Learning Logic Through Games, Interview with Dr. Micah Tillman

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Learning Logic Through Games, Interview with Dr. Micah Tillman.

Learning Logic Through Games, Interview with Dr. Micah Tillman

Learning Logic Through Games, Interview with Dr. Micah Tillman

Learning logic skills is good life preparation for teens. (We know that when we watch the current news and social media environment, right?) Learning logic is also fun for teens when it involves gaming.

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast, Vicki interviews her oldest son, Dr. Micah Tillman. Micah has a PhD in Philosophy and has taught logic at high school and college level for years. Micah’s exploration of logic began in high school with his high school math adventures. These were the early days of homeschooling when there wasn’t much curriculum available for homeschoolers. In order for Micah, who actually liked math, to cover calculus in senior year, we search and finally found Saxon Calculus (new at that time).

Micah had to teach himself calculus because his mom was not very good at math. Rather than help him understand the problems when he was stuck, she simply put on her counselor’s hat and said, “hmmm” to his questions until he solved them out loud. Micah used those skills as a math tutor during graduate school.

Micah was a Computer Science major for his undergraduate degree at Messiah College (now University) where he had to take lots of math. He found out that, while he could do math- and there was lots in his major, he didn’t love it like many of his peers.

For graduate school Micah switched to Philosophy for his studies. He worked as a math tutor for undergrads and found out that he actually did love Algebra. He found out that math has vocabulary of fear: you do “problems” and “exercises”. So he wanted to lessen his students’ fears by helping them think in less fearful language.

After earning his PhD from Catholic University, Micah taught college students Symbolic Logic. He found he was having a blast solving logic problems but his students were miserable, just like his undergrad tutees. He asked himself, “Why do I find it fun but my students are not?”

Micah’s dissertation had been on Edmund Husserl who was also a mathematician and philosopher. Husserl worked on trying to show that the rules of mathematics followed from rules of logic. He then went on to study how signs work, such as +-= . (He then went on to study language and mind, as well.)

Micah’s studies of Husserl led him to solve the problem of students fearing and hating logic by making logic into a game. He changed the ideas of symbolic logic into shapes and colors. This made the ideas of logic concrete and more understandable.

Micah wrote a computer program that turned logic into a mystery puzzle-solving game. The computer game format helped his students learn logic and like learning logic. The game was an “anthropomorphized (human-like qualities) card game” which taught students to play through the steps of logic in a fun way. He used that course to his college students for several years. Then he made it available (for free) on his website.

Micah now teaches 9th and 10th graders the philosophy of math and science for Stanford University’s prestigious online high school. While he’s between classes with his students, he works on an updated version of his logic computer game.

Teens don't ask, "Why do I have to do this?" when they are learning from games. - Dr. Micah Tillman

By the way, you might be thinking:Why learn logic through games?

  • As Micah points out, when faced with a course teens don’t like, they ask, “Why do I have to do this? How am going to use this when I grow up?”
  • He also noticed that they never say that about gaming. Imagine a teenager saying, “Why do I have to play this computer game? How will I use it when I grow up?”
  • Teens learn better when they like what they are doing. Many teens like computer games, so learning logic through a game makes it fun (and more efficient learning).

The name of the computer game that Micah developed is: Chambergon Battle Logic.

Through the game, you help little characters (happy characters and angry characters) work out their feelings which sneakily teaches them logic.

Why is it useful for a homeschool high schooler to learn logic?

Micah says there are several sides of this:

  • Learning logical thinking builds critical thinking skills. It helps teens learn to evaluate when someone presents evidence and a conclusion to them about something in life, whether the evidence is strong and the conclusion is strong. This can be applied to politics, science, music, advertising and more.
  • Learning logical thinking is play. It is a fun way to have recreation (and recreation is often the source of scientific innovation).
  • Learning logical thinking is good exercise for the brain. Mental discipline builds attention and skill.

How can you get hold of Chambergon Battle Logic for learning logic through games?

Go to Chambergon.com and check out the two things there:

  • You can download the original game along with a textbook and user manual. This is free!
    • You can count this as a one-credit high school course. You get an A for the course when you beat the game.
  • Micah is currently porting the game to the Unity and Unreal game engines. It will probably end up on Unreal. (Gamers will understand what this means.)
    • Keep an eye out for information on the new format!

Also catch Micah’s contributions to 7SistersHomeschool:

  • Micah co-wrote with his mom: History and Philosophy of the Western World). Check out this HSHSP interview with Micah where he explains why teens need to learn philosophy.
  • Then at the request of his youngest brother and his friends (who wanted more real philosophy skills after being inspired by History and Philosophy of the Western World), Micah wrote Philosophy in Four Questions.
    • This is a genuine philosophy course that is accessible to teens (the boys all said it was their favorite course in high school). The text answers the four questions that philosophers ask:
      • What is there?
      • How do we know?
      • What should we do about it?
      • Why?

You can find Dr. Micah Tillman at MicahTillman.com (check out his stuff about fractals).

