More on 21st-century skill sets | Inquirer Opinion
The Learning curve

More on 21st-century skill sets

/ 03:38 AM February 11, 2017

My column “From the ‘3Rs’ to the ‘4Cs’” (1/28/17) triggered a lively scholarly exchange among readers.

“Islasolo” commented: “The difficulty with the 4Cs (critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity) is that you cannot just teach them in a purely classroom setting. These are skills [students acquire] as they grow and learn, interact with their environment, and how that environment is supportive to the development of these skills. Proper parenting is very important in developing the 4Cs.”


He added: “Most families are ruled by an autocratic parent or both who do not allow open and honest conversations. The same with the dominant religion that purports to have all the answers and does not allow dissent or open discussions. So how do we expect our children and grandchildren to learn the 4Cs if we don’t allow them to speak their minds?”

Islasolo thus suggested: “Activities within and outside the school should encourage the practice of the 4Cs. Team work shall be the norm. Older students should be tasked to mentor the younger student [to] develop responsibility and cooperation. Students should be encouraged to express their ideas and … teachers [should] understand how and why these ideas are formed in the students’ mind.”


He wondered if we have “a deliberate strategy and programs as a nation on how to develop the 4Cs for everyone, not just the students.”

Islasolo might be pleased to know that both the K-to-12 program and the Higher Education Reform Agenda call for heightened community engagement.

“Roger Reyes” pointed out that by definition, creativity makes teaching it a very difficult task to tackle: “Creativity can be defined as our ability to perceive and respond to stimuli in a new way. Teaching creativity therefore involves both cognitive and affective learning processes. Learning has a lot to do with one’s natural endowments—what brain God has given, how it is wired, and where it can be applied most. For example, not everyone is endowed with the mind of a musician.”

Another reader, “WisdomoftheWise,” wrote: “The best thing a teacher can do for their students is to encourage them, believe in them, and have higher expectations of the students than the students may have of themselves.”

“Rosaddiaq” cited a large-scale study from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that favors active/dynamic teaching methods over lectures to enable students to acquire critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.

The 4Cs, however, are just the beginning.

In its 2011 report titled “Crosswalk of 21st Century Skills,” Hanover Research based in Washington, DC, analyzed the list of 21st-century skill sets from six major educational frameworks—the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Tony Wagner’s Global Achievement Gap Seven Survival Skills, enGauge, Iowa Essential Concepts and Skills—21st Century Skills, Connecticut Department of Education’s 21st Century Skills, and the Microsoft/Cisco-sponsored Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills or ATC21S.


The six frameworks listed a total of 13 themes, with four skill sets common to all. Not surprisingly, these are: 1) collaboration and teamwork, 2) creativity  nd imagination, 3) critical thinking, and 4) problem solving.

The report likewise saw a definite trend toward emphasizing the global community, from civic literacy and citizenship and global and cultural awareness to social responsibility. It said: “Another up and coming skill is the ability to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability—an outcome of living in a fast-paced, digital environment in which information and situations change rapidly. These skills, along with initiative, another skill present on four of the lists, aim to teach students to not only recognize the fast pace of the digital world but also to take it upon themselves to seek out the new and innovative. Entrepreneurship also falls into this general theme.”

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Butch Hernandez ([email protected] is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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TAGS: Butch Hernandez, collaboration, Communication, Creativity, critical thinking, Eggie Apostol Foundation, Inquirer column, Inquirer columnist, Inquirer Opinion, The Learning Curve
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