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The Four Cs of Education


The National Education Association asked a variety of leaders what 21st Century skills were most important for kids to gain during their K-12 education. The answers have become known as the “Four Cs”.

The Four Cs Are:

“Students are able to work effectively with diverse groups and exercise flexibility in making compromises to achieve common goals.”

Collaboration Means:

  • Ability to work well within teams
  • Flexibility in achieving common goals
  • Assuming shared responsibility for collaborative work

“Students are able to generate and improve on original ideas and also work creatively with others.”

Creativity is:

  • Using creation techniques like brainstorming
  • Creating new and worthwhile ideas
  • Refining and improving on original ideas
  • Communicating new ideas effectively to others
  • Demonstrating originality and inventiveness
  • Viewing failure as an opportunity to learn

“Students are able to communicate effectively across multiple media and for various purposes.”

Communication can be defined as:
  • Being able to clearly articulate ideas orally, in writing and nonverbally
  • Listening effectively
  • Using media & technology effectively

Critical Thinking
“Students are able to analyze, evaluate, and understand complex systems and apply strategies to solve problems.”

Developing critical thinking skills is:

  • Being able to reason effectively
  • Understanding “systems thinking” (how parts of a whole interact with one other)
  • Ability to make judgments and decisions
  • Ability to solve problems in both conventional and innovative ways

Incorporating the “Four Cs” is a way for educators to help ensure that K-12 students are learning the 21st-Century skills that they’ll need — hand in hand with fundamental academic content knowledge in math, language arts, and science — to succeed in college and career.

Download the NEA’s Preparing 21st Century Students for a Global Society: An Educator’s Guide to the “Four Cs”.

Image via Getty.



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