Should the 4 Cs of 21st century skills make room for one more?
- Shuchi Grover, a consultant and former senior research scientist at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, writes for EdSurge that the "4 Cs of 21st Century Skills — which include critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication — should be expanded to include a fifth "C" in the form of computational thinking.
- Computational thinking involves being able to solve problems logically and algorithmically, including with tools that create models and data visualization, even if not every student is intended to become a computer scientist.
- Computational thinking, Grover writes, can be applied across subjects beyond STEM, including language arts and social sciences, via activities that require students to identify patterns in sentence structure and grammar or to use simulations to study relationships.
Grover isn't the first person to suggest computational thinking as a necessity in modern curricula. Though skillsets like coding tend to get the most attention, CT is arguably more important as an extension of critical thinking skills. And many activities that utilize it are already occurring in classrooms whether it's recognized as such or not.
Perhaps the most important thing is helping students connect the dots and identify actions they already take that utilize these concepts. For example, a student who might be particularly skilled in music but falling behind in math may be able to approach the latter subject more effectively if a clear line drawn between the two makes them think about math in a new way. Students might also not realize they're actively utilizing critical thinking when playing some video or board games. Learning doesn't exist in neat silos in the real world, and the sooner students are brought to that realization, the better.
Likewise, computer science lessons must go beyond coding to include the computational thinking skills that broaden students' problem-solving, logical deduction and precise thinking toolboxes.
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