Friday, March 16, 2012

TOS Crew: Art of Argument

It's a well-known fact among parents (at least, the parents I know) that children love to debate (also known as arguing) beginning somewhere around the age of 12, give or take a few years. It also should be a well-known fact that there are a lot of people out there who don't know how to think logically, much less present a well-reasoned argument, and yet they are trying to sway you (and me, and our children) to think or behave a certain way. Consider political campaigns, and radio or television commercials that leave you feeling as if you just need to buy some specific product. Wouldn't you like your children to be able to see through faulty arguments, to see the manipulation behind the message, to be able to think for themselves and clearly consider the issues?

Classical Academic Press offers a course for middle- and high-school students, The Art of Argument, that teaches 28 logical fallacies. It doesn't so much teach you to argue as to recognize the flaws in someone else's argument, yet that's an important starting place in the art of debate.

The workbook is written to the student, in an engaging, conversational style. The book begins with an introduction to logic, followed by a discussion of each of the 28 fallacies presented in the course. Concepts are illustrated through dialogue between "Socrates" and some modern-day students, and made-up examples (advertisements, for example, that resemble what you see today in the popular media). See a sample chapter here.

The teacher's edition provides an answer key with pages from the student workbook that have the answers to questions filled in. See a sample chapter here.

Though some students might be able to handle the material independently (like our 15yo, who read through The Fallacy Detective for fun when she was about 10), others will need parental involvement and interaction to grasp the concepts. A DVD set is available, something of a classroom setting, where a teacher explains concepts and discusses the material with students. This DVD set can help give the illusion of discussing the topics with other students, as well as provide for hearing an explanation from a teacher instead of just reading it in a book.

Pricing and availability

The Art of Argument is available at the Classical Academic Press website.

The student workbook is $21.95, the teacher's edition is $24.95 (both softcover), and the DVD set is $54.95. You can also buy a bundle package with all of the above for $88.95.

It's a good investment. Pretty soon, if your students are like mine, they'll be naming fallacies as they run across them. (Political advertisement: "Ad hominum abusive!")

Read more TOS Crew reviews of product at this link.

Disclaimer: Our family received The Art of Argument for review purposes. No additional compensation was involved.

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