From the 3Rs to the 7Cs of Education

As I mentioned a few posts back, I’m working on a short essay about the future of Universities in Australia. One thing I stumbled upon whilst researching this was the 4Cs of learning (Critical thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity). I’m proposing that we build upon this list and set off toward the distant horizon on the 7 Cs; Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Curiosity, Character and Compassion. (It’s been suggested by Mark – thank you Mark – that I add Citizenship and possibly Systems Thinking, but I think Citizenship is part of Compassion and Systems spelt with a C seems a bit odd to me (but he’s right).

The first 4Cs are self-explanatory. We (society) need people to think critically and creatively about the world’s biggest challenges and communicate and collaborate across communities and geographies to come up with solutions. But the last 3Cs are especially important.

The aim of education generally should be to instil a lifelong love of learning and this is becoming especially vital in a world where new knowledge is being created at an exponential rate. But how can we expect people to continually re-learn things without first instilling a sense of Curiosity about how things work or how things might be changed for the better?

Character is important for two reasons. First, as machines become more adept at doing the things that were once thought the preserve of humans, the value of emotionally-based work should come to the fore. Most jobs feature people at some level and if you are trying to persuade others to do something (especially something they don’t want to do) you’re more likely to be successful if you are liked.

An attractive personality cannot be taught, but it can be encouraged. Moral character is equally important. As I’ve already said, we don’t just want smart graduates, we want ethically grounded ones too.


Image from my map of trends and technologies. Full image here.

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