Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review of Critical Thinking Co.

The Critical Thinking Co. is one of those companies whose catalogs I really look forward to. Their products were some of the first I ever used, even before I began homeschooling. Everything they put out is just so good! It doesn't hurt that all of their workbooks just look so great, too. Full-color, thick pages, and with the best copyright release in the business (35 copies for one classroom per year - it's crazy). I just love this company so much! When I saw  Practical Critical Thinking and its accompanying Teacher Manual (Gr. 9-12+) come up for review, I knew that I had to try to get them for Therese.
This course, while not a complete logic course, is (like many of Critical Thinking Co.'s other great workbooks) an awesome supplement or (as I almost always use them) something that you can hand to an advanced/bored/gifted kid and just tell them to go nuts. The main book is 378 full-color pages long and is comprised of eight chapters in four units. The units are Becoming a Critical Thinker, Adding to My Critical Thinking Toolbox, Critical Thinking and Arguments, and Applying My Critical Thinking. 
The Teacher Manual contains reproducible copies of the student pages along with further explanations and discussion topics and points. The two really work in conjunction as a set, as the Student Book teaches to the student and contains the fullness of the lesson. The Teacher Manual has all of the answers and great Masters, but it does not teach to the student (even though it does contain some explanation). The fullness of the material is experienced when the two books are used in conjunction. While you can use the Student Book independently of the Teacher Manual (if you know all of the answers!), the reverse is not true.
How Therese (14) Used The Material
The first time Therese flipped through Practical Critical Thinking, her comment was, "This looks like a really good course!" Therese is no stranger either to logic, or to logic courses. She has taken a couple of logic courses in the past, plus her debate experience has taught her more practically about fallacies and such than a course probably every could. Still, she is always up for more work like this. Because Therese has done logic work in the past, I let her decide where to start this book. She began at the beginning at first, but quickly saw that it was too much review (her school time is very rationed these days because of the chronic illness with which she has been dealing for several years). Once she jumped to Unit 3, though, she was much happier with the work. She is very familiar with recognizing deductive and inductive arguments and identifying the various informal fallacies. Dare I say this "work" was much more like a game for her?

In retrospect, I would not have given this review product to Therese. She didn't need it, and even though she had fun with it, she didn't benefit from it. She has had plenty of critical thinking course material in the past, and, further, this is just how her brain works. The child of mine who really needs this course is Nicholas (12). He is a literalist to the nth degree. I think that comes as a result of his ADHD/OCD/Tourette's personality. This course *will* challenge him, and he will learn very valuable lessons from it -- but not yet. It is recommended for grades 9-12, and that is definitely the right age for it. Thus, we will definitely be bringing it out again in a few years.

As with everything I have ever used from Critical Thinking Co., I can't recommend this set highly enough. The material is covered succinctly yet thoroughly. It is presented in a visually interesting and stimulating way. It was enough to keep my gifted and experienced-with-the-material 14 year-old interested, but it will be non-threatening enough for Nicholas (described above) when his time comes (gifted, but 2e). You can't really ask for much more than that. I fully anticipate using it with the twins, too.

Critical Thinking Co. provided Crew members with several things to review, so be sure to click the banner below to check all of them out! Then come back in a few days for my very last review of 2015.
The Critical Thinking Company Review
Crew Disclaimer

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