Monday, March 12, 2012

The Art of Argument

We've recently been given the opportunity to review The Art of Argument by Classical Academic Press, an introduction to the informal fallacies written for junior high students. Learning the informal fallacies in our culture (not to mention an election year!) is a valuable skill all students ought to learn.


A description from the website:
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 DVD Set, a DVD video series featuring three experienced logic teachers and four capable, enthusiastic students discussing the 28 fallacies presented in The Art of Argument. This video series will be a valuable resource for every student using The Art of Argument.

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
View a sample chapter from the book and a sample of the Teacher's manual. THEN
Watch a sample video from the series of the straw man fallacy.

We are not really big fans of the videos but you can be the judge of what you think by watching the sample I posted above. That being said I think it's nice to see them discussing each of the fallacies and would help students that prefer a video to reading the book (though you need the book too). The Teacher's book contains the student text with answers to all of the exercises, and has the tests and answer keys.  I would say that you need the Teacher's edition in order to teach this properly (unless you are an expert on fallacies) but there would also be value in just reading through the student text together.

I would recommend this course for anyone wishing to teach informal fallacies and logical argument to their students. This is recommended for junior high students but you can easily use this with older students which is what I did.

You can purchase  The Art of Argument Basic Bundle for $88.95. This includes the student book ($21.95), teacher's edition ($24.95) and full DVD set ($54.95).   Visit Classical Academic Press for other classical subject curriculum including Latin, French and other languages, Bible, poetry and more.


See what others are saying about The Art of Argument on the TOS crew blog.

disclaimer: I received The Art of Argument book and first DVD in exchange for an honest review.

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