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Chris Perrin

Logic across the Curriculum?

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Short answer: yes!

Longer answer:

I think it matters what counts as "dialectic." I've seen enough variety of expressions to have concern about what passes under that term (I'm lumping in "Socratic teaching" here). Even within Plato's dialogues dialectic can be more destructive or constructive, depending upon the interlocutors. The best teaching I've witnessed in others involves both kinds--destructive in those moments when a student's prejudice or self-assuredness is inhibiting their learning, and constructive when a student's thoughts are laboring, but need some midwifery to give birth to something living. Training that sort of teaching in teachers who don't have a natural inclination toward would seem to require a lot of imitation of skilled teachers, simple opportunities to practice, and one-on-one feedback with follow up opportunities to improve. It would be fun to see a conference or school conduct a few days for accomplishing that sort of training.

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In having to use Peter Kreeft's Socratic Logic text for a class and also taking an economics class I came away thinking every teacher should have to take Logic and Economics! They wouldn't be directly teaching either, especially to young students, but they would begin introducing the concepts through the conversations in the classrooms: Johnny, it doesn't follow that you said A and then B happened so D is what you did about it. Sarah, if you choose this option, that is going to take away this other option - is that worth the cost? Jim, how much is the difference between these two decisions worth to you? What happens if we add one more aspect or take one away? That sort of talk and mindfulness. Then when they get to middle school and high school they will have been prepped for the terms and formal ideas that accompany logic and economics. I agree that it must be done carefully or else "damage" can be done to young hearts and minds. 

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