Monday, March 12, 2012

TOS Review: Art of Argument

I was thrilled to receive the Art of Argument Teacher and Student books from Classical Academic Press, and even more thrilled once I started using them.  My husband was also drooling over them, and I thought he might just take over that part of the homeschooling class, as this is the type of thing he loves and that he loves for the children to learn.  I also received a sample of the instructional DVD.

Since this is an election year, I have been talking to my kids about some of the issues, and I have been taking advantage of the charged atmosphere to teach my kids about debates, advertising, and thinking for themselves.  I want to teach them to look past the emotional draws, the biased statistics, and the artful smokescreens that are so prevalent not only in politics, but also in every advertisement that accosts us from the TV screen or the magazine pages, and to be able to find the facts at the heart of the matter and make an educated opinion.

The Art of Argument was exactly the text I was looking for!

The Art of Argument: An Introduction to the Informal Fallacies is a textbook and workbook combined, and it is an excellent introduction to debate, analyzing advertisements, and critical thinking for students from the seventh to the ninth grade.  That grade range is considered the "logic stage" in the classical trivium.  The text may also benefit high school students who have not been exposed to logic before.  While I am using it chiefly with my eighth grade child, I am including my younger children in the discussions.  I think they benefit from it even if they do not understand everything, and I like having several students involved in logic and debate discussions to bounce questions and ideas off of each other.

The book discusses the main questions of:
--What is the issue at hand?
--Relevance - Is the argument relevant to the issue at hand?
--Presumption - Is the argument assuming something illegitimate?
--Clarity - Is the argument clear?

Through clear explanations and a variety of interest-holding tools such as cartoon drawings, sample advertisements, and dialogues with the imaginary present-day Socrates, the children learn about logic and common fallacies in arguments.  They learn how to guard against being tricked by appeals to emotion and how to watch for red herrings.  They learn to argue well and to not be tricked by those who are not arguing well.  Vocabulary words that may be new to the students are written in bold letters and are defined in the glossary in the back.

The accompanying DVD contains two adults and several students discussing several of the fallacies.  The bundle, containing the student and teacher books as well as the DVD, gives you everything you need to accommodate students with different types of learning.

The Art of Argument is one of my must-haves for middle school students among the homeschool items I have reviewed.  Whether you do unit studies and would like to use this for one, or whether you use a standard curriculum throughout the year and could use this to supplement your other subjects, if you have middle school students, you need to work through The Art of Argument with them.  I have not found a better logic text.

You can find more information and purchase The Art of Argument at the website for Classical Academic Press.  The bundle is $88.95, or you may purchase the parts separately.  This is more than I generally have budgeted to purchase one supplement, but it is well worth it.

Also check out CAP on Facebook at, and the
Student Support Site at

Some of my fellow TOS Reviewers reviewed this product, and some reviewed The Argument Builder from CAP.  See what they thought of both products at

Disclaimer:  I received the above products free from Classical Academic Press for the purpose of a fair review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

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