Logical thinking or logical reasoning is the process of using a rational, systematic series of steps based on sound mathematical procedures and given statements to arrive at a conclusion. Unfortunately its role in learning is grossly underestimated, and its role in overcoming learning difficulties is neglected.
In logic, there are two broad methods of reaching a conclusion, deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. Deduction begins with a broad truth (the major premise), such as the statement that all men are mortal. This is followed by the minor premise, a more specific statement, such as that Socrates is a man. A conclusion follows: Socrates is mortal. If the major premise is true and the minor premise is true, the conclusion cannot be false.
In inductive reasoning broad conclusions are drawn from specific observations; data leads to conclusions. If the data shows a tangible pattern, it will support a hypothesis. For example, having seen ten white swans, we could use inductive reasoning to conclude that all swans are white. This hypothesis is easier to disprove than to prove, and the premises are not necessarily true, but they are true given the existing evidence and given that one cannot find a situation in which it is not true.
Training in logical thinking makes you “smarter”
The basis of all logical thinking is sequential thought, says Dr. Karl Albrecht in his book Brain Building. This process involves taking the important ideas, facts, and conclusions involved in a problem and arranging them in a chain-like progression that takes on a meaning in and of itself. To think logically is to think in steps.
It has been proven that specific training in logical thinking processes can make people “smarter.” Logical thinking allows a child to reject quick answers, such as “I don’t know,” or “this is too difficult,” by empowering them to delve deeper into their thinking processes and understand better the methods used to arrive at a solution and even the solution itself.
Logical thinking is also an important foundational skill of math. “Learning mathematics is a highly sequential process,” says Dr. Albrecht. “If you don’t grasp a certain concept, fact, or procedure, you can never hope to grasp others that come later, which depend upon it. For example, to understand fractions you must first understand division. To understand simple equations in algebra requires that you understand fractions. Solving ‘word problems’ depends on knowing how to set up and manipulate equations, and so on.”
A study conducted in India by Bhat examined the contribution of six components of reasoning ability (inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, linear reasoning, conditional reasoning, cause-and-effect reasoning and analogical reasoning) to explain the variation in academic achievement of 598 class 10th students. The predictive power of various components of reasoning ability for academic achievement was 31.5%.
A learned mental process
One of the aims of the Edublox programs is to teach a child to think logically. Logical thinking exercises are carefully graded, and gradually becomes more and more challenging. Below is one example — add four blocks to complete the sequence:
Logical thinking is not a magical process or a matter of genetic endowment, but a learned mental process, says Dr. Albrecht.
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