Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All You Need is Logic

Many people worry if they can't homeschool their children. They are, rightfully, concerned about the ideologies inherent in the public school system as well as the quality of the education. Many people choose to do after schooling, having their children do extra work after school, on weekends, and during the summer. I personally think this can be tricky. The public school system works against the parent trying this. Children are already working too many hours with too few breaks; adding even more to already overloaded schedules may not be the best decision.

I say go for the subject that gets no attention at all in modern classrooms, the one that will provide some protection from those ideologies: Logic.

In 1984, one of the key elements in squashing dissent was simplifying the language so that people no longer had the words to disagree. Names are important. When people lack the names, instead of arguments, there are only niggling doubts which remain unvoiced all too often.

In The Lost Tools of Learning, Dorothy Sayers said:

For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects.

Studying logical fallacies gives children a measure of protection. When they know the names for bad arguments, instead of being frustrated about an argument that just doesn't seem right (or even worse, swayed by it), they will instead be able to name it, claim it, defeat it. The child who has studied logic is more likely to spot the emotional ploys that pass for arguments these days and mount a defense.

With the popularity of classical education, there are a number of logic texts on the market these days written for parents who were never taught logic themselves. We personally like the logic books from Classical Academic Press. These books sometimes have examples that are a bit over the top, but overall, they offer much knowledge for a relatively small investment of time.

It's hard to look at all of what we consider "education" and pick out bits to emphasize over others. I would that every child grew to adulthood in an atmosphere that encouraged the reading of quality literature and the ability to write well. But it's logic that helps children to interact with those ideas from literature, and logic that helps them to form those written arguments. It's logic that prevents them from being battered by those words, words, words.

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