21 st century skills: 6 C's of education

It all started with 4 C’s of the 21st – century education: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. These are the skills that many of you teachers are familiar with and already implementing them in your classrooms. However, this is not where C’s are ending. In his blog post, Brian S. Miller first introduced the world to the new, augmented concept – the 6 C’s of education. He suggested the concept after talking to his colleagues, listening to their suggestions, and studying materials of education leaders of today. In this post, we’ll take a look at this concept.

The Importance of 6 C’s of Education

Before digging deep in the concept, it’s important to highlight the value of these new educational skills. The key purpose of educational institutions is preparing children for their future jobs. However, the problem educational institutions are facing is that future of today’s children is so unpredictable. Jobs we can’t even imagine are created every day. Employers require creative and problem-solving skills and an ability to adapt to changes. Those new skills and abilities kids can’t polish by solving standardized tests. That’s why teachers need to foster new skills in the classroom- skills of 6 C’s education.

21st century skills: The 6 C's of Education
The 6 C’s of Education. Photo Credit: Michael Fullan & Sylvia Duckworth

6 C’s of Education

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the process of filtering, analyzing and questioning information/content found in various media, and then synthesizing it in a form that has a value to an individual. It allows students to make sense of the presented content and apply it to their daily lives.


Collaboration is a skill of utilizing various personalities, talents, and knowledge in a way to create a maximum outcome. The outcome must provide a benefit to the entire community or a group. Due to synergy, the common outcome has a greater value than a sum of values of each individual outcome. Check how you can sparkle collaboration in your classroom with few easy games.


Communication is a skill of presenting information in a clear, concise and meaningful way. It also designates careful listening and articulating thoughts. Communication has various purposes: informing, instructing, motivating, and persuading.


In the 21st century, an individual must be able to create something new or create something in a new way, utilizing the knowledge he has already acquired. It does not just signify art, but also various solutions to a problem in real life situations. In our last blog post, we have suggested few methods how to foster creativity in the math classroom.

Citizenship/ Culture

This is a part where various authors point out different skills. Miller states the culture as one of the pieces of 6 C’s, while Michael Fullan features citizenship. When we look closer, they are not so different, and actually, they go hand in hand with one another. It is important for an individual to be in touch with everything that surrounds him – both culture and community.

Character Education/ Connectivity

According to Miller, understanding the importance of human connectivity in the world filled with technology is a necessary skill to teach children. Fullan highlights character education as the last C. It includes school’s commitment to helping young people become responsible, caring, and contributing citizens.

How to Foster 6 C’s in your Classroom?

So, how can you implement 6C’c in your everyday curriculum? How can you inspire your students to start developing their creativity, communicative and critical skills? You can start by trying these few methods, and see how they work for you. Changing traditional teaching ways can be hard, but it’s rewarding to see how your students transform into scholars of the 21st century.

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Project Based Learning

Project-based learning is probably more closely associated with 21st-century learning skills than any other form of learning. According to Buck Institute for Education, project-based learning is “a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge“.

Within a project, students are involved with a meaningful real-life problem over a defined period of time. Students are required to find a solution to it through a process of asking questions, finding, analyzing and applying information and employing their creativity skills. Usually, the process also includes decision making, working in teams and reviewing for the sake of improving the final solution.

Project based learning: 6C's of education
Project-based learning. Photo Credit: zulama.com

Moving through the process, students develop skills that include problem-solving, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. It’s important to emphasize that the goal of a project-based learning is not solving the problem, but gaining aforementioned skills throughout the process of solving the problem. Teach Thought lists fifty ideas for projects you can try out in your classroom.

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Genius Hour

A Genius hour is another teaching method in the classrooms of the 21st century. The movement refers to a certain amount of time during class that teacher give to students to explore their passions. Genius hour originates in Google’s practice of giving the engineers 20% of their time to work on any project they want. The idea was simple – give people the freedom to do what they want and the productivity will go up. Since it worked pretty well for Google, why not try it in the classroom?

The crucial part of Genius hour is defining a fine line between helping students to focus on the problem and letting them explore the topic on their own. While it’s OK to guide them in the beginning, at some point you’ll have to let them work at their own pace and in their own style.

Principles of Genius Hour

According to Teach Thought, there are six principles of Genius HourSense of purpose refers to a purpose students find in the topic they choose to explore. Students Design their own learning methodology. Through Inquiry & Navigation students make sense of ideas important to them. At the end of the day, a Genius hour is all about Creating something out of the learning process – a new thought, idea or a project. Socialization refers to connections students make with teachers, peers, and members of a community to help them carry out their projects. Lastly, there is an 80/20 Rule which refers to a schedule of time within a curriculum divided between a traditional class and Genius Hour.

6 Principles of Genius Hour. Photo Credit: Teach Thought

While it’s not important to follow 80/20 rule, be sure to define a certain amount of time when your students will freely explore their passions. They’ll develop critical thinking skills while exploring the topic, creativity while expressing their new knowledge, and communication skills while highlighting the importance of the knowledge they’ve gained. If you’re looking for Genius hour ideas, there’s a Google + community discussing the topic and sharing experiences.


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Author: Dorotea Knezevic

Head of Marketing at AWW. Google certified specialist, content creator and social media enthusiast

  • mario0

    You have “It is important for an individual to be in touch with everything that surrounds him – both culture and community.” May I suggest in the 21st century, using gender neutral words instead of “him”.

  • Nida Büyüktokatlı

    when is this article written by Dorotea Knezevic?? Date ?

  • Dr.M.Doss, Pondicherry, India

    More skills are discussed extensively in the paper and every day new skills are being emerged or introduced. Nothing reaches in the Indian classrooms and students are mere rote learners.

  • Diego Ferreira

    I think this is really important.

  • Kelly

    According to the new kinds of teaching, and this new generation, the 6 C’s of Education, in my opnion is the best away to teach in 21st Century!!