Thursday, March 15, 2012

Art of Argument, Classical Academic Press

Have you ever heard (Or said) this line... "With all the arguing you do, you're sure to become a lawyer!"
Well, I think I can recall being on the "spoken to" side, and I've been tempted to use that line myself! That being said, the book "The Art of Argument" by Classical Academic Press ISN'T about the every day quarreling that might go on amongst siblings. It focuses on the ART of arguing~ the finer points of discussing a given topic with someone who may not agree with you, and the ability to point out where their argument fails, due to their lack of logic(This may not gain your children any friends, but it WILL increase their ability to think straight ;D ).

I experienced my fair share of this sort of argument when I was on a debate team in high school (Sometimes, my argument was with my partner~ sorry, Dan ;) ~ although we usually worked well together). We might have had an extra edge if we had the benefit of learning and recognizing the various fallacies that we might encounter.

The Art of Argument does just that~ it is a course the introduces the informal fallacies that we run into every day~ in the media, in advertising, amongst our fellow citizens, friends, and families. So... what exactly IS a fallacy? Here are some dictionary definitions for you~

fallacy |ˈfaləsē|
noun ( pl. -cies)
a mistaken belief, esp. one based on unsound argument : the notion that the camera never lies is a fallacy.
• Logic a failure in reasoning that renders an argument invalid.
• faulty reasoning; misleading or unsound argument : the potential for fallacy which lies behind the notion of self-esteem.

The Art of Argument introduces and discusses the 28 informal fallacies in 3 units that cover the fallacies of Irrelevance, Presumption, and Clarity in 28 chapters (One for each fallacy).  There are many examples given(Both written and visual/advertisements), and there is a bit of a "Socratic Dialogue" between, well... Socrates and a couple of college students, Nathan and Tiffany.

Here are my thoughts on The Art of Argument (Which, BTW, I was very pleased to be able to review, as I have been a big fan of other Classical Academic Press products)
  • Interesting text, that is livened up and/or interspersed with ads and visuals~ creative as I expected from Classical Academic Press
  • Methodical and organized in approach~ which makes it easier to remember
  • Uses real life examples, which could be considered either a pro OR a con, depending on the example, and your perspective. (More on that under cons) 
  • Visual examples of fallacious advertising~ These are probably one of the favorite features of this course~ If this course had relied entirely on this sort of example I would have been extremely pleased with the entire thing~ an excellent introduction for the young Jr. High age student.
  • Quick reference guide to the various fallacies on the inside front cover of the student text is a GREAT resource!
Cons~  (Just a note about my "cons" in any given review. They tend to be rather lengthy, not because I really dislike a given product, but because I'm trying to fairly explain WHAT it is that doesn't work for us~ sometimes that very reason is the reason why it WILL work for someone else... just thought you should know that)
  • The introductory chapter seemed to be somewhat repetitious and confusing~ as I was reading it to my Eldest and Middlest, I could kind of see their eyes glazing over~ A lot of good information there, but I think it could have been delivered a little more succinctly for the intended age. 
  • Now here is a "This doesn't work for my family that well, but it might for yours" point~ The Art of Argument tackles controversial moral and ethical subject matter(starting in the dialogue in the first chapter) that I personally don't include in my children's schooling just yet. I understand that there are a variety of perspectives on many controversial subjects, and how and when to approach them. My husband and I have determined to allow our children to be children, and maintain their innocence for as long as possible. They have their entire adult lives to deal with tougher moral/ethical issues. Personally, I would use this text for 10th-12 grade, as written, although 9th grade isn't unreasonable. Yes... we tend to be over-protective at times, and in a homeschool, where there are many ages of ears listening in on discussions, this can be a sensitive area.
With that being said, I can see using this curriculum more as a resource and reference as we discuss various fallacies in the course of our schooling, rather than as a full-blown course, until the kiddos are just a smidge older.

The Art of Argument
  • Student Text $21.95
  • Teacher's Edition $24.95 includes the entire student text, answers to all exercises, and new chapter and unit tests
  • DVD Set $54.95 features three experienced logic teachers and four students discussing the 28 fallacies(we watched a portion of a sample DVD, but because I was never sure where it was going in any given discussion, we didn't continue~)
  • Bundled set of all three $88.95 
Age recommendation~ Publisher ~7th grade +   Personal~ 9th or 10th + as written, younger with parental discretion

Classical Academic Press sent other Crew members The Argument Builder (The second book in their Logic series) to review. Please, be sure to visit the Crew Blog, and check out other reviews, as there are sure to be those whose experiences and opinions differ from mine.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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