The Art of Argument Review

Friday, March 16, 2012


We received The Art of Argument to review consisting of 2 paperback textbooks (student and teacher's guide)  from Classical Academic Press  (CAP) plus the first CD in the series that can be used to compliment the text. Classical Academic Press provides quality, profession materials for homeschoolers, co-ops and classrooms that promote a "Classical  Education, Creatively Taught".  This particular set is geared toward the Junior High age student. I took that to mean 6th - 9th grade level.


CAP  is physically located in Camp Hill, PA, but of course has a presence on the web- or can be reached by phone- (866) 730-0711 or fax (717) 730-0721.


I have heard good things about CAP and have reviewed a program for younger children previously. In fact, Classical Academic Press offers educational materials in Languages (Latin, Spanish, Greek and French), Bible and Poetry in addition to logic. I will be reviewing the first book in their Bible Old Testament series soon.


This review is mainly going to be informational. While I personally loved the subject of debate and felt my 14 yo was ready to tackle the subject, he was frustrated and couldn't figure out what he was supposed to learn. I honestly do not feel this reflects on the text. However, even the introduction was overwhelming to him.


My son doesn't have some of the educational struggles my oldest daughter has, he is very resistant to anything new. He wants to learn and he can be a very good student, but we attempted to start this book several times and I was met with a confused expression and irritable manner on each attempt.


It became evident we would have to step away and approach the subject of debate again in the future!


I loved the look of the books we received. The Art of Argument introduces the student to 28 informal fallacies.  The fallacies are divided for the student clearly into 3 categories: Relevance, Presumption, and Clarity. Students are guided to read and answer questions to aid them in their study of these fallacies. The text is clear- to me- I wasn't introduced to this subject until highschool. While I could certainly have made my son memorize the different terms, he would not have been in a place to actually understand what was meant and it seemed I would be doing more harm than good by pressing the matter.


Logic can be an intimidating subject matter to teach and I was thankful for the first DVD in the series to assist me. My son and I listened to the introduction and first lesson together. He then used the  DVD and the text to answer the questions best he could. The student workbook is consumable, but can be used as a review guide in the future. While I like to stretch workbooks out among other students, by letting the children write on a report cover or such, this time I felt this book should be written in and kept as future reference. 


The  $21.95 pricetage for the student book seems very reasonable for a book of this scope and sequence. The Teacher's guide is available for $24.95, while the DVD series is $54.95. Logically, there is a savings if you buy as a set. In fact, the savings is substantial. The set is available for $88.95, but would come to $101.85 if each part were purchased separately. I imagine the DVDs possibly could  be used alone, if a teacher were able to monitor, but I recommend getting the full set. I doubt you could find a course  covering these basic 28 fallacies for less than this!


Plus, the texts are very well planned out and have additional tools for learning spread throughout. In addition to text, there are short comics and pictures used by way of illustration.  So, I would NOT recommend trying to skip any part of this series. I guess the DVDs wouldn't be essential, but for us they not only saved time and helped ease some of the frustration, but I felt more confident about presenting the material with the DVD available. Probably I would have put off this review in a panic otherwise at the first sign my son didn't just take right to the subject matter! I would personally aim to learn a different fallacy each week throughout the school year and aim for getting each fallacy mastered.


We will for sure be using this program in its entirety.  I wish my son had taken to it instantly, but realize everyone learns at a different rate and have come to realize there is no point in really pushing something. If I introduce something over multiple days and it still isn't "catching on" then I have to assume the timing isn't right. I will wait until he is ready to understand the material and try again! This year, I have seen tremendous growth and a true desire to figure out "Why" things are they way they are. I thought that would mean he was ready for this series, but maybe in another 6 months he will be! To learn what other members of the TOS review crew thought of this produce, click here!


As part of the TOS crew, I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review.


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