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The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking for Children & The Children's Guide to Critical Thinking Companion DVD Review by Nancy Casari Dayton

Linda Elder
The Foundation for Critical Thinking
PO Box 220
Dillon Beach, CA 94929

The Foundation for Critical Thinking is part of a network of organizations that seeks to cultivate critical thinking skills in order to foster educational reform. The various organizations provide an array of books, videos, DVDs, testing, research, and more for students and teachers to develop critical thinking skills. The website and resource catalogue offer highly polished articles and information about the endeavor of critical thinking and a plethora of product offerings for all grade levels and teachers.

The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking for Children is a small booklet that introduces young (K-6) children to the basic concepts of critical thinking. Using three generalized characterizations of kinds of thinkers, the booklet includes such topics as intellectual standards of thinking, inferences, and assumptions. The information is provided in clear, simple language with black-and-white illustrations.

The Companion DVD contains a brief introduction and three segments, each approximately five minutes long: "Standards of Thinking" explains such guidelines as "Be clear" and "Be logical." "The Parts of Thinking" includes components such as questions and assumptions. "Intellectual Virtues" discusses such qualities as integrity and perseverance.

In the spirit of "Fairminded Fran," I must say that I think the information provided in these materials is worthwhile, well organized, and visually appealing. Training our minds toward intellectual rigor is a worthwhile endeavor. I must also mention that the materials are not from a Christian or Biblical worldview. Not in any of the materials did I see a reference to God, whom Christians acknowledge as the giver of wisdom. The Fairminded Fran character states that she is motivated to be a good thinker so she can help others and treat them fairly, and she expects others to treat her fairly too. It's a secular humanist perspective. A Christian family would need to approach these resources in the same way that they approach other intellectually valuable materials that do not acknowledge God. 

Product review by Nancy Casari Dayton, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2009