In education, the 6 Cs (once the 4 Cs) of 21st century learning have become integral guideposts in shifting learning experiences to be of the highest relevance to students today. If you’re not familiar, the 6 Cs are critical thinking and problem-solving, collaboration, communication, creativity, citizenship, and character education. As a professional, I have used these skills daily not only in my current career as an educator, but also in my former career in sales. Educators sometimes have a reputation for being out-of-touch with the needs of businesses and industries and championing buzz-word practices with short-lived flames, but these 6 skills are highly relevant for all people to have inside and outside the workplace. In the demands of each day, we sometimes forget that we aren’t just teaching future workers; we’re educating people who are or will be our neighbors, volunteers, friends, and leaders.
While I certainly want my students to understand content, be contributing members of society, and become successful practitioners in their respective fields, I also want for them to be fulfilled in their lives, feel a strong sense of purpose, and be good to others. That’s why I’m proposing we add two more Cs: consistency and courage.
In life, being consistent about saving money can greatly impact your financial stability and future goals, and devoting regular time for yourself for quiet reflection or exercise can be hugely beneficial for your mental and physical health. We crave relationships with people we know we can count on to celebrate our successes or walk with us when we make a mistake, suffer a setback, or lose someone we love. It takes consistency to show up or rise above when it might be easier not to.
As a professional, revising, iterating, and seeing something through even when it’s difficult are skills all people need. Even disruptors practice consistency in their lives. To quote George Couros, there is a lot of “work behind the work” that the outside world doesn’t often see. That’s why seeing something through becomes so important. Sometimes we give up on good ideas because they aren’t initially successful or the outcomes aren’t ones we can see right away. And sometimes the true value isn’t in whether or not an outcome is successful; it’s the learning that takes place in the process of figuring that out that leads us to a future success.
To stand up, speak up, or try something new takes a lot of courage.
In a recent late night appearance, actor Jim Parsons talked about his newest show, Young Sheldon. He almost didn’t pitch the show at all because it was such a simple idea that he was sure someone else must have already thought it up and ruled it out.
But simple doesn’t always mean obvious, and sometimes a problem has been around so long and seems so complicated that we don’t even see the simple beginnings to a solution. Sometimes our ideas seem so impossible to realize, but when we are brave enough to overcome the fear of rejection or failure, someone else might help us light the way or see the path forward. Without courage, great social movements, innovations, and ventures don’t happen. Without courage, there is no growth, no change, no improvement.
Learning, growing, and living
Having courage and practicing consistency are characteristics we can encourage in our students by intentionally providing opportunities for them to experience both. We can do this pretty easily by embedding these into experiences that already incorporate the original 6 Cs and where students have to develop their own ideas, iterate, and share with wider audiences. When we allow them to become comfortable with the discomfort often felt in pushing through difficulties or being brave, we help them navigate the now and prepare for a fulfilled and purposeful life.