Since July 2013, our research team has been working on a project that aims at re-introducing rhetorical exercises in Belgian secondary (high) schools and at studying their effects on the pupils. Our hypothesis is that the regular practice of rhetorical exercises, inspired by those practised in Antiquity, could stimulate skills like open-mindedness, flexibility, creativity, empathy, tolerance, and proudness, in a multicultural context. The experimental course is based on the principle of the “dissoi logoi” (twofold arguments), an exercise probably invented by the first Sophists, in order to suspend personal opinion during the exercise and to focus on technique and performance. The results of the experiments are very encouraging. After a couple of lessons the pupils were able to apply rhetorical notions in their compositions; they developed richer argumentations, by taking other points of view into account, and skills that, according to the teachers, improve their everyday life at school.
Key words: Rhetoric, practical reason, education, writing, citizenship.
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