Dr. Miranti Murphy BOULEVARD HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY, HOLLYWOOD, FL
2nd Grade ELA : Unit #16 - Errors in Reasoning Examined : Lesson #4

# Faulty Logic: Circular Reasoning

Objective: SWBAT write examples of opinions with errors in reasoning about a given topic.
Standards: W.2.1 W.2.5 SL.2.1c
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 What is Circular Reasoning ? - 20 minutes

In order to teach the Common Core writing standards of using reasoning to support opinions, I guide students to explore faulty logic examples in this unit.  Faulty logic is an argument that lacks validity. It is sometimes referred to as paradoxical reasoning because it is illogical, absurd, or contradictory.  Not only will they need to recognize faulty logic so as to avoid using it in their own opinion writing, later they will also be expected to assess reasoning provided by the author and determine if the evidence is based on fallacious reasoning as they enter middle school and high school in preparation for research in their careers or college. Students need to build on prior knowledge to get to that point.  Starting to introduce errors in logic in the primary grades gives students the foundational knowledge needed for this critical reasoning later on.

Although the concept of faulty logic and errors in reasoning is not often taught until later grades, I decided to present my gifted, high achieving class with this challenge.  It is an experiment of sorts for my class consisting of students who are out-of-the-box thinkers. The tricky part is teaching students through non-examples. This non-traditional route of teaching shows students what not to do instead of what to do.  Students use critical thinking skills as they analyze the irrationality of their writing. This activity is a demonstration of the old adage "Learn from your mistakes." Indeed, mistakes provide opportunities for learning.

I begin this lesson by explaining the concept of Faulty Logic.  Students are introduced to the six types of Faulty Logic in this unit of study.  However, our focus for this lesson is "Circular Reasoning".  We define, explain, exemplify, and discuss its meaning and applications.  I show two movie clips: Circular Reasoning video example and Circular Reasoning example 2 video that explain the concept of Circular Reasoning.  Prior to showing the clips, I ask students to pay particular attention to the dialogue between the characters so that they can summarize afterwards and react to its content.  I show the clips one after the other, but I preface it by asking students to compare/contrast the two clips.

Student responses were that the clips were similar because they both show illogical reasoning.  The only difference was the setting of the videos.  We discuss our reactions to the video and students share their analysis about the characteristics of circular reasoning and elaborate on why they think it is faulty logic.  I actively listen to assess student understanding and give specific feedback as needed. With the shift towards incorporating more informational texts, Common Core standards challenge students to identify irrelevant evidence and false statements.  Analyzing errors in reasoning is a powerful way to deepen students' knowledge in analyzing the accuracy of information.  Students become more critical thinkers.

This lesson focuses on the writing standard of writing opinion pieces supplying reasons that support the opinion.  Only in this case, the supports are non-examples because they are faulty logic or illogical.

Student's Own Words