As an educator, speaker, and presenter, I meet a lot of people who are passionate about society. I talk with folks who yearn for change, are eager for improvement and progress, and are riddled with struggles and obstacles. I am often asked questions like:

  • “How do you get your kids to do the things they do?”
  • “If you could give all incoming teachers advice what would you tell them?”
  • “What happened to make the incoming workforce struggle with communication and creativity?”

Or my favorite:

  • “What is missing in education?”

When you get enough questions like that, you start to really think about a solid answer. I started with a brain dump. I unloaded anything that my past experiences had taught me. I used my existing philosophy and views on education and child development to lead the way. I got intentional and purposeful with my thoughts and came up with ideas and possible reasons. Over time, I have developed a theory which continues to evolve, but remains a tangible answer to those burning questions. I call the answer, “The Missing C-Files.”

You see, for years, Educational decisions and philosophies have been centered around a very popular buzz phrase, “The 4 C’s of the 21st Century Learner.”

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

Years ago, when this phrase first crossed my radar, I found the ideas very powerful. I believed they could be used as a framework for updating all levels of educational philosophy. I believed they could aid in much needed educational reform. To this day, I feel these ideas need to be a focal point in the development of young learners. However, as the time has passed, and our “New 21st Century” is in its 18th year, I’ve noticed that there are a collection of C’s that got the short end of the stick. I call them “The Missing C’s.” These C’s are my answer to those questions I so frequently get asked, and these are at the heart of my personal philosophy on education. My goal is for anyone that works with this amazing natural resource called humans, whether they be students, employees, patients, colleagues, friends, etc., to find the value in working to cultivate these Missing C’s so that one’s true potential and growth becomes more obtainable.

Now I don’t want to make any assumptions about what any of us know or do not know about the 4 C’s of the 21st Century learner. Before I elaborate on the C’s that are missing, let’s establish common ground and make sure we all understand the current definition of the 4 C’s of the 21st Century:

  • Communication — Sharing thoughts, questions, ideas, and solutions
  • Collaboration — Working together to reach a goal — putting talent, expertise, and smarts to work
  • Critical Thinking — Looking at problems in a new way, linking learning across subjects and disciplines
  • Creativity — Trying new approaches to get things done equals innovation and invention

See what I mean?! These are truly valuable and necessary “Super Skills.” If every student, employee, and earthling could possess these skills, they would be set-up to be true game changers with whatever tasks and issues confronted them. Sadly, there is not a magic wand that will deliver this skill set to kiddos or adults and they’re not necessarily teachable skills when taught in isolation. This is a case of putting the cart before the horse. We can’t just say, “OK, let’s critically think and be good communicators today.” We don’t tell 4th graders they need to know Algebra II and just give them an Algebra II textbook! We build up the necessary background knowledge and skills so they are equipped once they finally enter that Algebra II classroom. We must equip our students in that same manner to succeed with the 4 C’s. We must be intentional in acquiring these skills. We must step back and take inventory of what is needed and what is not working. We must build the foundation that makes space for the 4 C’s grow.

So, we need to discuss what is missing. We need to cultivate the growth of this space. It’s time to get intentional with preparing our schools, businesses, and society to grow and explore potential. I invite you to join me in this movement. This is the start of a blog series called The Missing C-Files. In upcoming posts, I will introduce each of the “Missing C-Files” one at a time because each one deserves discussion and debate. I want this to be a conversation. Challenge yourself, other readers, and me to push beyond what is the norm. Please add comments and ask questions. I greatly value the rewards from taking risks and having an open dialogue. Let’s grow together as educators, leaders, and world changers. Next up, we will start with one of the most important C’s and what I feel is the true key to growth and greatness.


See you soon!

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