Lewis Carroll believed everyone should learn to think logically to help them cope with the bad arguments put to them by politicians and advertisers.
He also considered that when you are trying to think something thru, you often get bogged down by the details of what the problem personally means to you. It is easier to manipulate the ideas in an organized way if you remove the emotional connections from your mind.
The Game of Logic
He particularly wanted to help teenagers and young people think logically, and in the end, he devised a way of doing this in a way that made it seem more like a game.
The result was his “Game of Logic”, and it first appeared in the shops in 1887. It is very cleverly thought out, and it will be of interest to an intelligent and intellectually curious older child or teenager who has an interest in mathematics, logic, and puzzles.
It is also of interest to adults, since Carroll was particularly devoted to symbolic logic, which uses symbols to represent the basic ideas (or premisses). This type of logic used is not much taught these days and it offers a novel approach to problem solving.
Making Logic Fun
Although it is called a “game”, it is not competitive. Carroll intended it as a fun way of getting the basics of logical thinking. He knew that it would be more fun to have a couple of people playing, because then they could compete with each other to see who could solve the puzzles the quickest.
In his typically humorous style, Carroll explained in the introduction to the book that, beside the nine counters, his game “… requires one player, at least.” “I am not aware of any game that can be played with less than this number, while there are several that require more,”
Untangling Complicated Ideas
You begin the game by using two premises, or ideas. As you get better at managing these, you increase the number of premises, till you can untangle even very complicated ideas.
The Carroll Diagram
Carroll devised a diagram, called the Carroll Diagram, which was similar to a Venn Diagram, to help his readers organize their thoughts. The Carroll Diagram is, in fact, better than a Venn Diagram and is now used in British elementary schools for early maths teaching.
Here’s an example of a very simple Carroll diagram. You have to put the shapes into the right “boxes.” Once you can do that successfully, you can go on to the Game of Logic, where those shapes are replaced by written premisses.
Once you are used to dealing with the written premises, you can replace them with symbols, and then tackle the problems mathematically.
A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down
Carroll’s written premises were often humorous, so his readers could combine amusing ideas with the problems they faced. They might have to decide whether crocodiles needed hairbrushes or whether all the freshly baked cakes were really nice to eat.
The Game of Logic is an Attractive Book
The Game of Logic is still available to this day, in reprinted versions such as that published by Dover.
The original version is also available, but this is very expensive and more for collectors than teenagers. Carroll took pains to make it an attractive book, with a bright red cover and swirly golden lettering. Inside, it has a cardboard board and a set of cardboard counters printed in gray and dusky pink.
Carroll actually suppressed the first edition of the book, which originally appeared in 1886. This was because he did not think the printing was up to scratch. He was a perfectionist, and even tho he paid for the production and printing of all his books himself, he would rather lose the money than have something go out if he was not satisfied with it.
Children are teenagers
Remember that although Carroll said the book was for “children,” he really meant “teenagers.” In Victorian days, the term “teenager” had not been invented. You were considered to be a “child” right up to the day when you put on adult clothes and joined adult society. So the game of logic is not suitable for small children, unless they are exceptionally mathematically gifted.
An Ideal Teaching Aid
If you or your gifted child have never done algebra or any form of mathematics that uses symbols, then it is helpful to start doing the Game of Logic with someone who has done a little math. The instructions need to be followed exactly!
The Game of Logic is an ideal mathematics teaching aid for strengthening the critical faculties, and Carroll would be glad to know that, over a hundred years after his death, it is still being used to do this.
Its a great game for gifted students.