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What Are the 4 C’s of 21st-Century Skills?

What are the 4 C's?

The 4 C’s of 21st Century skills are:

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Creativity
  3. Collaboration
  4. Communication

Communication is about sharing thoughts, questions, ideas, and solutions.

Collaboration is about working together to reach a goal and putting talent, expertise, and smarts to work.

Critical thinking is looking at problems in a new way and linking learning across subjects and disciplines. 

Creativity is trying new approaches to get things done, innovation, and invention.

These four skills are essential for modern students to succeed in school and the workplace. In this article, you’ll discover what each skill entails and why they are so important to teach.

4 C's

1. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the practice of solving problems, among other qualities.   C

It empowers students to discover the truth in assertions, especially when it comes to separating fact from opinion. With critical thinking, students don’t just learn a set of facts or figures. Instead, they learn how to discover the facts and figures for themselves. They ask questions. They become engaged in the world around them. They help others think critically, too. That might be the most important part of critical thinking. Once one student has it mastered, it quickly spreads to their peers.

It works just fine when students use it alone. But when students combine it with the next skill, the sky is the limit to what they can achieve.

Learn more about Critical Thinking by clicking here

What does that mean for our students?

Today’s students need to develop Critical Thinking skills by learning to: 

  • Use different kinds of reasoning, such as deductive and inductive, to understand a situation.
    
  • Analyze complex systems and understand how their interconnected parts support the systems. 
  • Gather relevant information.  Ask important questions that clarify points of view and help solve problems.
    
  • Make decisions by selecting appropriate criteria and identifying alternatives to make reliable choices

2. Creativity

Creativity is the practice of thinking outside the box. It is equally important as a means of adaptation. This skill empowers students to see concepts in a different light, which leads to innovation. Creativity is the ability to produce new, diverse, and unique ideas. Thinking creatively means looking at things from a different perspective and not be restricted by rules, customs, or norms

While creativity is often treated like a you-have-it-or-you-don’t quality, students can learn how to be creative by solving problems, creating systems, or just trying something they haven’t tried before.  It means students will be able to look at a problem from multiple perspectives — including those that others may not see.

This 21st-Century Skill allows students to embrace their inner strengths from big-picture planning to meticulous organization. They learn about their creativity and also learn how to express it in healthy and productive ways. More importantly, they also become motivated to share that creativity with others.

Just like with critical thinking, that makes creativity contagious. One student creates an interesting or innovative solution to a problem. Then, when they share it, the next student can become inspired to try something similar.

The point of creativity is to encourage students to think differently than convention demands.

What does that mean for our students?

To build effective Creatively Skills students must learn to: 

  • Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming) 

  • Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts) 

  • Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts 

  • Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the field in which the innovation will occur

3. Collaboration

Collaboration is the practice of working together to achieve a common goal.

This 21st- Century Skill, is about working together to reach a goal and putting talent, expertise, and smarts to work. Just like with communication, technology has made collaboration easier. Technology takes this skill a step farther, making types of collaboration possible that weren’t before technology. Just like with communication though, the same breakdowns can happen. The number of choices can get overwhelming, and the actual collaboration can get lost while we pay too much attention to the tool we’re using to collaborate. As the world goes more interconnected, the collaboration will become a more and more essential skill than it already is, which is why it makes the list of the 4 C’s for 21st Century skills.

Collaboration is important because whether students realize it or not, they’ll probably work with other people for the rest of their lives. Practicing collaboration and teamwork helps students understand how to address a problem, pitch solutions, and decide the best course of action. It’s also helpful for them to learn that other people don’t always have the same ideas that they do.

What does that mean for our students?

To build good Collaboration Skills, students must learn to:

  • Work effectively with different groups of people, including people from diverse cultures.

  • Be flexible and willing to compromise with team members to reach a common goal. 

  • Demonstrate responsibility as a team member working toward a shared goal.

Communication is a requirement for any company to maintain profitability. It’s crucial for students to learn how to effectively convey ideas among different personality types. That has the potential to eliminate confusion in a workplace, which makes your students valuable parts of their teams, departments, and companies.

4. Communication

Communication is the practice of conveying ideas quickly and clearly. It is expressing thoughts clearly, crisply articulating opinions, communicating coherent instructions, motivating others through powerful speech.

What does that mean for our students?

To build effective Communication Skills students must learn to:

  • Communicate using digital media and environments to support personal and group learning

  • Share information efficiently and effectively using appropriate digital media and environments.

  • Communicate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively to different audiences using various media and formats

How Do the 4 C’s Work Together?

The four C’s of 21st Century skills let students create a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Critical thinking teaches students to question claims and seeks truth.

Creativity teaches students to think in a way that’s unique to them.

Collaboration teaches students that groups can create something bigger and better than they can on their own.

Communication teaches students how to efficiently convey ideas.

Combined, the four C’s empower students to become one-person think tanks. Then, when those students get together, they can achieve almost anything!

Learn more about 21st-Century Skills by clicking here​

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