Hard Words for Homeschool Moms

While teaching my classes online, speaking with customers at conventions, and swapping stories with my son who is also a teacher of homeschoolers, I have observed a troubling tendency among homeschooling mothers of teenage sons, a tendency pervasive enough that I feel compelled to say something. I do not want to unduly offend, but I want to speak to the problem as I see it. Here it is: Continue reading Hard Words for Homeschool Moms


Sayers’ Helpful Summary of Logic

In her seminal essay “The Lost Tools of Learning,” the author Dorothy Sayers describes her understanding of the medieval scheme of education, specifically the Trivium — the three liberal arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. She argues that students in the Middle Ages were taught the proper use of the tools of learning by means of these arts. Of logic she says,

dorothy[1]“Second, he learned how to use language; how to define his terms and make accurate statements; how to construct an argument and how to detect fallacies in argument.”

As I teach logic in the classroom, write logic texts (and blog posts), and speak on logic and classical education around the world, I regularly find myself returning to this quote. It is for me perhaps the most useful sentence (of the 238 sentences) in the essay. Continue reading Sayers’ Helpful Summary of Logic

reading to david

Books I read my children

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Andrew Pudewa, the director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing and a father of seven, speak at an education conference on the importance of reading aloud to your children. As he spoke, I recalled with delight the many hours I spent reading to my four children before they went to sleep. My eldest is about seven years older than the youngest. I would first read the Bible, making sure I at least turned the page every night. We read it all the way through, Genesis to Revelation, over and over again (once we finished it in an airport), occasionally changing the translation. We would pray and sometimes sing, and then I would read a story, alternating each night between the boys’ room and the girls’ room (I tried to keep track by which room my chair was left in, only later learning that my girls would move my chair to the boys’ room during the day so that I would move it back to their room so they could be in their own beds as I read).

I am thankful that I kept a record of the books I read to them. I have listed them below, for anyone who might somehow benefit from knowing the stories that shaped my children (and me). They are listed roughly in the order that I first read them over the years. The underlined books are favorites that I read more than once. No doubt some books went unrecorded (I’m pretty sure I read some missionary biographies, but I cannot recall which ones). You can see that I would sometimes get on a theme. I do not offer these as the best books, and I would not even offer all of them as suggestions (were I to do it over, for instance, I would not read Pollyanna to the girls). But they are all worth considering. Anyway, here they are. Continue reading Books I read my children

Knowing the Truth of Statements

Mr. Nance,

Introductory Logic Exercise 8, Question # 9 asks what type of statement this is:

“Jesus is God, and He is man.”

The answer key says “supported, by authority.” Could definition also be a possible answer?

I see what you are thinking. Jesus is both God and man by nature, and definitions are (to a certain extent) trying to get at the nature of the term. But the question is basically asking, “How would you know that this statement is true?” Ask anyone how they know that Jesus is both God and man, and they will point to some authority: the Bible, or a creed, or their pastor tells them, etc. Besides, we don’t really *define* people.


Screen capture Logic A 2016

A New Year in Logic

This morning I had my first class with my new online Logic students. I am teaching six junior high and high school age students in Class A, with even more auditors joining us on the side. We will be meeting twice a week through Introductory Logic, using Zoom software, which appears to work very well for the larger class size.

I teach using the “flipped classroom” model. The students read the lesson in the text and watch me lecture through the lesson on the video (which allows them to rewind and review), then they work on the exercise for that lesson. Having done that, we all meet together online live, M/Th or T/F morning, where we discuss the assignment, answer any questions, correct any misconceptions, and generally verify that everyone is understanding the material. Then I preview the next lesson and they are on their way.

I encourage you to check out all of the online classes available through Roman Roads Media: Logic, Rhetoric, Economics, Good Books, Poetry, Old Western Culture, and American History.

Logic with James B Nance

Learn Logic w/ Mr. Nance!

Ready to learn logic with me? Click HERE to register for online LOGIC for the 2016-2017 school year. This online course includes live instruction twice a week, plus virtual office hours!

LOGIC is divided into two semesters: Introductory Logic: The Fundamentals of Thinking Well, and Intermediate Logic: Mastering Propositional Arguments. Using the flipped classroom model, for each lesson students will read the lesson and watch the video, then work on the exercise. We will then meet together live for online recitations Monday/Thursday from 8:00-9:30 AM (PST), or Tuesday/Friday from 8:00-9:30 AM (PST), where we will discuss the lesson, correct any misunderstandings, and solidify our understanding of the concepts. And as a special bonus for students of this course, I make myself available for virtual office hours, where I answer students’ questions any time during regular work hours every weekday!


