Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Thinking Toolbox

The Thinking Toolbox
by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn
Visit their website: Christian Logic

When a construction worker builds a house, he usually straps his tool belt to his waist so that the necessary tools are at his fingertips. Ready to use at a moments notice. It makes no sense to constantly run around looking for the necessary equipment and learning how to use them as he works. The best builders are those that have the tools ready and know how to use them.

The same is true in critical thinking. It is helpful to have the "thinking tools" available so that whether we are reading a book or listening to a sales pitch we can have the necessary tools in our mental tool box ready to guide our thinking and our choices.

However, the tools for thinking are obviously not hammers and saws. Instead, we rely on the the rules of logic and reasoning skills to help develop our thinking. Most formal logic course are philosphical and offer few practical helps. But the Bluedorn brothers have come up with an introductory logic series that will provide most with the tools they need to help construct a logical argument and also to evaluate when to use them.

The book is written for students age 13 through adult. There are 35 lessons that will help develop reasoning skills. The topics include "Tools for Thinking", "Tools for Opposing Viewpoints", "Tools for Science", and "Projects". Each lesson is about 3 pages long. They provide fun dialog and cartoons that help make the material easier to grasp and retain. Along with the text, they provide exercises that the family can work on together and apply immediately.

The Bluedorns promise that by the time you finish this book, you will have many tools in your thinking toolbox - tools such as

  • How to list reasons to believe something
  • How to analyze opposing viewpoints
  • Examining evidence and sources
  • Brainstorming
  • The scientific method
The book could be read and completed independently by an older child. I plan on using it in the fall with all my children as a read aloud before they begin their independent work. The discussion questions are excellent even for smaller children. Even if they don't grasp some of the logical concepts, they will enjoy the simple examples and learn right along with their older siblings. We worked through the Bluedorn's first book, The Fallacy Detective, in a similar fashion and it went very well.

I have had college level classes in formal logic and I found this book entertaining and informative. The reasoning skills learned from this book along with their companion book the Fallacy Detective provide a great entry into the study of formal logic. But more importantly, these skills will give our children the tools necessary to think clearly in their daily lives.

A complimentary copy of The Thinking Toolbox was provided by Mind and Media for review.

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