Thinking Critically About Community Cats


Drums, PA -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/07/2013 -- Virtually all educators agree that "critical thinking" is of primary importance to instruction, and is an irreplaceable part of every child's learning process. But despite this agreement, there are surprisingly few children's books that illuminate a deep conception of critical thinking.

Dr. Linda Elder, educational psychologist and president of The Foundation for Critical Thinking, is helping to bridge this gap. In her new children's book, Fairminded Fran and the Three Small Black Community Cats, Elder introduces her readers to the growing plight of "feral cats", while simultaneously introducing them to critical thinking as a transformative concept. Many animal rights advocates and teachers across the nation have expressed strong support for the book as a teaching tool.

The book tells the story of Fran, a young girl who finds three, small, black cats living behind her school. Fran's concern for the cats' well-being compels her to find the best way to help. In the end, Fairminded Fran must use her newfound knowledge to convince her classmates to understand feral cats by using critical thinking skills to make better choices.

Elder said that "I hope - through this book - to contribute to the literature on humane education, while highlighting essential critical thinking concepts and dispositions. Through the book, children can see fair-minded critical thinking, selfish critical thinking and naïve thinking... all of which play divergent roles in human thought. When students learn critical thinking in connection with important issues like those surrounding community cats, they come to see, increasingly over time, the value in fair-minded critical thought. When we as a society value fair-minded critical thinking in every domain of human life and thought, we will begin to create fair-minded critical societies."

Elder has written several books and guides for elementary level instruction, including The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking for Children and its accompanying teacher's manual. She has co-authored four books on critical thinking and 23 "Thinker's Guides", including the recently revised and expanded 30 Days to Better Living Through Critical Thinking. In addition, Elder has taught psychology and critical thinking at the college level and has given presentations to more than 20,000 educators at all levels. Elder has also developed an original stage theory of critical thinking development. Concerned with understanding and illuminating the relationship between thinking and affect, and the barriers to critical thinking, Elder has placed these issues at the center of her thinking and her work.

To see book reviews, media images and page samples from Fairminded Fran, visit:

For other publications from the Foundation for Critical Thinking, visit: