When you think of studying logic, what comes to mind? Often, logic is one of those subjects — perhaps along with Latin and philosophy — that many associate with an outdated model of education or, if studied today, maybe even with a hint of pretension. As a homeschooling family, is it really necessary for your child to learn logic?
We believe the answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” In this post, we’ll cover the many benefits of learning logic — from developing critical thinking and decision-making skills to building good character — as well as several pieces of advice for teaching your student logic in your home school.
Formal vs. Informal Logic
Formal logic has been called ‘math with words.’” – Leigh Bortins, The Question
Before diving into three learning outcomes that answer why we should study logic, it’s important to make a quick note on the term logic used in this post. Generally, the study of logic is categorized into informal and formal logic. The type of logic we encourage families to study is formal logic — often referred to as traditional logic — which deals with forms of reasoning. As Classical Conversations founder, Leigh Bortins, describes in her book The Question, “Formal logic has been called ‘math with words.’”
Why Study Logic? 3 Learning Outcomes of Formal Logic
Logic studies enable us to experience the world in richer, more meaningful ways; in short, logic studies make us free.” – Leigh Bortins, The Question
Studying logic is something everybody should do. This includes both homeschool students and parents. In short, there are three reasons why we should learn logic: it encourages clear thinking, empowers us to be truly in the image of God, and builds good character.
1. Studying Logic Develops Critical Thinking Skills
Studying logic involves learning the skills of critical thinking. As you and your student analyze sound reasoning through studying arguments, syllogisms, and fallacies, you’ll develop a sort of “truth compass.” In other words, you’ll be able to apply these reasoning skills to recognize truth from falsehood, whether that’s in an advertisement, a political campaign, a persuasive speech, a news article, or a social media post.
These same critical thinking skills practiced in logic can also be applied to sound decision-making, a skill every parent wants their child to develop. Finally, it’s important to study logic to become an effective communicator. After all, logic is also the backbone necessary for crafting compelling arguments in speech and writing that point others toward truth.
2. Studying Logic Empowers Us to be Truly in the Image of God
As Christians, the God we worship is a God of form. Just look in Genesis, Chapter 1. The universe God created is the ultimate example of order, structure, and form.
Similarly, we too create forms, from math and science formulas to sentence forms to logical arguments. By using forms to indicate order from disorder and truth from uncertainty, we establish ourselves as made in the image of God.
3. Studying Logic Builds Good Character
For many parents and students, studying logic isn’t easy. Often, along with learning logic come times of frustration and befuddlement. Still, the goal of learning logic is to become better thinkers, which is a worthwhile end to strive toward no matter how strenuous the journey may become. Following through with your study of logic will empower you and your student with confidence in your abilities to learn something challenging and use critical thinking skills to make sound judgments and arrive at the truth in other areas of life.
How to Teach Logic: 3 Pieces of Advice for the Homeschool Parent
Logic trains the brain to think clearly about all subjects by ordering information into usable form. This is a skill we all need to acquire.” – Leigh Bortins, The Question
Convinced why your student should learn logic? Although the learning outcomes of studying logic are noble and inspiring, many parents struggle when it comes to actually teaching the subject. With its forms, structure, and objectivity, logic can appear intimidating. Hopefully, these three pieces of advice will help and encourage you to take on the worthy task of homeschooling your child in logic!
1. Stay Persistent!
Although this may not be what you want to hear, all difficult subjects — logic included — require persistence and hard work. Constantly remind yourself that the end goal of your student learning logic is to equip them with the skills to think critically. So, be persistent in teaching your student logic. In time, your student will learn to apply critical thinking skills to make good decisions and to detect truth from falsehood in everyday situations and encounters. It’s worth every difficult moment to see these fruits of your labor!
Times when homeschooling is hard are a natural part of this journey. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone. Find other homeschool parents whom you can rely on for support, guidance, and advice in teaching your child logic, whether in your Classical Conversations local community, a homeschool co-op, or elsewhere. Homeschooling in isolation is never a good idea!
2. Spend Time Learning the Basics of Logic
The road to becoming a skilled logician begins with an understanding of the grammar — or foundational knowledge — of the subject. Make sure to spend time with your student repeating the basics of logic over and over before moving on to complex problems and concepts.
What are these foundations of logic? Well, there are logic vocabulary terms and definitions to commit to memory, like argument, syllogism, conclusion, major premise, minor premise, and fallacy. In addition, you and your student should understand the principles of logic, or “how logic works.” That is, spend time studying the basic rules and procedures associated with clear thinking and reasoning.
Moving on to advanced exercises and ideas before establishing a firm foundation will only lead to discouragement with this subject. For instance, don’t feel guilty if you have to spend several more weeks studying the basics of logic. In the end, this actually might end up saving you time, not to mention a good deal of frustration!
3. Apply Logic to Other Subjects
One of the tenets of classical education is the idea that all subjects are interconnected. Thus, subjects shouldn’t be studied as if they are islands, unrelated to each other.
A great benefit of learning logic is that it trains students to think clearly in all subjects by helping them organize, make connections, and draw conclusions about all types of information. So, encourage your student to utilize what they are learning in their study of logic to understand why Hester Prynne made the decisions she did in The Scarlett Letter or what events motivated American colonialists to wage war against England in the American Revolution.
The truth is that the skills of logic are applicable to all areas of life, and not just if your student goes on to study math or computer science in college. From literature and art to history and science, logic can be used everywhere. Encouraging your student to use logical reasoning in their other subjects will show them that logic is useful and an important skill to master.
The Beauty of Learning Formal Logic
Sure, learning and teaching formal logic can be intimidating. But still, there’s something equally attractive about the study of logic. Arriving at objective truth, knowing that which can be known, making good decisions — these are beautiful goals that make the study of logic well worth the effort.
If you’re on the search for a homeschool logic curriculum, consider our Traditional Logic series designed to make homeschooling logic doable with daily practice exercises to help your student develop powerful critical thinking skills.
Not yet a Classical Conversations member and interested in our community-based approach to homeschooling? We’d love to hear from you. To learn more about us, click here.