James Madison Critical Thinking Course (A Timberdoodle Review)

Thrift Schooling

The James Madison Critical Thinking Course, part of the Timberdoodle Ninth Grade kit is the homeschool resource that I did not know that needed. This is one of those, "where have you been all my life?" type homeschool finds. After I received this in the kit and looked through it I knew that this was a course that I wanted to use with multiple kids—so I do. In the morning, as part of "table time" with  my middle schooler and high schoolers, we work through a portion of the lessons together. Although this could be used successfully with one child, it works perfectly in a group setting. I do not have many subjects that I combine with my older three, so this gives us more time to bond and connect. 

Critical thinking is essential. Not everyone is trustworthy and honest and children need to learn how to read people and how to discern the truth in a practical manner. This course helps students put their emotions aside and look at the facts. What an important skill to have! How many misunderstandings, fights, and arguments come from being led by our emotions? If we can teach our children to assess a situation in a practical manner, they will go far in life. 

The first lesson that we went through together was my favorite. The scenario introduces a Detective Wise who runs into a homeless man in need. The lessons go through a certain situation and then breaks it down in several ways. Students dissect each sentence several times and inspect how to critically approach what is going on. They look at the situation from different angles, see which information is important, which is not, and which can lead to more clues. This was my favorite lesson because our family runs into this situation often while in the city. My children are learning to offer homeless food (they know where to direct them to a free meal) rather than offering them money. Out of the goodness of their hearts they might want to genuinely help someone but if they are being deceived into giving money it isn't helping anyone. These lessons, this lesson in particular, has helped them to understand that you can be harmless as doves but also wise as serpents in the world. 

Additionally, I have used this course as an opportunity to work on their handwriting. At the beginning of the week we read the story and then I have them use the story as copywork. These stories are only a few paragraphs so they are the perfect length. It helps them to work on their handwriting and get the story into their heads for the rest of the week. We stick to one story a week and work slowly through the lessons, discussing different aspects of it each day of the week. We generally only work on textbook work four days a week so this works out well for us. 

Overall this course has been a blessing for our family. It is exactly what we need for higher level coursework in our homeschool. Great conversations are birthed from these lessons and I love that I can combine it and use it with multiple children.

Disclaimer: I received the above product in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

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