How Do You Teach the 4Cs to Students (Part - 1) - Creativity and Innovation

There has been a lot of talk about 21st century skills for learning which are required for progressive learning in modern ways. The essence of these skills includes Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication and Collaboration, which are often referred to as the 4Cs of learning.

These skills help develop the qualities that the students need to possess in the 21st-century for success in college, careers and citizenship. Today’s students are moving beyond the basics and embracing the 4Cs that are the super skills for the 21st century. The first of the 4Cs is Creativity and Innovation which implies trying new approaches to get things done which equals innovation and invention. The second is Critical Thinking and Problem Solving which focuses on looking at problems in new ways and linking learning across subjects and disciplines. The third is Communication through which thoughts, questions, ideas and solutions are shared. The last of the 4Cs is Collaboration which is a process of working together to reach a goal by putting talent and expertise to work.

This article is first of the series of four articles about teaching the 4Cs to students, starting with Creativity and Innovation. This part discusses about the significance of Creativity and Innovation and how they can be taught to the students. Innovative capacity and creative spirit are increasingly becoming the requirements for personal and professional success. Creativity expert, Sir Ken Robinson in his famous talk about creativity has discussed its significance and asserts that creativity should be given equal status as literacy in schools and that most schools are damaging their students’ capacity for creative thinking. It is essential to learn by making mistakes and being wrong, for if we’re not prepared to falter and be wrong then we can’t come up with anything original and schools should not always be focused on being right.

Teaching creativity and innovation is not about free, open-ended and unstructured time, it is about creating a structure that allows students to gather up as much knowledge, skills and understanding as they can before letting them take off in their own direction. To teach students Creativity and Innovation;

  • The curriculum must integrate different techniques such as brainstorming, group work, etc., which encourage creative thinking and innovation and must feature Art and other subjects where creativity is the core element.
  • Student feedback must be sought in a variety of ways on a range of issues.
  • Students must be encouraged to assess the curriculum and provide a critique about it.

  • Students should be provided with a learning environment that is safe for experimentation.
  • The learning environment must encourage engagement of all in the learning process, not only students but also teachers who should be seen as learners and as facilitators of learning rather than mere providers of knowledge.
  • Students should be encouraged to develop real solutions to real needs in real time.
  • Time slots for creative learning should be provided in the daily school timetable but not as rigid boxes of time may become constraints.
  • Pedagogical approaches that encourage choice and diversity in learning should be implemented.
  • Students should be set free to take risks with their learning. They should be motivated to celebrate wrong answers, to work on finding the correct ones with their experience.
  • Open-ended projects should be encouraged so that students are able to pursue their passions.
  • Learning Music should be promoted as it is considered as an outlet for creativity.
  • Use creativity tools like playful games and visual exercises that can be easily used in the classroom to stimulate creativity and innovation.
  • Teach concepts and ideas to foster deep understanding and to overcome the fact-based and rote-oriented nature of standardized curriculum.
  • Reward discovery as innovation is highly discouraged by the system of assessment, which rewards the mastery of known information.

Students should be taught to tap into their creative potentials. Every student has inborn creativity but is creative in different ways and different domains. Helping students discover their unique creativities and learning, and how to apply that creative diversity to solve real-world problems should be the key goal.

Watch out for the next article of this series that will discuss about the second of the 4Cs, that is Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving. Share your views about teaching Creativity and Innovation in the 21st Century. The Comment Box awaits you.


About the Author
Author: Saomya Saxena
Educational technology blogger, loves to research and write about tools and tips for educators on how to integrate technology into everyday instruction creatively and effectively. Fond of reading and writing.

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