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The Thinking Toolbox

by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn

Reviewed by Martha Robinson

Purchase details: The Thinking Toolbox, Thirty-Five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn. Paperback, 234 pages, $22. Published by Christian Logic. Please support HomeschoolChristian.com by buying this program from our Christian Book Distributors link or Amazon affiliate link.

The Thinking Toolbox, subtitled Thirty-Five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills, is the second of the "Christian Logic" books penned by the Bluedorn brothers. As in their first book, The Fallacy Detective, they combine humor with valuable lessons on right-thinking from a Christian perspective.

Each lesson covers a simple concept by using examples, dialogue, interesting fictional characters, and sometimes real historical figures. Important points are set off in larger print in a gray box. The exercises at the end of the chapter frequently involve both silly names and situations, but give the student ample opportunity to apply what he has learned.

The Thinking Toolbox consists of three learning sections and a project section. The first, "Tools for Thinking," defines terms like discussion, premises, conclusions, fact, inference, and opinion. Students find out the difference between an argument and a fight, how to determine why one believes something, and why it is important to be able to defeat one's own argument. The Bluedorns also bring up when it is inappropriate to argue because of the social situation.

In the second part, "Tools for Opposing Viewpoints," making decisions is the topic. Students see how to make a pro and con chart, how to decide which side wins, and how to evaluate the weight of each item and its source. The exercises provide the chance to solve a theft and a murder (fictional, of course!), and to re-judge the murder case of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday at the O.K. Corral.

"Tools for Science" is the third section. Here, the scientific method is discussed as a way to "show you how to think like a scientist." The Bluedorns then encourage students to do research, ask for advice, and be careful to avoid "pseudoscience" as they start on a project of their own.

The "Projects and Games" section offers basic suggestions and more encouragement for the student's project and also two thinking games. The book ends with a complete answer key

Recommendation: It is said that you cannot teach common sense, but Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn are making great inroads towards that goal with their thinking skills volumes. Students get a large dose of sensible "tools" for solid thinking in this book. With the appealing characters and exercises, The Thinking Toolbox is bound to be a hit with teens. Its ability to move teens on to more mature thinking will make it highly popular with parents.

HomeschoolChristian.com resources related to this review:

HomeschoolChristian.com's Classical Education Section
Interview with the Bluedorns
Question and Answer Session with the Bluedorns
Review of Analogies by Arthur Liebman
Review of Primary Analogies
Review of Reasoning and Reading
Review of Ridgewood Analogies
Review of The Fallacy Detective
Review of Logic in 100 Minutes DVD

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Reviews represent the opinions of the authors rather than the views of HomeschoolChristian.com.