The 4 Cs of Learning

The 4 Cs of Learning

You know the four Cs right? I mean everyone is talking about them. The four Cs that are going to change education in the 21st century? They are amazing! Do a Google Image Search for 21st Century Skills and you get a beautiful display of the four Cs. Great colors, wonderful wording and multiple ways to explain: Communication Collaboration Creativity Critical Thinking I look at this list from the lens of a 4th grade teacher, a tech coach, a consultant or a substitute teacher and I can’t help but think…really? This is new? There is nothing new in this list that educators haven’t been teaching and focused on for years. Don’t get me started on these being “21st century skills,” a phrase I gave up over 7 years ago. So why do these things keep coming up? As I work with schools and educators, we do focus on these four Cs. They aren’t new…but in a way they actually are new. How we view them is new, what they mean is new. In 2016 these four Cs have a different meaning. Communication: Teaching to communicate the way the world communicates Not sure if you have noticed, but we no longer write letters to each other. We write Facebook updates, Facebook messages. We write emails…lots of them actually. We write LinkedIn updates, Tweets, Snaps, and Grams. I’m not saying it’s right…I’m saying this is how the world, both socially and in the business world, communicate. So where are we teaching this in schools? Where are we teaching: How to create and send an email to a variety of audiences? How do you make contact with someone on Twitter and LinkedIn? How do you use Instagram to get your message across via images? Yes…communication isn’t new to education but how we communicate has changed. Are we teaching these new forms of communication? Where do they belong in our curriculum? At what level should we start and how do we assess these new forms of communication? Those are the questions we should be trying to answer in 2016. Collaboration: Across space and time Collaboration isn’t new. I remember doing group projects in elementary school in the 80’s. We collaborated on projects, on worksheets, on reading and science projects. Collaboration….getting along, working with others…has always been a part of education. So why is this a “21st century skill”? In 2016 collaboration means across space...

Read More

Can you become Creative?

A great article out of the New York Times entitled: Can You Become a Creature of New Habits? Has had me thinking today about creating creative cultures in our schools. David Warlick wrote a post recently that looked at the top 25 economic cities in the U.S. and how a “creative class” played a role in the rankings. What I found interesting was the Bob Cook, who evaluated the cities factored in the portion of the population (that) were in the creative class. This includes scientists, engineers, artists, and teachers. The belief is, and this is consistent with Richard Florida’s writings, the creative class benefits the economic prosperity of a community as well as culture. So perhaps one of the challenges of communities today is, “How do we attract creative people?” “How do we convince our creative children to stay?” Or another question: How do we create creative people? The authors and researchers quoted in the article has some interesting things to say. “The first thing needed for innovation is a fascination with wonder,” says Dawna Markova, author of “The Open Mind” and an executive change consultant for Professional Thinking Partners. Do we encourage our students to wonder? I see it all the time in Kindergarten classrooms, see it a lot in 2nd grade, not so much in 5th grade and by 8th grade? I don’t think I’ve ever hear a middle school or high school teacher say “I wonder…….” Instead we ask students to make decisions. We as them to decide between this answer and that answer. We ask them to decide between fact and opinion. “But we are taught instead to ‘decide,’ just as our president calls himself ‘the Decider.’” She adds, however, that “to decide is to kill off all possibilities but one. A good innovational thinker is always exploring the many other possibilities.” So by asking students to make decisions rather than wonder about possibilities we’re fitting students into the box of what we believe to be right or wrong. The article goes on to talk about brain research and how habits play a role in our creative nature. …brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously develop new habits, we create parallel synaptic paths, and even entirely new brain cells, that can jump our trains of thought onto new, innovative tracks. Now that’s cool. I’m sitting here with my legs up on my desk...

Read More