Monday, January 12, 2015

Teaching Inductive and Deductive Reasoning

Once a week I teach Speech and Debate.  Last semester we focused on Speech.  This semester I am going to introduce Debate.  I was the president of my Debate team in High School.  To this day, I still believe it was one of my most valuable experiences in school.  I learned so many thinking and speaking skills that translated to real life and other experiences.

This is my first time to teach Debate myself, so we are going to figure it out as we go (like so many other things in teaching).  I went ahead and registered my classroom with the National Forensic League.  We are a long way from competing, but if I am going to teach it I want to teach with the goal of eventually building a team that could compete.  The National Forensic League has a lot of great resources, so I am excited to check it all out.

Another resource I purchased this summer was the book Make Up Your Mind: A Classroom Guide to 10 Age Old Debates.

The book is broken into 10 chapters with each chapter focusing on a different topic.  It deals with philosophy, science, history, etc. and all of the topics require students to think critically about an issue and consider two sides of the issue.  There are topics such as nature versus nurture and discussions of American identity. I will definitely incorporate some of the other chapters into language arts because many of the chapters include writing tasks; however, you could easily incorporate a lot of the chapters into other subjects based on the topics. It actually would also make a good resource for taking discussions of point of view to the next level.

One of the chapters was on inductive and deductive reasoning, which turned out to be a perfect introduction to debate (in my opinion). We read about different types of inductive and deductive fallacies that are used in argumentation. We  then read an article about Bigfoot, claiming its legitimacy as a field of study.  They had to read through the article to find evidence of the different types of fallacy arguments.  It made for great discussion.

We easily could have followed up by looking for articles from current magazines and online sources to examine for the arguments.  As our closing activity, they had to write a letter to an editor of a newspaper making their own "ridiculous" claim and convince the editor why it is valid using the different inductive and deductive arguments. Here are a couple of the examples they did:

How do you teaching critical thinking and different types of reasoning in your classroom?  Do you incorporate debate or public speaking into your curriculum?

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