Trivium I

Ryan Grutsch

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“What is Logic?”

It is a difficult question to answer because most people connect “logic” with the word “logical.”

There are actually two basic forms of Logic, Formal Logic and Informal Logic. Formal Logic is what most people may have experienced in a philosophy or mathematics course. In Formal Logic you look at statements like:

1.       All men are mortal.

2.       Socrates is a man.

3.       Socrates is mortal.

We look at the argument and determine if #3 is valid and sound based on what is being said in #1 and #2.

In Trivium I we will focus on Informal Logic. Informal Logic uses everyday language to reach reasonable conclusions. We learn to use reason to argue. It focuses on the conversation of an argument. I describe the value of this to my students using this illustration:

I tell my students to:

Imagine a lawyer screaming at a judge, “You don’t understand because you are much older than me and I don’t think you are very smart!”

They all agreed that this would not be the best way for a lawyer to do her job.

I then asked my students to raise their hands if they have ever said, “Mom! You don’t understand because you’re not a kid!”

Not surprisingly many had employed this time honored technique and the proverbial “light-bulb” went off above their heads as they thought, “Hey, this Logic thing might not be so bad.”

After studying Informal Logic they will obtain the tools needed to persuade using reason.





In Sixth Grade:

                We will focus on the grammar of Informal Logic. It will be a basic introduction to the history of logic and major philosophers.  We explore the Socratic Method where students learn to ask the important questions, instead of relying on their teachers to ask them.

                We will study the Informal Fallacies. These are all the ways people argue incorrectly. They fall into several categories. If a person is arguing incorrectly, they are distracting from the main point, making unwise assumptions, or using words to confuse.


Hopefully, this clears up some of the confusion about Trivium I. I urge you to communicate regularly with your student about what we are doing in our class. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Please note:  An on-going assignment for Trivium I is to argue like a philosopher. This means having adult conversations at a reasonable volume to persuade someone to align with your point of view.

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