Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: The Art of Argument

I don't know what the kids at your house are like but, for mine, arguing is as natural as breathing.  In fact, some days they partake in this method of communication as often as they breath.  For realz!  So one would wonder why I would even consider reviewing a product called The Art of Argument.  Seriously, that's the title.  What was I thinking, right?  But consider I did.  And, if I'm being honest, I might have employed a little shameless begging to get picked for the review.  Maybe.  Just a tad.

The Art of Argument: An Introduction to the Informal Fallacies is a logic program that is indeed designed to teach the student to argue.  Classical Academic Press strives to teach the student to think clearly and employ logic so that one may engage in a respectful manner.  I don't know about you but I would certainly prefer that type of an argument over the eye rolling, disrespectful toned, drama-filled kind that we currently endure.  Can I get an amen?

About The Art of Argument

From the publisher...

Junior high aged students will argue (and sometimes quarrel), but they won't argue well without good training. Young teens are also targeted by advertisers with a vengeance. From billboards to commercials to a walk down the mall, fallacious arguments are everywhere you look. The Art of Argument was designed to teach the argumentative adolescent how to reason with clarity, relevance and purpose at a time when he has a penchant for the "why" and "how". It is designed to equip and sharpen young minds as they live, play, and grow in this highly commercial culture. This course teaches students to recognize and identify twenty-eight informal fallacies, and the eye-catching text includes over sixty slick and clever, “phony advertisements” for items from blue jeans to pick-up trucks, which apply the fallacies to a myriad of real life situations.

Why study logic?  (Also from the publisher.)

Logic is a fascinating subject for students in middle school or high school. As a fundamental part of the trivium, logic study will impart to students the skills needed to craft accurate statements and identify the flawed arguments found so frequently in editorials, commercials, newspapers, journals and every other media. We regard the mastery of logic as a "paradigm" subject by which we evaluate, assess and learn other subjects--it is a sharp knife with which we can carve and shape all manner of wood. Mastery of logic is a requisite skill for mastering other subjects.

In today's society, everyone has an agenda. I most definitely would like my children to be able to recognize a faulty argument as well as communicate a sound point of view.  That is on my top ten list of most important skills to teach my children.

The workbook style text covers the 28 most common logical fallacies.  In other words, how to spot poor reasoning using dialogues, real-world applications, worksheets, phony advertisements, discussion, and more.  There's even a skit to perform at the end. And it's pretty, darned funny.  And there's even a dvd set available to help you and your student dig deeper.

Our Experience

My daughter was a tad on the young side for the program, which is geared towards middle school aged students, but I thought  that she could get something out of it.  And she did.

First off, she loved it. It was definitely one of her favorite parts of the day. The humor was fantastic and it really helped her to make connections with a topic that was a little above her.  She is able to spot the fallacies that she has studied for the most part.  She gets a thrill when she spots something on tv that contains a fallacy.  (Wait til the election really gets going, dear.  You'll get an ear full of Ad Hominem Abusive then.) She hasn't quite reached the point where she can apply them to herself but I wasn't really expecting that as a fifth grader.

The program is really fun, easy-to-understand, easy to use, and gives lots of examples.  And I'm getting smarter.  =o)  The only real complaint that I have is that several of the dialogues use topics that I feel are inappropriate for middle school aged children, specifically abortion.  I get that it is a topic that lends itself easily to various arguments but it just isn't something that I feel is appropriate for this age group. Certainly not for my fifth grader.  It is for this reason, much to Mackenzie's dismay, that I am shelving it for the time being.  I'm thinking maybe seventh grade.  (If I allow her to get that old.  I keep trying to convince her that she's only 6.  Unfortunately my arguments are filled with fallacies.)

That aside, I do love the program, and it is definitely on my list of things to use for middle school.  I already have the assignments planned and loaded onto my Homeschool Tracker.  My Pinterest board for middle school and high school contains many items from their logic series.  I can't wait to get back to it.


Prices:  Bundle (student text, teacher guide, DVD set) $88.95, Student Text $21.95, Teacher Guide, $24.95, DVD set, $54.95
Ages: Middle School
Check out the SAMPLE!

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

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