At North Rowan High School, our faculty and staff have identified the 4Cs (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity) as core components that we want our students to have upon graduation. These core components are essential to preparing them for a future in which we cannot accurately predict the types of jobs that they will encounter over the course of their lifetime. Additionally, much research has been conducted to determine the skills and competencies that employers will value in employees. According to research conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, these are several of the core competencies that employers want in hiring potential employees. The 4Cs are often referred to as the “soft skills” in that they are not official standards taught in the North Carolina Essential Standards or Common Core Standards. Upon inspection though, most managers would agree that these skills and competencies are what they value in employees.
At North Rowan High School, our design courses are centered around helping our students further develop and expand the 4Cs so they are work force ready upon graduation. In our paradigm of change, we view the 4Cs as the necessary skills for our students to be able to exhibit after graduation. But like any good skill, practice is needed so that our students become better. During the various challenges that ours students undertake, they are constantly evaluated on some combination, if not all, of the 4Cs. Students are encouraged to apply them at various times throughout their challenge and to be able to provide evidence of growth in the 4Cs.
Evaluating the growth in each of the 4Cs is very challenging. It often involves measuring something that is not very measurable. In fact, we often struggle with developing metrics to measure many of the 4Cs. We are finding that many researchers are struggling with some of these same challenges. Imagine trying to determine how to measure creativity with 150 students? This can be challenging. To better assist, we are evaluating different pieces of research and anecdotal evidence to develop rubrics that specifically gauge how our students are doing in developing these skills. Our work is challenging and it is not always perfect. Sometimes we fail miserably. But that is okay as it demonstrates the importance of prototyping since we often learn more from failure anyway. In the end, we know that our work is important as it has the power to change our students and their trajectories. Additionally, any opportunities that we can provide our students to further develop their skills and aptitudes in the 4Cs will pay dividends at some point in their future. As we continue to evaluate and reposition ourselves to better serve our students, we continue to be excited about the opportunity to more fully prepare our students for a future that no one can predict. While we value the learning standards that we are charged with in educating our students, we must remember the implied curriculum standards such as the 4Cs since they will serve students well in the future.
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The ideas shared here are my own and do not necessarily represent my employers, associations, or organizations. These thoughts are entirely my own.