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Theseus Learning System, The: A Practical Guide to Mastering Essential Thinking Skills
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Theseus Learning System, The: A Practical Guide to Mastering Essential Thinking Skills

Printer Friendly Version

Publisher: Knosis
Author: Andrew Norman
Judith Sanders

List Price: Download $75, Ship $85, Ship Software and Print Copy of Book $95

Ages: 15-18 Years

Reviewed By: Beverly Krueger

 
The Theseus Learning System is a method of developing critical thinking skills. It applies seven principles and uses thought trees to structure thinking. The lesson book teaches the six steps of the Thought Tree Method to whit:
      Identify the issue
      Situate the issue
      Fame the claim
      Next questions(s)
      Provide support
      Examine grouping
The difference between thought trees and concept maps that you may have encountered as graphic organizers is that thought trees organize ideas that take "a full sentence to express, including facts, assumptions, claims, and conclusions," rather than developing statements about a thing like a whale or apple tree. This takes organized thinking to a new level, which is required for both good writing and critical reading. In fact, the author suggests that using this program will prepare a student for the SAT Writing and Critical Reading tests. I agree. One of the major breakdowns students have in taking writing tests is their lack of ability to organize their thoughts.

The overview and Lesson 1 take you through a basic understanding of what the course will be teaching with exercises that highlight the need for organizing your thinking. Lesson 2 walks you through installing and using the software. When you first install the software, you're directed to skim the opening sections of the lesson book and launch the Theseus software tutorial. The tutorial goes through the basics that are covered completely in Lesson 2. Once you've learned about the Theseus system and how to use the software, you can begin the remainder of the lessons. You must read the lesson book either in print form or on your computer in order to progress through the lessons.

The software is a workspace for generating the thought trees that are at the core of the Theseus Learning System. It allows you to work in a number of ways to generate your own thought trees whether from the main idea to supporting details or the reverse. It includes an idea bin where you can type your ideas and then drag them to the appropriate portion of your thought tree. Below the idea bin is the Spotlight, which is probably the handiest help feature I've seen for software in a long time. It is a series of prompts that allow you to enter information as you work your way through developing a thought tree. If you get stuck or are new to using the software this is very useful indeed. It also includes the link to the help files that give you the specifics for how to operate the different portions of the software. You can also export your thought trees to a word processor or presentation software like Microsoft Power Point. The export to word processor worked fine for MS Word 97, MS Word 2000, WordPerfect 10, and Word Pad since the text that is generated is placed on your clipboard and you paste it into the word processor of your choice. I wasn't able to test the export to presentation software.

The lessons cover the basics of organizing thinking, how questions and answers form the building blocks of thinking, how visualizing your thinking makes your thinking more effective, the Thought Tree Methods step by step approach to thinking, how to frame an effective line of thought, ask the right questions, support your claims, and analyze an argument, and putting it all together by writing persuasively. The lessons, written in an easy-to-read conversational style, are orderly and contain sufficient explanation and examples for the typical high-school-age student. The lesson book is 124 full-color pages and is comb bound with a plastic cover. The additional $10 for the book-with-CD option is worth the cost if you do not like reading extended material on your computer. The lesson book pages found on the CD are an exact duplicate of the print lesson book.

You'll find all the exercises from the book and their solutions available in the software Exercises section. The answer key in Appendix A of the book suggests that you not consider the answers given as definitive. Instead, the student is directed to analyze his answers for strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the given answers. Appendix B includes guidesheets, which give summaries of the Thought Tree Method, and the six steps students have been taught to use.

The CD software installed quickly and smoothly on my Windows XP computer. Listed system requirements for the software include: Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, ME, 98; 6 MB hard drive space; CD-ROM drive; 12 MB RAM; and Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher (free software).
More Information
Available From: Knosis, LLC
Address: 7440 Ben Hur St., Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Phone: 412.805.8056
Website: www.theseus.biz/
Email: info@theseus.biz
Other Notes:
 

Add Your Own Review

 
Beverly Krueger
Beverly Krueger is Editor in Chief of the Eclectic Homeschool Online and a homeschool conference speaker. Her publishing company, EEG Publishing, also publishes a number of helpful websites including ChildrensPictureBooks.info, HowToHomeschool.info, HelpMyComputer.info, BounceHouseInfo.com, LiveOnLessMoney.info, OnlineHome-School.net, LivingForJesus.info, and ChristianWorship.info. The Krueger family also participate in the ministry of Mission of Joy, a Christian mission to the people of India.
Copyright © 2005 Eclectic Homeschool Association
 

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