How to Teach Your Kids Critical Thinking Skills: A Great Resource

How to Teach Your Kids Critical Thinking Skills: A Great Resource

With two 5-year-olds and a 4-year-old in our family, bad logic frequently permeates our home. Here are two conversations just from yesterday:

 

Me to my 4-year-old daughter: “Can you please put that blue ball away?”

My daughter: “Mommy, I’m not wearing blue today. I must not have gotten it out.”

Logic fail: Not wearing blue has nothing to do with whether or not you got the ball out. (But nice try.)

 

Me to my 5-year-old daughter: “It looks like you need to go potty. Please go.”

My daughter: “No, mommy I don’t need to go.”

Me: “Then why are you walking like a duck?”

My daughter: “Because I need to go potty.”

Me: “You just said you didn’t.”

My daughter: “Right, because I don’t.”

Logic fail: Totally inconsistent responses.

 

It’s pretty easy for adults to call out kids when they’re using poor logic. It can be a lot harder, however, to identify bad reasoning coming from other adults, particularly when it comes to claims against Christianity.

Consider the following statement that commonly gets tossed around the internet. You might realize it doesn’t sound like good reasoning, but can you explain why? More importantly, can your kids?

“Religion is just an accident of geography. If a person is born in Kansas, he’ll probably be a Christian. If he is born in Saudi Arabia, he’ll probably be a Muslim. Religion is man-made and you were simply brainwashed into it.”

(This is called a genetic fallacy – saying something can’t be true because of where it began, how it began, or who began it. Even if religions are correlated with geographic locations, that says nothing about the respective truth of those religions.)

We can’t teach our kids how to answer every single claim against Christianity before they encounter it. But we can teach them how to think critically so they are intellectually prepared to appropriately evaluate the massive amounts of information that will come their way.

Today I want to share a fantastic resource that is designed to help you do just that. It’s a book called The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning.

A fallacy is simply an error in the way someone is making an argument. The book’s 38 lessons are written for kids ages 12 and older to understand, and are perfect for parents to go through as well (I don’t have kids 12 and older, but I learned a lot myself as I read through this!). Each chapter contains:

  • A 2-3 page lesson on what the fallacy is.
  • Several exercises to practice identifying that fallacy. Example statements are given, and the reader has to identify which of all the fallacies he/she has learned to date applies.
  • Answers to the exercises, with brief explanations. (As a side note, there were several answers I disagreed with, but it didn’t hurt my overall impression of the book. They could have made some of those exercises more clear, but at the same time, that makes for even better discussion with your kids.)

The exercise examples are somewhat entertaining, so kids won’t be bored by them. They’re also very practical types of statements that kids would actually hear – statements about religion (the authors are Christians), politics, and everyday life. Although the suggested age is 12 and up, parents could easily use this with younger kids who are intellectually curious.

If you want to help your kids learn how to think, this is a wonderful introduction! You can read more about The Fallacy Detective here. (Just for credibility’s sake, this was a totally unsolicited post about the book – I simply came across it, bought it, thought it was an awesome resource and wanted to tell you about it!)

Have you used this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you have other resources to share that will help parents teach their kids good reasoning skills, please do!

9 Comments

  1. Pat Mingarelli on September 11, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    The book sounds interesting. You did a great job of getting my curiosity up. Like you, we just have young kids, but it seems like a book to put on my own reading list. It definitely appears to be a book most Christians could use.



    • Natasha Crain on September 11, 2014 at 12:43 PM

      Hi Pat! Absolutely great for adults – like I said, I read it for myself. I actually got a little excited each time I got to the exercises to see how well I could catch each fallacy. 🙂



  2. Pat Minagrelli on September 11, 2014 at 8:11 PM

    I like apologetic debate and talking about matters of faith. In those conversations it does seem like people bring up a lot of the same arguments, but every so often there is a new one. I know something is wrong with that new claim, but yet can’t put my finger on it. This book looks like it will be helpful. I’ll have to put it on my short list. :-).



  3. […] Read more here: How to Teach Your Kids Critical Thinking Skills: A Great Introductory Resource. […]



  4. Paul Short on September 14, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    (Cross-posted from Facebook)

    What logical fallacies do you often encounter with people? At the risk of revealing some bias, I find that the skeptical community doesn’t have this problem NEARLY as badly as the faith-based folks do. Can you guys give me some examples of where you run into this?



  5. Keith Walker on September 15, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    My daughter is reading this book as part of “Challenge A” which is a Classical Christian home-school curriculum. She enjoys learning about logic and asks me questions about some of the examples she doesn’t understand.

    As for other resources, we went through Anita Harnadek’s “Warm-up Mind Bender’s Deductive Thinking skills.” We would sit at the dinner table and go through a few problems after our meal. The problems at the beginning of the book are very simple, then progress in difficulty throughout the book.

    We are currently working out way through “A Case of Red Herrings: Solving Mysteries through critical Questioning” by Thomas Camilli. This one is a little more difficult because it forces the kids (11 & 12) to think about possible solutions to word problems using equivocation. The puzzles are designed to get people to ask lots of questions to get the answers.

    Both books are fun and the kids enjoy them.



  6. Rosann on September 15, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    Very interesting! Love the personal conversations you had with your kids. Cracked me up cause I’ve had very similar ones in our home. 😀 I hadn’t heard about this book until now, so I’ll be sure to check it out. Thanks for sharing about it.



  7. ZeeMommy on September 17, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    Have had this book and have read it as well – your review is right on track! I’m hoping to read it again, and go through it with my children when they are older. I have also decided that my children must learn some logic also. I have used one Mind Benders book with my daughter (7 years old) and have another one I’m planning on starting.

    I can’t help but wonder when schools in general stopped teaching logic – or did they ever teach it at all? Logic is probably one of the most needed subject that is completely neglected.



  8. JinSun on March 14, 2015 at 6:47 PM

    Great review and such a great topic – critical thinking! Don’t we all hope and pray our kids grow up with discernment and and the ability to speak truth into the lives of others? I know I do.