Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why Logic?

The Thinker, by Auguste Rodin

As part of our ongoing series of articles on Classical Education, today we want to discuss the topic of Logic, and why we consider it worthy of teaching at SLO Classical Academy. Our Associate Director Troy Wathen offers us these thoughts on the subject of Logic:
Logic in an age of illogical thinking—what’s the purpose? One only has to live through one election year to recognize how important an introduction to logic course is. The middle school students at SLOCA are taught how to recognize and name many of the logical fallacies committed by candidates who make outrageous claims, shallow promises, and personal attacks against their opponents. However, this ability to recognize fallacies is only the tip of the iceberg of value derived from four years of logic.
Students who take logic learn how arguments are formed, they play with the subtleties of language, and they are taught how to apply thinking with clarity and purpose. Recently the eighth graders discussed how immediate inferences can be made from individual statements, they learned how to restate propositions in three separate ways without changing the inherent meaning of the propositions, and they were also forced to name and use parts of speech to form cogent arguments. Furthermore, through the use of very precise language, students are exposed to many of the skills used by philosophers throughout the ages. These skills enable our students to comprehend, craft, and evaluate language in ways that challenge many adults today. If we hope that our young people are going to engage in significant intellectual inquiry, they must be equipped with the skills to understand what they read. Logic trains the mind in the skills of analysis necessary to engage with authors that most of us fear because individuals who are equipped with these skills have exercised pathways of thinking that are foreign to the modern mind.

To make this all a little more practical, consider just a few places logic is applied in today’s world. “A doctor must reason from the symptoms at hand, as must a car mechanic. Police detectives and forensic specialists must process clues logically and reason from them. Computer users must be familiar with the logical rules that machines are designed to follow. Business decisions are based on logical analysis of actualities and contingencies. A juror must be able to weigh evidence and follow the logic of an attorney prosecuting or defending a case…As a matter of fact, any problem-solving activity, or what educators today call critical thinking, involves pattern-seeking and conclusions arrived at through a logical path.” (Bennett, D. J. 2004: Logic Made Easy)
Thank you Troy, for these thoughtful and compelling reasons for learning Logic. Isn’t it exciting to know that our students are gaining these valuable critical thinking skills?

Let’s talk: Do you have a middle schooler who is learning Logic? How are they applying Logic to what they read, or to everyday life?

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