The 21st Century Skills (4C's)
Taught in School Today

image describing 4c's as 21st Century Skills
The 4C's of the 21st Century Classroom

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 4 C’s of 21st century 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.

What are the 4 C's of 21st Century Skills?

1. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is one of the major 4 C’s of 21st century skills and the key to solving problems.   C

What are the 4 C's of 21st Century Skills?
Critical Thinking image

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.

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 and our second of the 4 C’s of 21st century skills. 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 as a “you have it or you don’t” quality, students can actually 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.

What are the 4 C's of 21st Century Skills?
What are the 4 C's of 21st Century Skills?

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 creativity 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 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, a valuable  21st Century asset known as “Teamwork”.

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 use to collaborate. As the world goes more interconnected, 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 others 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. Students must learn how to convey ideas among different personality types effectively. 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, and 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

Why are 21st century skills important?

The 4 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 convey ideas efficiently.

Combined, the 4 C’s of 21st century skills empower students to become one-person think tanks. Then, when those students get together, they can achieve almost anything! For more information on the 4C’s of education, you can visit EdTech and discover its focus on education article at this link