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The Art of Argument (Student Book) and Teacher's Materials Review by Kathy Gelzer

The Art of Argument is "an introduction to the informal fallacies." The student text, a 229-page book for junior and senior high school students, is divided into two units: (1) Relevance and (2) Presumption and Clarity. The fallacies of relevance are further divided into Ad Fontem Arguments, Appeals to Emotion, and Red Herrings. Unit two includes Fallacies of Presupposition, Fallacies of Induction, and Fallacies of Clarity. There are eight chapters, broken down into 32 lessons. Each lesson is made up of approximately one to two pages of concise text and often a variety of review questions. Other assignments in the book are dialectic discussion exercises given by Socrates to the reader, with answers following, and cumulative fallacy worksheets.

The Teacher's Materials book consists of Student Book Keys, Quiz and Test Masters, and Quiz and Test Keys. It is a little confusing as to when exactly one is to administer these optional quizzes and tests. Chapter or lesson references would be helpful. The Teacher's Materials book contains no actual teaching instructions for using this logic curriculum. In fact, the student manual introduction is written to the student, as if he is going through the text on his own. The introduction strongly suggests the student memorize the fallacy definitions and directs the student to the website to access a logic forum and downloadable supplements. Otherwise, there are no directions for use, but I think most parents and older students would find it user-friendly.

There are some unique components to the student manual. Sixty fictional magazine ads throughout the book help to illustrate the fallacies described. These provide an immediate opportunity to apply what is learned. There is also an ongoing dialog between Socrates, and two students named Tiffany and Nate, which is employed as another fun way to learn more about fallacies. The appendices include a little play (to read or perform) and an eight-page "episode" from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis by Max Shulman.

The inside cover, front and back, has a handy chart of all the fallacies by category, name, and description-very easy to locate when you want to check something fast. In the back of the book, you will also find a bibliography and glossary.

The Art of Argument is a thorough study of the fallacies, written in an organized, engaging manner. It is a great mix of instruction and application. I would highly recommend it for teaching logic, and it would work especially well if you've got a motivated self-starter who likes to delve into subjects on his own.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2007