Monday, March 12, 2012

Art of Argument - A Review

The recommended age range for Art of Argument is Junior High.  I reviewed it with my 13 year old daughter.

Brief overview of product, from the website.  

Students master 28 fallacies (such as begging the question, the straw man, ad hominen, et al) by studying many pertinent examples. The text features a variety of:
  • Dialogues
  • Worksheets
  • Real-World Applications
  • Phony Advertisements
  • Dialectic Discussion Questions
  • Tests
  • Fun extras such as a humorous skit for students to perform, and the famous short story, Love is a Fallacy by Max Shulman
The Art of Argument has been revised to include:
  • Improved chapter and unit organization for greater ease of use
  • Fallacy explanations rewritten for clarity
  • Many added and updated examples
  • Ten new and revised advertisement illustrations
Our Thoughts:

I have been fascinated with the study of logic for a few years now, starting with a book about fallacies that I stumbled upon.  So, I was more than willing to review this book about "the art of argument" with my 13 year old daughter.  I volunteered with high hopes.  And I am happy to report (as you can see) that I made it onto the review team.

Politics and advertisements bombard us with messages, attempting to persuade and sway us to one side or the other.  Often they use faulty logic, and sometimes they use absolutely no argument at all.  They simply ask that we agree, just because.  They play games with us, throwing out terms and numbers that are either totally irrelevant or even completely false.

How can we know who to believe?  How do we know which politicians are being even half-way honest?  How can we see through the smoke screen of the commercials on TV and the advertisements in magazines and newspapers?

A good way to help us sift through for the truth is to have a good understanding of logic and the fallacies that signal bad logic.  The Art of Argument is, in my opinion, a great place to start.  As I mentioned, I asked my 13 year old daughter to use this book.  But I am working through it right alongside her.  Why?  Because I am really interested in it, and I want to learn it to! 

The book covers the important stuff like the background of logic and important terms, along with descriptions and examples of the fallacies.  It asks short-answer questions to review the lesson and offers essay style questions that require outside research.  The text even adds in great little scripts/dialogues to make it a lot more fun.  This is my daughter's favorite part of the book.  She LOVES drama! Seriously, she lives and breathes acting, already performing in several plays.  So she thinks it is awesome to be able to read through scripts with me, acting out the different emotions of the varied characters.  The scripts help make the topics more relevant to typical day-to-day teen issues, such as students running for class president or a student watching commercials on TV.

A teacher's edition book is available.   "The greatly expanded Art of Argument Teacher’s Edition now includes the entire student text, answers to all exercises, and new chapter and unit tests."  I found it to be a great resource.  I read from the teacher's edition, while my daughter read along in the student textbook.

The company also offers a DVD set to complement the textbook.  It takes each fallacy one by one and breaks it down offering definitions and lots of real-life examples.  My thoughts are that this could be helpful for auditory learners, for those who are struggling to understand the fallacies and could use more extensive examples and explanations, and also for including younger siblings in the discussions.

I think Logic is a very important and relevant topic.  Mastering the fallacies of logic and being able to discern them in an argument will serve you and your child well.

Beware!  Your child may become a much better arguer.  :)  But as the book points out:  There is a big difference between an argument and a quarrel. 

Read more reviews!

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge to review, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.


  1. This is a great review! Thanks so much for sharing it!


  2. Thanks, Kate. I am thrilled to have been introduced to this book and we are continuing to use it.