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Logic: A Seminar Based on Isaac Watts's Classic Textbook Review by Kendra Fletcher

Daniel Valles
PO Box 403
Shelby, AL 35143

Sometimes a review just writes itself. The product is of exceptional quality or does such an excellent job that I don't have to try to pull the best things from it to communicate in my review. Logic is such a product. Daniel Valles has taken hymnwriter Isaac Watts's classic textbook on logic, written in 1724, and turned its lessons into a multimedia presentation that engages the student and communicates the book's lessons in a timeless way.

The seminar DVDs are nearly four hours long, covering most of the highlights of the book. Mr. Valles could have filmed his lectures in a traditional format, but instead he chose to film with period costumes and settings as the backdrop. Set in 1776, the scenes enhance the lecture and make it more interesting, particularly if your student previously turned his or her nose up at the thought of studying logic formally. My teens and I sat down to preview the DVDs, but soon we were joined by the younger members of our family, who were curious to see the video as well.

The original Watts book is, of course, written in now-antiquated language, but Mr. Valles presents Logic in modern English. That doesn't mean it's dumbed down. While divided into forty short lessons, the depth of the work is preserved and communicated well. Mr. Valles gives good and thorough explanations at the level of the typical high school student, but younger students will certainly be able to grasp concepts too. Covered in Logic are such topics as the nature of ideas, the examination of a subject, various kinds of propositions, the doctrine of prejudices, judgment, reason and syllogism, and arguments.

Logic comes with a student workbook that is designed to be used with the seminar video. Throughout the seminar, text is cued and provided for the student to write down. Your student could take notes independent of the workbook, but the workbook is reasonably priced and makes a nice addition to the DVDs as it includes a term index, application notes from the seminar, and key illustrations.

When a subject isn't your forte, a teacher's guide is a nice tool to have. Packed with objectives, teacher notes, and a grading page for student quizzes and tests, the teacher's guide could be an essential piece to the curriculum as well. If you are planning to use Logic for a co-op or need to give your own students a workable plan, the teacher's guide helps break the lessons into manageable sessions. Even if logic is your favorite subject, why reinvent the wheel when the author has done the work for you?

What utterly impresses me even more about Logic is the fact that author Daniel Valles has authorized the purchaser to copy the materials for family members and homeschool co-ops. In fact, it may be copied in full (not in part) for free distribution (but not in a tuition school/class setting). If you have more than one student, as I do, you know what a huge blessing this is.

Logic can be a stuffy and boring subject, and when its primary text is from another century altogether, students can be turned off to the idea of having to study. My hat is off to Daniel Valles for presenting Isaac Watts's important and Biblically-based work on logic in a fresh way that will help our students develop clear thinking and exercise their sense to discern between good and evil.

"The power of reasoning was given us by our Maker, for this very end, to pursue truth; and we abuse one of His richest gifts, if we basely yield up to be led astray by any of the meaner powers of nature, or the perishing interests in this life."
-Isaac Watts, 1724

Product review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2009