As a complete course in reasoning well, Introductory Logic (fifth edition) teaches students how to define terms, make accurate statements, construct valid arguments, and detect fallacies. Intermediate Logic (third edition) will teach students how to analyze, prove, and apply propositional arguments.

This course is designed for students 13 years old to adults. Class sizes will be kept small, no more than 12 per session. Grades will be based on nine tests per semester.

Teachers or tutors can audit this logic course for a reduced price: click HERE for auditing information.

Here is an overview of the planned schedule (adjust by one day for Tuesday/Friday class):

Introductory Logic, Fall 2016
Thursday, August 18          Meet to check software
Monday, August 22             First class recitation
October 10-14                       Fall break
November 21-25                  Thanksgiving break
Thursday, December 15    Last day of regular classes

Intermediate Logic, Spring 2016
Thursday, January 5         Classes resume
February 20-24                    Winter break
April 17-21                             Easter break
Thursday, May 18               Last day of regular classes

Questions? Leave a reply to this post, or message me on my Logic Facebook page.

I look forward to seeing you in Logic class!


Fitting Words in Amazon

51+zKZSga2L._SX368_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Have you wanted to preview Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student? Well, now you can. The “Look inside” feature is now available in Amazon for this new rhetoric course. See for yourself how pleasant the single column, wide margin text is to read, and enjoy the beautiful artwork of George Harrell.

“While many good college-level rhetoric textbooks from secular publishers are available today, there is a clear need for a complete and robust rhetoric curriculum for high school students written from an explicitly Christian point of view. Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student was written to meet that need.” – from the Preface.

“Given the state of our culture, we should want our sons and daughters to be dangerous in the right cause, to possess effective weapons against the enemies of God and His people and know how to use them, because sometimes, fitting words are fighting words.”

– James Nance, Fitting Words

Logic in China (2)

Small Beginnings in China

China marketOur Uber driver chatters at us in Mandarin as he weaves through the crowded streets of Chengdu on a muggy morning after the rains. We pass honking cars, quietly-buzzing electric scooters, and squeaky bicycles loaded with cardboard boxes, heavily loaded garbage bags, and even a refrigerator. With a population of almost 18 million, Chengdu is the seventh most populous city in China. Old men mosey with t-shirts pulled up to expose their warm bellies, and children laugh as they splash in the sidewalk puddles. The usually smoggy air is cleaner than normal — probably by temporarily closing some factories — to impress the leaders of the recent G20 summit, and the locals are enjoying a rare blue sky. They have an idiom in Chengdu: “When the sun appears, the dog barks at it.” We emerge from the car, thank our driver, and walk cautiously along a slippery stone path. Consuming our greasy pork baozi and warm soybean milk, we wait in a closely packed line for the elevator to take us up seventeen stories to a classroom of Chinese college students waiting to learn logic.

Boys in ChengduClassical Christian education is taking off in China. Yes, you read that correctly. I just returned from Chengdu, Sichuan, where (through an interpreter) I taught an intensive, week-long course in formal logic in a small, densely packed room of about forty young men and women. These intrepid grad students are preparing to be teachers of mathematics, classical literature, even Latin, in newly formed classical Christian schools throughout China. They are on fire for Christ and eager to learn. Many of them arrived early from their homes throughout the city for a devotional hour of prayer and Bible teaching. Continue reading Small Beginnings in China


Christian Logic

I was recently asked the question, is there a distinctly Christian view of logic? I offer here the beginning of an answer to that question. (I am not trying to be original here. These thoughts are from many sources. Just trying to be faithful.)

The laws of logic are universal (applicable everywhere), abstract (immaterial, grasped by thought), invariant (not changing), and authoritative (they must be accepted). A non-Christian worldview has a difficult time accounting for such laws. The laws of logic cannot be denied with any kind of consistency, since a denial of logic is tantamount to a denial of truth and reason. But if it is affirmed that the laws of logic are universal, abstract, invariant, and authoritative, yet not “from God,” how can they be justified? Where do such laws come from? They are not invented by men, because they would not then be universal, invariant, or authoritative. They are not material, because they would not then be abstract.

Rather, logic is an expression of God’s unchanging, orderly, truthful, authoritative character. Continue reading Christian Logic