Trivium Pursuit

Review of The Thinking Toolbox

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Logic can be a difficult subject to teach, yet The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills, by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn, is a great introduction to develop the absolutely necessary thinking skills required to excel in logic and discernment. The Thinking Toolbox spends the first three chapters laying down a rock-solid foundation of why thinking critically is important, what an argument is, when a person should not argue or use logic, and examining opposing and personal viewpoints. The fourth chapter of the book delves into the scientific method, a great example of critical thinking in application. In the fifth chapter, readers are offered the opportunity to use their newly-gained skills with three different thinking projects.

These homeschooled brothers must have been a hoot to raise! They creatively engage the reader from the very beginning of The Thinking Toolbox with zany examples of sometimes serious and sometimes crazy situations. Richard LaPierre’s humorous illustrations are the perfect complement. The most important point(s) in each chapter are in large bold letters, peppered into the content. Exercises follow each chapter. This area of the book can easily be enhanced by creative input from parents. A few of the solutions in the answers key seem subjective, so the adult reading along with the student will need to be on his toes as well.

When the book starts getting into the use of applied logic, the authors take the time to use real-life examples in science. One of the best perspectives The Thinking Toolbox gives is that sometimes there is “no news” in an experiment. In a world that seems moved only by earth-shattering breakthroughs, this is a realistic and down-to-earth reminder that science is one step at a time and not always Nobel Peace Prize material, though it can still be very crucial work.

The greatest strength of The Thinking Toolbox is that the skills learned from this text can be applied to defend Christ. Disappointingly, it is a little soft in the area of incorporating Christianity in its lessons. For example, in the exercises for Lesson 6: How To List Reasons Why You Believe Something, the only time it mentions the Bible is when it asks the reader to defend the belief “Murder is Wrong,” under the option “The Bible says murder is wrong.” This would have been a great opportunity to introduce defending your faith!

The Thinking Toolbox is the perfect springboard for The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning, another fascinating book written by the Bluedorn brothers. One must have their thinking in order before they can take apart someone else’s ideas, thoughts and arguments, and that is what The Thinking Toolbox clearly teaches.

Michelle Henry-Stephens

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