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Ben Michaelis, Ph.D.

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The Three Rs vs. the Three Cs -- or Is It the Five Cs?

Posted: 09/12/2012 11:07 am

We all know the three Rs of Education are not cutting it anymore. It's not even a debate. The only question left to ponder is what to do about it.

In a recent article, I suggested spending less (but not no) time on the Three Rs and more of our education dollars and our children's mindshare on the three Cs (Creativity, Confidence, and Character). I think these qualities, especially creativity, are the foundation for success and joy. The reason I put this out there is that we have no idea what the future holds for us or our children and so we should consider new tools that will allow them to adapt to an everchanging intellectual, economic, and technological landscape. The article caused a ruckus on both sides of the aisle, which is great. I'd rather stir the pot than avoid the kitchen altogether.

It's not whether or not the three Rs are relevant anymore. They are still relevant -- they are just not enough. When we focus all of our energies on drilling fact-based knowledge we bulk up on one set of skills, often at the expense of other, arguably more important ones. If we want our children to have happy and balanced lives we must lead the way with how we think about what they are exposed to during their school days. It is not about jettisoning the basics of education, but supplementing them with life skills that our kids will be able to hold on to long after they have forgotten about Pip and Miss Havisham (yes, I still remember them -- but mainly because I was allowed to make a film about Great Expectations in high school instead of handing in yet another 1-3-1 essay).

After having digested the wonderful feedback that I received I want to suggest that the three Cs become the five Cs.

The fourth C, suggested by fellow HuffPost blogger Blair Forlaw is Communication. As Blair suggested, and I quote:

To do well in the global community in which they live, young people (and adults, for that matter) must know how to communicate well -- especially with people who think, look, talk, and experience the world differently from them. This means knowing how to listen, consider, respond, find common ground, and articulate respectfully.

I could not agree more nor could I have said it better (so I didn't even try to).

Finally, I would like to add Critical Thinking. One of the main reasons that forums like the Huffington Post are so useful is that they promote dialogue (like the one started by this article). It is this exchange of ideas that allows for people to evolve and improve. If we can teach our children to be respectful critical thinkers we will truly have done them a service to prepare them for the uncertain landscape that lies before them (and us).

Let's keep the dialogue going!

Here's to a great school year filled with the three Rs, the five cs and one capital J (Joy) for all.

 

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