Last changes: Saturday, December 01, 2007

Logic Self-Taught: A Workbook

# Why Learning Logic Is like Learning to Swim . . .

Imagine that you find yourself taking a lecture course entitled “Swimming”. The lecture room is full, the instructor has her hands full trying to explain exactly how to swim. She has a heavy task at her hands indeed. In a couple of months her students will be taking an exam in a deep-water swimming pool. So she meticulously explains how each of the muscles needs to contract for the coordination to be perfect. Occasionally she reminds the students not to forget to breathe. And so on.

Poor joke – you will say. Unfortunately, it is no joke. Fortunately, there are no lecture courses on Swimming, we know that swimming is a skill that needs to be learned in practice in a swimming pool, not in a lecture hall.

Unfortunately, we often forget that logic is more like swimming in this respect. At the basic level at which it is taught at the universities and colleges, it should be taught as a skill – you are to develop your logical skills after all. And this also means a lot of practice and a lot of work (though not in a swimming pool).

Logic Self-Taught is a workbook that is designed especially for students who have problems with logic or formal sciences. It has been first used and designed for students at USM to whom I’ve taught logic entirely on-line. It has since undergone numerous transformations, which were often introduced in direct response to the problems the students encountered in the process of self-teaching logic.

The method of the workbook is simple but you have to take its instructions to heart. Each of the workbook units is divided into sections. The sections are immediately followed by exercises, which you must do right after having worked through the section. Immediately after having completed such an exercise, check whether your answers are correct with the Solutions provided in a separate document. If there are errors, make sure that you understand why you made them and that you can do the exercise without committing those errors. Only then proceed to the next section where you will repeat the procedure.

Most importantly, you should treat it interactively – when the workbook tells you to do something (e.g. answer a question), don't look around you or think that it would be stupid for you to risk answering the question wrong – just answer the question and pray that your answer is wrong! Why should you hope that your answer is wrong? Because you learn logic most effectively by making mistakes in the Workbook (and not on the test!). It is just a fact of life about us (99.9999% of population who don't have formal minds) that we will make mistakes in the process of learning formal sciences. So you should be happy that you made a mistake and have a chance to learn!

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