Thursday, April 30, 2009

Memoria Press: Traditional Logic Book 1

My oldest son decided a few years ago he wanted to become an attorney when he grew up. As he approached high school I knew I needed new insight in preparing this young logical thinker for college. My husband and I attended our local homeschool convention and asked all sorts of experts their opinion regarding curriculum choices for future law school attendees. All agreed that study of debate, logic and development of strong writing skills would be essential in preparing our son for pre-law collegiate work. Typical of homeschooling this third child of ours was causing us to enter into uncharted waters of a classical education.

Those of you familiar with the Classical education model will instantly recognize Memoria Press as a highly respected name offering curriculum that supports the study of Latin, history, copywork, penmanship, Christian studies, logic and rhetoric. In addition, Memoria Press just released a new modern foreign language program, First Start French. All courses are designed to fit easily in with the classical model of education.

After a helpful discussion with customer service at Memoria Press it was decided my 9th grade son and I should receive Traditional Logic: Introduction to Formal Logic, Book 1 to review. This introductory course is the first in Memoria Press’s logic series and focuses on traditional logic which was used in the classical trivium. The course consists of 14 chapters with a recommendation to spend a week of study per chapter. My curriculum package contained a 144 page soft bound manual for students, a slim 32 page soft bound answer key and a DVD video course filled with lectures for each chapter starring author Martin Cothran. Memoria Press sells this curriculum package at their website for $68.95 or without the DVD course for $31.90. The course is designed for students in grades 7-12.

Cothran states in the “Note to the Teacher” section of the curriculum, “Traditional Logic is the study of the classical syllogism”. It is not the study of informal logic which covers the content of argument. According to Cothran, traditional logic must be mastered first before attempting the study of fallacies and argument building so often thought of as the study of logic. Formal or traditional logic, he says, “trains the mind to respect truth”.

If you had a similar education to mine you most likely didn’t study logic in high school or college. Taking on a new subject as the teacher can seem a bit daunting, but Memoria Press has designed their course to hold the teachers hand and encourage independent study of the student. The text is written to the student in a conversational tone and if reading through a lesson is too burdensome the video course contains full lectures for each chapter.

According to Cothran the video course was put together with homeschoolers in mind. It was developed by a cottage school where students met once a week then did homework on their own. Traditional Logic is written to be a semester course or can be used as a year long course for those wishing to take their time. Helpful hints for customizing the schedule to fit your homeschooling needs are given in the text.

I found the video content of the course a bit bland with Cothran dressed in a beige suit standing in front of a white board. The lecture was consistently made up of the written material in the student and teacher manuals with helpful power point slides high lighting key points. I thought the appearance of the power point slides during the video broke up the visual monotony of the neutral set and could easily be used to assist students with refining note taking skills during lectures.

I did like the intelligent language and well-organized structure of each of the lessons within the text. I found it took my son and I about a half an hour to read through a lesson together, although I could have easily allowed him to read it silently alone which would have taken less time. After reading he was required to answer 6-13 brief questions relating to the lecture portion of the course. The questions required true/ false, matching and essay style answers. Questions and answers are provided for four days of study per week. My answer key held all answers including suggested essay answers to guarantee his comprehension of the material was accurate. Even though I had never formally studied logic I found this course very easy to facilitate and not intimidating in the least.

When I asked Jonah for his opinion he shared the following,” “I found the course interesting and easy to understand. I like the format of the lessons because questions were easily answered from the reading section of what I read in each lesson. It only took me about 10 minutes a day to complete the reading and questions which I liked. I thought the video portion of the course was a bit boring. When I continue this course I probably will not use the video, but just read through the material and answer the questions. I am planning to finish this Logic course because I am hoping it will help me become a better writer.”

For sample lessons, to view an on-line catalog or just read helpful articles regarding the classical model of education, visit the Memoria Press website at The quality of their classical curricula provide homeschoolers with wonderful options to help meet the educational needs of future attorneys, scientists, homemakers, teachers and everyone else in between.

No comments: