Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Art of Argument

Logic. When I think of teaching my two older children that subject, I wanted to go hide under the bed and not come out. So when this product came up for review, I grudgingly accepted, not quite sure what I was getting into.

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And then I was pleasantly surprised. Because after reading through the first few chapters of The Art of Argument, doing some of the exercises with my children, and watching the accompanying DVD, I found that I actually liked logic, and better yet, we were all understanding it.

So what is logic? Logic is the formal study of correct reasoning. Or to put it another way, knowing logic helps you to be able to evaluate arguments. This book, from Classical Academic Press, is meant to be a year-long logic curriculum for 7th and 8th graders. 28 fallacies are divided into three categories: fallacies of irrelevance, fallacies of presumption, and fallacies of clarity. At the beginning of each lesson is the definition of that fallacy. Then the fallacy is described, with down-to-earth examples and simple definitions. One of the fun ways that the book shows the different fallacies is through an ongoing dialogue between the Greek philosopher Socrates and two modern day students. There are also phony advertisements that show the different fallacies. One of my favorites is in the lesson on the fallacy “Appeal to Pity”, which shows a full page store sale ad with these words: “If you don’t take advantage of this fantastic sale, we may just go out of business.” My daughter totally understood this fallacy when she read that. Each fallacy is also simply summarized at the end of each lesson for easy reference.

After each lesson there are workbook style questions for the student. These are more than just yes or no type questions; the student might be asked to evaluate different statements and identify the fallacy, or be asked to explain the difference between two different fallacies. There are also sections with questions about the definitions and thought questions for further research. And to keep all this new information fresh on the brain, there are cumulative reviews at the end of each chapter.

The accompanying DVD was also very helpful. Each section of the DVD is meant to be watched after each lesson. There are two teachers and four students present for each lesson; the teachers ask questions and encourage discussion between the students. They bring up excellent examples to show how these fallacies are used in many ways; from the media, to politics, to the normal things that happen in our lives every day. I found this to be especially helpful; my son is a visual learner, and watching the DVD helped him to really grasp the fallacy we were learning. The DVD set is priced at $54.95, and includes more that 8 hours of instruction.

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After doing a couple of lessons I found my children talking about a statement they heard on the radio, or even something one of them said, and how it was a fallacy or was related to one. The Art of Argument made fallacies come alive, and made them practical in day to day situations. The teacher manual and student workbook are very similar; the only difference being that the teachers’ book includes the answer key and reproducible quizzes. Both of these books are priced very reasonably; the student book is $21.95 and the teacher manual is $25.95.

So don’t be scared of logic; instead, see it as an important part of our lives; as a tool to help us discern what is right and what is wrong. And this is only the beginning, Classical Academic Press offers other logic books, The Discovery of Deduction, and The Argument Builder. And you can check out what others on The Crew are saying about this fun logic program here. 

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Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.

2 comments:

  1. Very neat! Thank you for, yet again, another great book suggestion. I'm excited about this one. Like you, I'd rather not raise a bunch of argumentative kids, just because. Anyone can argue about anything (fools are the best at this) but logic is a whole different game :)

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  2. So true Stef, about fools and logic! I don't know about you, but I never studied logic. And now I am really finding it quite interesting. And it is bringing up some great family discussions, especially with the election year.

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