The Art of Argument: Learning Logical Fallicies

by Jimmie Lanley on May 23, 2013

ART OF ARGUMENT curriculum review

This post does contain Amazon affiliate links, but I don’t have any special relationship with Classical Academic Press other than being a happy customer.

I’m a sucker for elective courses that are important but don’t fit neatly into a label of history or language arts. The Art of Argument is a perfect example. Logical fallacies? What kind of thing is that to study?

My husband loves philosophy, and we  have heard him talk about straw man arguments, ad hominem attacks, and equivocation. After going through The Art of Argument, now we know exactly what those mean!

I bought The Art of Argument (student book and teacher’s guide) by Classical Academic Press at the Great Homeschool Convention in Memphis in 2012. We used it this last semester of eighth grade as a study in logical argumentation.

About Art of Argument Curriculum

The teacher’s guide has all the answers to the discussion questions, chapter reviews, and cumulative reviews. The front and back inside covers have handy lists of all the different fallacies covered in the course. That chart was invaluable to us as we did the chapter reviews, and I loved that both teacher’s guide and student book had that same chart.

These fallacies have fancy names (often in Latin), and having a concise reference helped us to learn the distinctions between very similar types of arguments.

A huge plus of the book is the ample use of examples of the fallacies. Not only are there text examples that are fully explained, but there are also contrived advertisements, often very humorous or ridiculous, which drive home the points. With the combination of my reading aloud and the visual aids, this curriculum was a good fit for Emma’s learning style. And I have to admit, I really enjoyed learning the technical names of arguments that intuitively seemed wrong to me.

I didn’t make it a formal study with lots of writing. We typically did the exercises aloud instead of writing them down. I wanted the material to be more of a life skill course than an academic one. That may seem ironic since the logical fallacies suit a rigorous classical educator. But on my part, I see the fallacies as practical life skills.

The book is a bit wordy. Sometimes I simplified the explanations to state more concisely what the authors rambled around to say. I guess I prefer a more direct style of communication. In my opinion, the authors sometimes used too much repetition and too many words to get their points across.

The Art of Argument as Life Skills

1. Christian apologetics

Defending the faith will probably be a large part of Emma’s future, so understanding how to argue with precision and logic will be an important ability. (Note that argue does not mean quarrel but to convincingly state a position. You could also use the synonyms discuss or debate.)

2. Understanding marketing, advertising, and political campaigns

With so much propaganda surrounding us online, on television, and in print, it is critical that we recognize how we may be duped or misled by faulty arguments. One of the highlights of this course was hearing Emma identify fallacies from other places — conversations at church, television commercials, at The Creation Museum, and in books.

We did a study of advertising in sixth grade, but The Art of Argument takes those basic ideas to a much deeper level. Eighth grade is a perfect time for such a study as she has the maturity and experience to understand the examples in the book and then identify them in real life.

3. Communication skills

Knowing the right and wrong ways to argue can only help Emma’s overall communication skills. This is one of her strengths already, and The Art of Argument made her an stronger communicator by labeling logical arguments.

 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn May 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Hi Jimmie. Great post! Have you used The Fallacy Detective? We are just finishing up that book for my son (7th grade) and wonder if The Art of Argument would be a good next book. Thanks so much!

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christine Guest May 23, 2013 at 2:27 pm

And you can always read this one out loud for fun too: http://www1.asknlearn.com/ri_Ilearning/English/631/elang-ilearning/page3a.htm

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Joni May 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Definitely going to keep this in mind for jr high as we’re heading into that territory next year!

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Sandwich in Wi June 5, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Thank you for your review! This is on tap for my rising 10th grader next year, along with the sequel (the name is escaping me at the moment, Argument Builder, maybe?). We also are planning to use just the student and teacher books. I’m correct from reading your post that you did not buy the accompanying video set?

Blessings,
Sandwich

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Michal more August 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm

could you share with us your plans for highschool.We are still not ready for ninth grade and we start in two weeks. We are just looking and we have enjoyed all your post in the past years .Thank you! God bless you

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Heidi October 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm

We are using the Art of Argument right now with my freshman. I had to chuckle when you stated that the book is a bit wordy! We are feeling the same way. We are only into our second week and she has been working independently but I think she may need me to be doing it along side her to really get anything out of it.

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