It is often said that the end of a good education is to produce literate citizens; however, a quick glance at the materials consumed and believed by the average citizen reveal that being able to read is not enough. One must also be able to discern trustworthy sources, to weigh evidence, and to follow arguments. If one is merely taught how to read and then left alone, he is defenseless target of the propagandist and advertiser (but I repeat myself).
Students at Charis take formal logic classes such as The Art of Argument introducing basic logical fallacies to warn them against common tricks and sleights of hand. Students enjoy bringing in news clippings and are eager to re-enact the latest ad as examples of these logical fallacies. The Argument Builder courses teaches students the common topics of Aristotle which are methods of finding all of the available means of persuasion on a given topic. Students begin by defining key terms, then consider key testimonies and authorities, compare and contrast, develop cause and effect relationships, and finally weigh historical precedent. The final logic course, The Discovery of Deduction, introduces formal logic. Students will memorize four figures of a syllogism, convert everyday language into a formal argument, use the square of opposition to understand relationships between types of premises, and practice three tests of validity on their syllogisms.
The rhetoric courses continue to hone students’ communication skills by relying on Aristotle’s Art of Rhetoric. They will learn the three appeals of rhetoric: logic, ethos, and pathos; as well as the five canons of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Students routinely practice speaking as they apply principles learned in class. They continue to build on their logical and rhetorical foundation through debate, where quick thinking and verbal witticisms are at a premium. Students will train their perceptions and judgments as well as the ability to think quickly. The goal in all of these courses is not to create mercenaries available to the highest bidder, but servants of the truth who can use every available means to show beauty for what it already is.