21st-Century Competencies

For anyone to succeed in the 21st century and beyond, we believe that there are four core competencies (the four Cs) that need to be looked at.

Critical Thinking (The 1st C)

The link between critical thinking and education is obvious: one can’t learn well without thinking well. Critical thinking contributes to career success, but also success in higher education. Teaching critical thinking and problem-solving effectively in the classroom is vital for students. Learning critical thinking leads students to develop other skills, such as a higher level of concentration, deeper analytical abilities, and improved thought-processing. Critical thinking has long been a valued skill in society. Today, every student—not just the academically advanced— needs it. While critical thinking and problem solving used to be the domain of gifted students, now it’s a critical domain for every student.

Communication (2nd C)

Students must be able to effectively analyze and process the overwhelming amount of communication in their lives today. Which information sources are accurate? Which ones are not? How can they be used or leveraged effectively? The power of modern media and the ubiquity of communication technologies in all aspects of life make teaching strong communication skills even more important. While education has always emphasized fluent reading, correct speech, and clear writing, there is evidence that students are not mastering these most basic skills. 

Collaboration (3rd C)

Sites like Wikipedia highlight how interconnected our world has become and emphasizes the benefits of collaborative work. The comprehensive nature of these articles reflects the collaborative culture of the site and demonstrates how people working together can produce extremely inclusive and valuable resources.

Collaboration is essential in our classrooms because it is inherent in the nature of how work is accomplished in our civic and workforce lives. Fifty years ago, much work was accomplished by individuals working alone, but not today. Much of all significant work is accomplished in teams, and in many cases, global teams. Generally, collaboration has been accepted as a skill that’s essential to achieve meaningful and effective results. In the past decade, however, it has become increasingly clear that collaboration is not only important but necessary for students and employees, due to globalization and the rise of technology.

Creativity (4th C)

The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind—creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. If students leave school without knowing how to continuously create and innovate, they will be underprepared for the challenges of society and the workforce.

Successful individuals are those who have creative skills to produce a vision for how they intend to make the world a better place for everyone; analytical intellectual skills to assess their vision and those of others; practical intellectual skills to carry out their vision and persuade people of its value; and wisdom to ensure that their vision is not a selfish one.