When I was about thirteen, my parents announced that we were going to study logic. What thoughts flitted through my anti-intellectual mind I can't rightly remember, but I imagine they weren't good. Back then, my father had not yet taken on much of the responsibility for our schooling, so the burden fell on my mother's shoulders. If you don't know what it is to learn logic with a woman, how can I describe it to you. My mother had never studied logic, but as it fell out, we spent some of our most enjoyable hours learning logic together. What I didn't understand, she explained to me, and what she couldn't grasp, I helped her understand – the latter taking the greater balance of our time.
Together we learned about "if, then" statements and how to reduce an argument to its premises and conclusion. We argued over whether a statement really does have the same truth value as its contrapositive, and we found that the text book was right after all. Our favorite subject was logical fallacies such as circular reasoning, the straw man argument, and post hoc ergo propter hoc.
My parents wanted us to learn logic because their goal was to give us a Classical Liberal Arts Education, and because they desired to see us stand strong for the Christian faith. A child who can logically understand what he believes will hold fast to the truth and will defend it throughout his life. If we are able to clearly reason from the Bible, then we will be better equipped to give a proper defense of our faith. (I Peter 3:15) Also, the laws of logic, in one way or another, are fundamental to every academic discipline.
Back in those days, having these goals was all well and good, but putting them into practice was another matter. My parents didn't know how to go about learning logic themselves, least of all how to teach it to their children. My father had taken logic in college, but the teacher was bored with the basic principles of practical logic and wanted to start right off with the higher realms of modern symbolic logic. This did no good for my father's education in logic, and he dropped out of that class. At first, all the text books my parents found were written for a college classroom where a teacher who already knows logic can make the subject digestible to his students. We needed a self-teaching text.
Then my mother stumbled across two series of books published by Critical Thinking Books & Software: the Building Thinking Skills pre-logic workbooks and the Critical Thinking introductory logic texts. Since that time, we have found other texts which I will explain later. These two sets were what my mother used with us children. In recent years, my father has recognized more of a role to play in our education, and has been using other logic books to continue improving our reasoning skills – especially with us boys.
In teaching logic to us, my parents illustrated one of the "undeniable truths of Homeschooling:" that Homeschooling is for parents also. They needed to learn logic just as much as we did.
Once I overcame my initial dislike for using my brain, logic became my favorite subject. Even though exercising my mind is often painful, the reward is worth the effort. My study of logic continues through today with the research I have done for this booklet. I still enjoy learning more about good reasoning skills, and I hope this love for learning continues all of my life. It seems to me that I have received more benefit from learning good reasoning skills than from learning Algebra or Chemistry. Many of these subjects which I studied as a typical Homeschool high school student I might draw on once in a month, whereas logic is something I use every day.
Perhaps you can't envision setting aside the time to learn logic. Then consider the time you've spent learning other things which you've used very little. You will find that learning logical reasoning will be time well spent.
Copyright April 01, 2000, all rights reserved. 6446 views