Join Vicki and Micah for an inspiring talk about learning logic through games. And thanks to Seth Tillman for editing!

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Learning Logic Through Games, Interview with Dr. Micah Tillman

HSHSP Ep 161: Why Teach Philosophy in Homeschool High School? Interview with Dr. Micah Tillman

This week on HSHSP Ep 161: Why Teach Philosophy in Homeschool High School? Interview with Dr. Micah Tillman.

Dr. Micah Tillman on Why Teach Philosophy in Homeschool High School. Build teens' thinking skills in a user-friendly format. Really! Philosophy can be interesting and fun! HSHSP Ep 161 #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #MicahTillman #PhilosophyForHighSchool

HSHSP Ep 161: Why Teach Philosophy in Homeschool High School? Interview with Dr. Micah Tillman

Homeschool graduate and philosopher, Dr. Micah Tillman joins his mom for a discussion on why and how teens should study Philosophy.

Micah homeschooled with his siblings from 3rd grade through graduation. He learned some important independent learning skills in homeschool high school as he grew academically beyond his mom’s skills. This helped him be successful in college while his peers struggled with the self-directed learning necessary there.

Micah also loved the co-ops, youth groups, band and sports that he was part of in his homeschool high school years.

One of the pivotal courses in his homeschool high school years was his World History and Philosophy course in our homeschool co-op. This course was brought about by Micah and his peers asking deep *what’s-the-meaning-of-life* questions.

At college Micah majored in Computer Science at Messiah College because he wanted to develop video games but he loved Philosophy so much that he filled all his electives with Philosophy courses (especially loved the courses by Dr. Robin Collins). As he neared graduation, Micah realized the job market for Computer Science was not as interesting as he hoped (no video game design jobs available at that time). So, he decided to go to graduate school and study what he really loved (teaching- which he learned he loved as a student ambassador for Messiah College, Philosophy, and writing which he did for fun).

So Micah went to grad school at West Chester University and loved modern philosophy there, then on to Catholic University to study the traditional philosophers, world-wide philosophy and the history of Christian thought.

The Goal of Philosophy: Teach teens to think clearly so they can live their lives well. Dr. Micah Tillman on HSHSP EP 161 #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #MicahTillman #PhilosophyForHighSchool

After graduation, Micah stared a popular podcast, Top 40 Philosophy, has taught Philosophy at several colleges and is now a teacher at Stanford University’s prestigious Online High School. Micah’s students are scattered around the world. The core curriculum is 4 Philosophy classes (for instance, the science classes Micah teaches his 9th and 10th graders are Scientific Reasoning (Philosophy) and history of Science). The program takes students beyond STEM to becoming the thinkers who will someday drive the culture. The goal is to teach their students to teach students to think about their whole lives and living them well.

He also developed a video game for his students to teach classical logic. You can download this for free on his website.

Micah’s goal as a teacher is not to develop professional philosopher, rather, he wants everyone to *love wisdom* (which is what Philosophy means). Teaching his students to love wisdom, he helps them to become aware of themselves and how they interact well with others and the world around them. He teaches them that Philosophy is about *Thinking clearly about life so that you can live well*.

As teens learn to think philosophically, they will have the skills to live better. Teens tend to have *teenage angst* and ask tough questions. They wrestle with who they are, how to be friends, what they like, how they are alike and different than their parents, what to do with cliques, what kind of person they want to be, why things in the world are fair or not.

For homeschool moms who have no background in Philosophy, but want their teens to have an experience with Philosophy so that they can think clearly about life so that they can live well, there’s hope! Micah has 2 Philosophy texts for teens that many teens have reported are their favorite courses in homeschool high school.

Philosophy in 4 Questions

Philosophy is the process of thinking clearly so that you can live well. One way philosophers think clearly is asking questions. The 4 basic questions that philosophers ask about everything are:

  • What exists?
  • How we know?
  • What should we do about it?
  • Why?

The text is written especially for homeschooling high schoolers. It is accessible and has a sense of fun.

Parents are sometimes uncomfortable with their students studying Philosophy. Teens ask hard questions. If they study Philosophy, will they ask even more (and harder) questions? Micah explains that God gave us minds, and that we need to care for them by using them well. We do that by training our minds to think well (mind-fitness, just like our bodies need physical fitness). This kind of fitness helps teens go into the adult world with the strength and tools to face the confusing mass of ideas in the world outside the home. Philosophy in 4 Questions helps teens take their angst and develop strength of mind to go from angst to wisdom.

History and Philosophy of the Western World

This is a gentle introduction to the history of Philosophy (that Micah studied in high school) then added to while he was in college. History and Philosophy of the Western World is a World History credit for the transcript. In a light-hearted manner, homeschool high schoolers learn about history and the philosophers that influenced history.

Check out Micah’s website MicahTillman.com and check out his writing and educational video game projects, including Chambergon Logic (where teens can earn a Logic credit in a fun, free format.)

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HSHSP Ep 161: Why Teach Philosophy in Homeschool High School? Interview with Dr. Micah Tillman