Monday, March 18, 2013

{Crew Review} Teaching Formal Logic with Discovery of Deduction {Review}

Blessed.  Blessed.  Blessed.

That is how I feel when we review products from Classical Academic Press.  Just a few weeks ago I published my review about Song School Spanish (which is still being used by Levi and he loves it and cannot wait to use Song School Latin next). 

This week it is Ben’s turn to try out Logic.  I love that in the classical model of education proposed by Dorothy Sayers  that she writes:
“It will, doubtless, be objected that to encourage young persons at the Pert [age to browbeat, correct, and argue with their elders will render them perfectly intolerable. My answer is that children of that age are intolerable anyhow; and that their natural argumentativeness may just as well be canalized to good purpose as allowed to run away into the sands.” (The Lost Tools of Learning)  
Rather than encouraging arguing in the popular sense, we might as well take a cue from the Greeks and teach logic reasoning/ argumentation.

I’ve heard it said that when your children start arguing with you, you are in the logic/ dialectic stage.  Lord have mercy, we are in this stage and will be here for a long, long time. 
The Discovery of Deduction: An Introduction to Formal Logic ($26.95) and The Discovery of Deduction Teacher's Edition ($29.95) are tools to teach logic. Formal logic that is. Informal logic deals with ordinary language arguments (we reviewed Classical Academic PressThe Art of Argument last year). Formal logic studies how arguments are put together, like this:
All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
As is explained in Chapter 1: “Formal logic less less concerned with the content of an argument….but very much concerned with the form of the argument – if the logical steps taken to get from “All men are mortal” to “Socrates is mortal” are valid or invalid.” (p. 1) Eventually you can turn formal logic propositions (statements) into symbolic statements (which can look like Venn diagrams) or categorical statements like:
If all B is A
and all C is B,
then all C is A.

OK, Alane, enough blabbing about what formal logic is.  What is this product?  This course is divided into four units. Within each unit, chapters break down the material into topics, and each chapter has 3-8 lessons in it.  Each lesson usually includes new material to read, definitions to know (there is a lot of terminology in formal logic to remember), and exercises for students to practice using these concepts in arguments.

One of the gifts, I think, that Classical Academic Press has given to students is the ability to dig into the practical application of deductive reasoning through literature, history and other applications.  These are called “Deduction in Action.” In one of the assignments, Ben was asked to read a specific Sherlock Holmes short story and then attempt to put Mr. Holmes statement into categorical form.  Exercises using Shakespeare, mini-research projects (of one paragraph), and other topics are used to help students think deductively about the world around us.  I so appreciate that Classical Academic Press has incorporated these links  to real-life learning and living.
How we used this program:  In my opinion, this is not a program that you will want to hand to your student and let him/her do independently.  I think that this is material that you will want to talk about with your student.  At least, that is how I see it best used in our house.  Unless you are very well versed in formal logic you will definitely want to purchase the teacher’s guide.  This way, you and your student can both have an opportunity to read through the material and discuss it.
 Discovery of Deduction Logic Curriculum
A Suggested Schedule is available (for free) from the Classical Academic Press website. It contains a suggested schedule for a semester long course (18 weeks) or a year long course (36 weeks). It includes room for quizzes and tests, but CAP notes these are not available at this time.

Ben ended up working through the beginning of this book three or so days a week.  I like that the chapters are divided up into lessons-sized chunks, and what we found ended up working for us was to set aside time together to read through the material together (there are some written dialogs between characters  that could be fun to read aloud together) and answer the questions aloud.  Since I feel like I am having to re-learn material that I learned over 20 years ago, this seems the most efficient use of my time.
As a matter of fact, working through the material aloud with Ben made me think that this would be great material to do with a small group of kids. The content of what we’ve gone through so far is definitely appropriate for students from 7th or 8th grade on up through high school.  On the Classical Academic Press website, it is recommended that you study informal logic first, however, this does stand alone.
If you would like to see samples, you can go to the Discovery of Deduction website for a teacher book sample and a student book sample.

My recommendations & thoughts: I really have enjoyed working through this program with Ben, and he found it to be challenging but good.  He commented that at first it was confusing, but found that the explanations and examples helped him to understand the new concepts.  I definitely think that teaching he art of reasoning is a hugely important skill to be teaching our children to help them navigate the media rich environment we live in and help equip them to recognize truth – and the Author of all Truth.

To read what other homeschool, blogging moms thought of Discovery of Deduction as well as Classical Academic Press’s Introduction to Poetry, please click on the banner below:


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