A Valuable Asset
Most classical schools explicitly teach logic to their students and in so doing both students and teachers develop a deep appreciation for this oft-neglected field of study. At Classical School, seventh and eighth graders are given instruction in the areas of informal fallacies of logic.
Plato and Aristotle would most assuredly relish the idea that their 2400 year-old concept of logic still captivates our attention and is still considered a valuable asset to the well-educated mind. Then, undoubtedly, these great teachers and provocateurs would ask us, “Why?” What is so compelling about the age-old study of logic in the 21st century? Why should logic be venerated in what has become known as either the Information Age or the Technology Age?
Quantity of Information
The very quantity of information that is at our fingertips via 21st century technology certainly suggests the need for training in logical thinking. Logic is a way of thinking that acts as a key or guide. Once we learn how to think logically, we quickly recognize faulty arguments and are able to sift and winnow through a large quantity of information with much greater assurance.
Informal logic is concerned with arguments made during typical oral or written communication. Inductive reasoning is employed in these types of arguments. Inductive reasoning leads to strong or weak arguments that produce generalizations that are more or less probable.
As we begin to unravel the study of logic, we need to understand what constitutes a fallacy in logic. A logical fallacy is an error in logic – a place where someone has made a mistake in logical reasoning. We want students to begin their journey toward critical thinking by being able to spot bad reasoning, by putting a higher value on good reasoning, and by knowing how to avoid fallacies in their own reasoning. The more adept we become at identifying fallacies the more able we are to recognize when someone is avoiding the question, making assumptions, providing statistical fallacies, and espousing propaganda.
While not covered at Classical School, the study of formal logic is about pure reasoning in the abstract. It focuses on the form of the argument more than the content and is more deductive by nature. It leads to absolute certainty.
Premise 1: All B are W.
Premise 2: X is a B.
Conclusion: X is W.
Logical thinking produces rational students who critically think about the information that surrounds them. Our students will be better able to evaluate information and persuade others to their viewpoint. We want our students to follow conversational arguments, engage in logical discussion and have strong critical thinking skills throughout their lives – to be precisely logical in their ability to think through problems and discussions in a clear and concise way.