Friday, March 16, 2012

Art of Argument; Classical Academic Press TOS Crew Review 2012

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Middle School has proven to bring many opportunities to my boys. Having the opportunity to homeschool my boys through this time in their lives is rewarding and also challenging. I am always looking for curriculum to challenge them and recently was given another TOS Crew opportunity from Classical Academic Press to review their curriculum, Art of Argument. This curriculum of Logic is geared to middle school kids and early high school students, from grades 7-9 or an older child if they have no prior Logic education.
Here is what Classical Academic Press has to say about their Logic curriculum, Art of Argument...

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.

This text comes in a workbook format with clear explanations and many updated illustrations and examples to insure understanding and mastery. The text aims at the practical application of the informal fallacies through an analysis of current social, commercial and political issues, which are discussed and evaluated. This practical application should insure that students continue to evaluate arguments, detect fallacies and reason well long after the course is completed.

Students master 28 fallacies (such as begging the question, the straw man, ad hominen, et al) by studying many pertinent examples. The text features a variety of:



•Real-World Applications

•Phony Advertisements

•Dialectic Discussion Questions


•Fun extras such as a humorous skit for students to perform, and the famous short story, Love is a Fallacy by Max Shulman

The Art of Argument has been revised to include:

•Improved chapter and unit organization for greater ease of use

•Fallacy explanations rewritten for clarity

•Many added and updated examples

•Ten new and revised advertisement illustrations

Parents and teachers beware--students may use these skills against you!

The Art of Argument Teacher's Edition and The Art of Argument DVD Set are also available. The greatly expanded Art of Argument Teacher’s Edition now includes the entire student text, answers to all exercises, and new chapter and unit tests. The DVD Set features three experienced logic teachers and four capable, enthusiastic students discussing the 28 fallacies with contemplation and humor. Each discussion seeks to make a practical application of the fallacy to student life, advertisements, political speech, and various kinds of ethical and philosophical debates.

   Having a house full of teenage boys there is always a debate going on about some topic or another, and more often than not it gets particularly heated as the boys do not truly know how to explain their thoughts and logic in a productive and thought out manner. Having one teenager in public school (never truly homeschooled except what we work on after school hours) and 2 middle schoolers that have been homeschooled for the last few years creates a whole other set of challenges. Many discussions at our dinner table could be a scene right from a debate forum, some even make me rather antsy to just table them before someone's feelings get hurt.

   While using the Art of Argument curriculum I have seen huge gains in my boys 7th and 8th grade as they have been learning how to truly get their point across in an articulated conversation and have been gaining tools to support their argument and stand up for themselves. They now use valid points to back themselves up and they think their arguments out thoroughly before just blurting things out when opposing each other.

  My boys have Asperger's Syndrome and do not always know how to express their feelings and thoughts even in regular conversations, especially with those they are not too familiar with. I have seen an increase in their confidence in everything they do as they continue to study the Art of Argument Student Workbooks. I know they have noticed too, they recently asked me to order the remaining DVDs that go along with the book, we received the first one with our review materials. They are truly enjoying learning Logic and want to continue, I think this is wonderful. I can see this as such a useful tool as they grow older and move into high school subjects. This can be quite useful when even writing essays and other topic papers. I am considering adding a small debate class into our schedule for next year. Having them pick a side of a subject and run with it. The possibilities are truly endless.

  Along with our Student Workbook of Art of Argument which retails for $21.95 and is the first in a series, we also received the Teacher's Edition which is $24.95. You can see a sample lesson of the student workbook Here and one of the Teacher's Edition Here. Included with our two books was the first of the DVDs that include video lessons that demonstrate the Art of Argument using 3 experienced Logic teachers and 4 enthusiastic students. The series of 5 DVDs sell for $54.95

The Art of Argument DVD Set contains:

•5 DVDs containing a total of more than 8 hours of video

•28 videos—one for each fallacy contained in The Art of Argument text

•Fun outtakes, extras, and “logical” humor

Click here for a video sample of one of the DVDs

After finishing Art of Argument you can move on to the follow up books in the logic series from Classical Academic Press with The Argument Builder and there is also The Discovery of Deduction for children 9th grade and up.
 Please be sure to follow the linkys from our TOS Crew Blog and see what my fellow crew mates had to say about their experience with Art of Argument.
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