs of students, the encouragement of cooperation, understanding and following rules, pedagogical needs, among many others. While we deliberate about the details of such situations and the choice we wish to make, we do not think much about the process by which we make these choices. In literature and throughout history, people have considered what it means to reason wisely as opposed to intelligently, rationally, or emotionally. Philosophy has long considered what it means to make wise decisions, as well. Only in recent years has psychological science begun to analyze wisdom into foundational capacities and knowledge rather than consider wisdom a monolithic talent.  Rather than treat wisdom as mythical or an idealization, psychological science is starting to consider this as a type of thinking that takes into account social values and impact, and depends on several fundamental psychological processes such as empathy, perspective taking, self-regulation, perseverance, and reflection.  In this seminar we will discuss different psychological theories of wisdom, how wise reasoning may be particularly critical in the face of moral and ethical challenges, research that is relevant to understanding wisdom, and consider how wise reasoning may increase with certain kinds of experiences.

Lecture/Discussion 1:

  • Speaker: Anne Henly, University of Chicago
  • Title: All the Knowledge We Cannot Know… and Why it is Critical to Teaching
  • Date/Time: Nov. 13th, 2019
  • Description: Much of the knowledge we have about the world, other people, and even ourselves is often unavailable in our conscious, everyday experience and yet it forms the foundation of how we think about and interact with the world. This creates a particular challenge for teaching, which requires not only knowledge of the subject matter, but an understanding of the learner and of ourselves as teachers. In this lecture, we will focus on how both conscious and nonconscious thought processes affect our understanding of self and other, of how we conceptualize situations, and how we frame problems. We will consider the need for epistemic humility in teaching, i.e., recognizing the limits of our knowledge and experience, and discuss the psychological capacities that underlie attaining it.


Lecture/Discussion 2:

  • Speaker: Candace Vogler
  • Title: Learning to be Good
  • Date/Time: Jan. 14th, 2019

Lecture/Discussion 3:

  • Speaker: Valerie Tiberius, University of Minnesota
  • Title: Wisdom, Perspective, and Well-Being
  • Date/Time: Jan 29th, 2019
  • Description: The advice to “get some perspective” is familiar.  If your priorities are totally backward, or you’ve gone down the rabbit hole of rumination on some relatively trivial problem, a friend might give this advice. Of course, the advice is not just to get any old perspective; something specific seems to be required. But what does it mean to get perspective? Should we try to take up the death-bed perspective and live each day as if it were our last? Should we take the perspective of “the universe” (whatever that means)?  Should we take the perspectives of our friends or loved ones? I don’t think that there is a single right But I do think that there are better and worse perspectives in different contexts. Knowing what perspective to take when and being able to shift your perspective is an important part of wisdom.  It’s also an important contributor to our well-being.

Lecture/Discussion 4:

  • Speaker: David Johnson, University of Chicago
  • Title: Teaching for Wisdom: The Role of Context, Choice, and Intentionality in Development
  • Date/Time: Feb. 18th, 5:30pm-7:30pm
  • Description: This session interrogates taken-for-granted ways of thinking about both wisdom and teaching in the context of our current system of public education. By focusing on not only what we commonly understand by ‘wisdom,’ but also on the potential alternative ways of thinking about about the term and its application in schools, this session invites us to (re)consider educators’ roles in school communities. How we think not only about what wisdom is and means, but also about the special roles that adults and young people might play in co-constructing an alternative vision of wisdom, opens up space for thinking in new ways about the potential of teaching as a radical act. By thinking carefully about how context, choice, and intentionality shape the experiences of children and adults within schools, this session will provide an opportunity to explore the possibility of co-constructing wiser, more inclusive, and fundamentally transformative spaces within schools for young people and adults alike.


Lecture/Discussion 5:

  • Speaker: Kay Fujiyoshi, University of Chicago
  • Title: Wisdom and Authenticity
  • Date: April 7th, 2020, 5:30pm-7:30pm

Keynote Seminar:

  • Speaker: Ted Richards, Chicago Wisdom Project
  • Title: Educating for Wisdom: Meaning, Space, and Process
  • Date/Time: April 25th, 2019

Closing Workshop

  • Leaders: Andy Tousignant, Zack Loveless
  • Date/Time: May 7th, 5:30pm-7:30pm