Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking
One of the main aims of the education system is preparing students to fill jobs in the workforce. That workforce has evolved greatly in the last few decades with the advent of the Digital Age. It has become much more technology-driven with a high demand for workers in fields related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Furthermore, all indications from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics are for continued rapid growth in the type and number of STEM-related jobs across various industries. In fact, the rate of employment growth in STEM occupations was double that of non-STEM fields between 2009-2015, and the trends don’t show signs of slowing.
Educators have taken note of this trend and its implications for the teaching-learning process. In 2002, the National Education Association (NEA), the United States Department of Education, and several high-ranking companies in the information and technology sector spearheaded the formation of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), a national advocacy organization that encourages the use of technology in education and provides tools and resources to support it.
Over the years, P21 has refined the list of desirable skills for the STEM-enabled workforce into what is now known as the 4 Cs: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. These skills work in tandem with the knowledge-based and technical skills children are taught, in order to foster deeper learning in all content areas.