Wednesday, October 20, 2010

LHP Review: Logic Resources

Nance, James B. Intermediate Logic for Christian and Home Schools (Second Edition, Revised and Expanded). Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2006. 209 Pages. Paper. $27.00. (LHP)

Nance, James B. Intermediate Logic for Christian and Home Schools-Answer Key (Second Edition, Revised and Expanded). Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2006. 103 Pages. Paper. $20.00. (LHP)
Nance, James B. Introductory Logic for Christian and Home Schools Test Booklet. Moscow, ID: Logos Press, 2006. 37 Pages. Paper. $10.00 (LHP)

Nance, James B. Introductory Logic for Christian and Home Schools DVD. Moscow, ID: Logos Press, 2006. 2 DVD set. $55.00. (LHP)

Nance, James B. Intermediate Logic for Christian and Home Schools Test Booklet. Moscow, ID: Logos Press, 2006. 34 Pages. Paper. DVD. $10.00 (LHP)

Nance, James B. Intermediate Logic for Christian and Home Schools DVD. Moscow, ID: Logos Press, 2006. DVD. $55.00. (LHP)

Martin Luther Grammar School educates young scholars in Sheridan, Wyoming from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. Our hope and prayer is to expand our student body, faculty, and facilities, with additional grades through high school. (Someday.) We have already begun examining future texts, including these from Logos Press and Canon Press. And, we are already putting them through their paces.
Once a week, some of our recent MLGS graduates, public school children, and home-schooled children in the congregation gather for Logic class. The materials listed above, along with the text for Introductory Logic (reviewed in QBR 3.4), are indispensable for helping the next generation learn to think by evaluating statements. Our goal is to teach people how to think, not merely what to think. In addition to the four young students, two adults have joined us to learn something I didn't get in my school years, either. 

So, how does one learn to teach something one was never taught?

Here are the tools! 

(Please note that Canon Press is the publisher for some and Logos School publishes some supplemental items. It's OK. They're friendly with one another. :) )

As mentioned before, we reviewed Introductory Logic a while back. The best practice I found is to finish the whole book before beginning to teach the first lesson. Even with the answer key, one needs to know this subject well to come up with classroom examples and correctly approve creative student answers.

I particularly appreciated the Logos Test booklet, as I had limited time to come up with my own exams. It served us well. 

I took a multiple-point approach to use of the accompanying Logos DVD for Introductory Logic. I watched it myself to know how to teach better, I loaned it to parents taking the class with their young people to help them reinforce the lesson, and I showed some segments to the class to review, amplify, and clarify my previous instruction.

Some time soon, we will be ready for the next step! 

Logic is the art of reasoning well—of learning to think God’s thoughts after Him. In this book, James Nance builds on the foundation of Introductory Logic for Christian and Home Schools to help students explore the more challenging terrain of formal, propositional logic.

First, students are introduced to propositional logic, logical operators, and truth tables, while reviewing and reapplying the concepts of validity, contradiction, consistency, and equivalence. Next they learn to construct formal proofs of validity by using basic rules to derive an argument’s conclusions from its premises. Finally, students discover how they can use the technique of “truth trees” to determine consistency, self-contradiction, tautology, equivalence, and validity.
This text, together with Introductory Logic by James Nance and Douglas Wilson, provides students with a rigorous course in logic that will help them excel in every other subject they will study, from math and science to rhetoric and the humanities. Extensively revised and updated, with additional review questions and exercises for each unit, this book is an essential part of every Christian school or home school curriculum. 27 lessons; consumable.

James B. Nance has taught at Logos School since 1990, where he currently teaches logic, rhetoric, calculus, physics, and Christian doctrine. He is also the co-author (with Douglas Wilson) of Introductory Logic for Christian and Home Schools. James and his wife Giselle have four children. (publisher's website)
We appreciate very much the move to revise both logic texts, especially the introductory material originally presented in volume 2 that was moved to volume 1. Now, Intermediate Logic solely focuses upon propositional logic, a branch of what is called formal logic.

The first lessons introduce new terminology and symbols that make perfect sense when taught, but may seem overwhelming if one skips to the back of the book without understanding them!

After that, Truth Tables dominate the book, as young scholars learn the concepts of validity, consistency, and equivalence, building on the foundation laid with informal logic and the categorical branch of formal logic in Introductory Logic.

Changes in the New Edition
Expanded, Corrected, Completely Redesigned Second Edition
Our popular Logic curriculum has been changed in a number of critical areas:

First, in order to present to the student a more logical progression of topics, the section on defining terms has been moved from Intermediate Logic to Introductory Logic, where it is taught along with other branches of informal logic and categorical logic.

Second, review questions and review exercises have been added to each unit for every lesson in the text, effectively doubling the number of exercises for students to verify their knowledge and develop their understanding of the material. Additionally, some especially challenging problems have been included in the review exercises.

Third, the definitions of important terms, key points made, and caution signs regarding common errors are now set apart in the margins of the text. This should help students to distinguish the most important topics, as well as aid in their review of the material.

Fourth, every lesson has been reviewed in great detail with the goal of improving the clarity of the explanations and correcting several minor errors that were found in the original edition.

Fifth, the book is now in a handsome perfect-binding, with all exercise pages perforated for easy removal. (publisher's website)

What I recommended with "knowing the whole book first" with regard to Introductory Logic is doubly true for Intermediate Logic. Work well ahead of those you teach. They will be able to tell if you are teaching from a text and answer key (as is common in progressive education) or if you are merely/only one step ahead of them!

Answers appear to be more cut and dried for Intermediate Logic, when one consults the essential Answer Key.  Know the terminology frontwards and backwards so that it is second-nature before you begin to teach.

How is that done? Watch James Nance on the companion Logos DVD. This set appears to have been recorded/released at the same time as the other set mentioned above.

Nance coauthored Intermediate Logic with Doug Wilson. He is the sole author of the Intermediate Logic book.

Watch the DVD. Understand what is presented in the text. Then, proceed to the next. (You may know some of the symbols from set theory in mathematics.) Then, prepare your own "lecture notes" and put the concepts of logic in your own words. Experiment with your own illustrations. Perhaps you could try them out on another logician (even via email) before teaching/inflicting them on your first class.

And then what? Take the tests. It's only fair, right? Right? Refrain from looking at the answer key. Perhaps you could do what we did. After the first 30 minutes of testing, allow yourself notes. Notate the answers you write or change with an "N" in the margin. Then, for the last 15 minutes, consider it open book, noting new answers or changes with a big "B." This helps testing meet its evaluative purpose, begin the correction process, and also help the test-taker learn earlier from mistakes or deficiencies.

Consider the unique challenges of classical education. In logic and Latin and rhetoric we are teaching subjects that are no longer actively, widely, or regularly taught in most private, religious, or public schools. We are in recovery mode. I can't wait for the first graduates of our programs to begin coming back as the next generation of teachers and show us up! Humility in education is always a good thing. Have I told you about our Kindergarten Latin students who will know more Latin (than I know now at least) by 6th grade? I hope I have time to stay ahead...
The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.