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Two More Cs Please

We are nearly twenty percent into the 21st century, and unless you've been trapped under an enormous rock, you've likely come across information about the Four Cs. Designed as a guide to better prepare learners for a modern world, the Four Cs provide a concise framework for pushing modern learning opportunities into the classroom. This publication from the National Education Association speaks to the Four Cs in precise detail.



Taking a page from the ISTE standards for students, what if we shifted the focus of these descriptors from actions to learner dispositions? We would be fostering the development of skills students will need to be valued members of a global community. These learner dispositions include:
  1. Critical Thinker
  2. Communicator
  3. Collaborator
  4. Creator

While I heartily endorse the spirit of the Four Cs, I contend two dispositions are missing from this framework.
  1. Contributor
  2. Cultivator
As someone who is reluctantly neck-deep in my school and district's digital citizenship initiative, I've learned there are more impactful methods to helping young people create a positive digital footprint. My reluctance isn't that I see a lack of value to #DigCit education, I just view citizenship as a quiet, somewhat purposeless endeavor when compared to the benefits learners attain from contributing to the betterment of others through digital interaction, specifically, sharing what one has learned. 

Sharing knowledge reinforces, accelerates, and deepens learning. Contributing invites interaction and authentic forms of feedback. Russell Ackoff, challenging the typical, classroom system, asks, "Who learns the most in a traditional classroom?" He answers, "the teacher." Ackoff, an expert in the field of systems effectiveness, adds,

"The way students should learn is by teaching others." 

In other words, becoming a contributor. This strategy effectively builds purpose into the student's academic activities.

Credit Audrey Watters with exposing me to the innovative concept, "Domain of One's Own". What happens when we provide each student with a web domain, their own digital learning place? Cultivation. Students analyze, compare, self-assess, publish, reflect and revise their digital contributions. They "make" and share something previously nonexistent. Students develop modern literacies and digital fluency. They, as Ackoff suggests, become teachers. With paper resumes losing ground to digital portfolios, citizenship, most often presented as a series of scare tactics, "don't do this, you must not do that," is an example of trying to get the wrong thing right. The more correct thing is sharing learning through contribution and cultivation.

How do we feel when we are contributors? How do others feel? What skills and motivations go into cultivation? Care, responsibility, and attention. I appreciate the concise direction the Four Cs provide. My "Two Cs" add agency and interdependence to this modern learning framework. Make something and share it. Is there a more straightforward, purpose-filled learning system than this?

What descriptive words form your bullet points for revising our narrative about schools and the role they play in education?

photo credit: Ib Aarmo Studying at the library via photopin (license)

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