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  • Writer's pictureJulien Morizio

Teaching Logic to Elementary School Students

Updated: Jan 30



I was once offered a summer teaching assignment for a Grade 5 Math and Logic class. Coming up with material for the Math component was simple enough; I looked through government documents, online programs, school textbooks, review workbooks, and took what I needed from these abundant resources. Since this was an exam preparatory course, I taught Math in a straightforward manner. My approach followed a simple formula:

  • Present the new concept while referring to topics the students have already learned

  • Provide them with early exercises to introduce the new way of thinking that the concept entails

  • Break down how the new concept can be used to solve such problems

  • Assign more problems with increasing levels of difficulty


Now what is the formula for teaching Logic? That one was not as clear-cut. First of all, what topics are to be taught within logic? There is no set curriculum, no set government guidelines with a list of terms and concepts students must master by a certain grade. There is no clear content because logic is more abstract than mathematics. Logic is one of those terms, like morality and creativity, that has a place in education, yet the path through which students develop it is not clearly defined. Some might even think that logical reasoning is an ability that you are either born with or not. However, modern education is founded on the principle that anything can be learned by any student, and logic is no exception.


Logic is a skill and it can be developed. My colleagues and I recently discussed the best ways to teach logic. We could not think of a better way than providing students with various logic problems to solve. Even then though, there is a risk that in doing specific logic problems, the students will get better at understanding and solving those problems alone, rather than improving their ability to think logically. The same reality can be applied to how we teach mathematics. There is a growing issue that sees students excelling in mathematics, yet they do not understand the concepts they supposedly "learn." A student can "learn" how to solve problems certain ways so that when they are tested, they can repeat the same procedure as they remember it and succeed. The issue here is that they do not learn, they memorize.


To get better at logic, a student must understand mathematics. They must contend with the new concepts as they are introduced to them rather than memorize the standard procedures they must use in order to pass tests. As students learn new concepts in math and utilize them effectively, they unlock mental faculties that allow them to problem-solve and, yes, think more logically. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains this process with great clarity in his following statement:


"The act of learning how to do the math establishes a new kind of brain-wiring in your mind a kind of problem-solving brain-wiring. So it's not about what you learn, it's about what methods, tools, and tactics you had to develop in order to solve the problem that you may never see again for the rest of your life, but you will see other problems, where these methods and tools will become immensely valuable to you."


Therefore, my strategy to teach Logic is heavily reliant on how I teach mathematical concepts. Every time I introduce something new, I teach to ensure that the students understand and not just remember. Especially when teaching intangible skills, how we teach can be more important than what we teach. By focusing on the how, we are better positioned to guide how well our students learn.

 

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