STUDYING to LEARNING, 3Rs to 4Cs

Nitin Sharma
Nitin Sharma
27 Aug, 21 · 5 min read
STUDYING to LEARNING, 3Rs to 4Cs

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Alvin Toffler
We, as parents and educators, often wonder what this new 21st century education is trying to accomplish or provide that we didn’t have back when we studied in school. Primarily, because as we reflect, we realise that we are doing fairly well in our life and careers to make the best of what we got in terms of school education. So what’s the noise about !

Deep down though, we can clearly see that our children are far ahead of us in the cognitive intake and receptivity of the information around them.

The centennials are digital natives who set their foot in the virtual world before they even learn to read and write. Probably to expect them to simply learn information in their 8 hr school curriculum is not a fair deal. More so, when they are innately enabled to grab any information at their fingertips 24/7.

So the call for action is needed in the way we approach education for the generation Y and the changing trends in the career pathways. Probably this is the reason why theories of education change to meet the new needs of each century learners.


Demystifying 3Rs & 4Cs.

Remember your school time when it was about learning to read well, writing in sparkling clean handwriting and cramming the tables by heart for fast calculations.

Well they were the three R’s of reading, writing and arithmetic laid down for us on our learning platter. Or we may say, we studied more than we learned.

It was more about leaning on the text books rather than pursuing areas of interest. So love for music, photography and sketching were considered extra-curricular activities i.e. they were not as valued as academics.

Try narrating this definition of school to a centennial and you will get back the response “I can do all this with the gadgets and search engine that are at my disposal! What is it then the school is offering me?”

Can’t agree more. “Why study when all can be read about on google.”

So the child of the 21st century doesn’t need information overload. Remember they are the digital natives with digital footprints !! Perhaps their digital trail is longer than yours! They are playing games online with partners from different corners of the world; watching Netflix to know about English and American classics ; using digital media and exchanging their opinions .

So are three R’s enough to fuel and engage these ultra curious 21st century sweethearts! We all know the answer! So there is an advent of 4 C’s.
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What do 4 C’s do???

Well 4 C’s are the skills that are at the core of our 21st century learners’ mindset. Their innate predisposition, knowledge and attitude craves to learn with the c’S of collaboration/ communication/critical thinking and creativity.

Only R’s (Reading , wRiting and aRithmetic) can not pique the interest of these curious cats. Their inquisitiveness to know themselves and others; investigate the why’s more than accepting facts impel them to question and inquire. They want to explore their interest areas and learn on their own. Compliance and a passive learning environment doesn’t stir their mind enough to retain what is being taught. What makes sense to them is when learning is inch closer to what they want to explore.

Learning landscape calls for the change!

Now it is no more about studying; it is about learning what interests you enough to seek information, gather knowledge and use skills (4 c’s) to make path breaking innovations; challenge the established norms/notions and theories ; pave the way for a creative outlook. I am sure it is hard for you to recall when you suggested a new app or game to your child. They have become our life savers for technology . Always one step ahead and that too without any formal training. Now does that ring bells with all that I told you about the mental makeup of centennials.
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Meeting the learners half way !

It becomes imperative for school/parents/educational organisations to bridge the R’s and 4C’s to give our learners not only the agency to choose but also the framework to accentuate their knowledge, sustain their passion, upskill them to apply their learning for larger good and global canvas.

Well this amalgamation is the ideal stance . Hence the gush of terms like Project based learning /Expeditionary learning/Inquiry based learning.

This could be overwhelming for parents but we need to understand some key elements that are gaining prominence in 21st century learning when compared with the conventional learning model.

So all research and latest pedagogy would insist on engagement and motivation of contemporary learners who can be future ready for global world.

The employability skills as listed by world economic forum (we can add the image of top 20 skills in 2015 and 2020 here) clearly signals the utter need for schools to groom learners who can use their skills to identify problem and collaborate with others to find solutions. This expectation is absolutely inverse of the general content and exam ready conventional model of teaching and learning practiced at schools.
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What’s the way forward?

As a parent of a 21 century learner , one needs to embrace their mental fashion and the natural predisposition ( how much opposite they could be from ours!) to allow them a learning environment that fits their orientation of interest and aptitude and to equip them with both skills and rigor .

The best we can do is to keep skill in the centre while looking for learning engagements through after school programmes that provide them the channel to develop their interests with the help of mentors. Remember the centennials need mentoring not content to polish their abilities and skills.Wear the hat of a centennial parent and probably you would be able to help your child find his/ her true North seamlessly without conflicts or chaos.

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.

John Dewey
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Nitin Sharma
Written by
Nitin Sharma
Digital Product Designer @Synchron. www.ferdicildiz.com

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