A “21st Century Report Card”?

I just finished reading the article, A Plan For Raising Brilliant Kids, According to Science, from the NPR Ed website. It’s a summary of an interview with Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a developmental psychologist with Temple University and the Bookings Institution, and Professor Roberta Golinkoff from the University of Delaware. The pair have written a book titled Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children.

In the book, Pasek and Holinkoff propose a new model for educational assessment, which they call “the six Cs”: collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence. I don’t think they’re the first to propose these ideas as fundamental to modern education, but I do like the way they link all of them together. Here are the six Cs in the authors’ own words:

Hirsh-Pasek: The first, basic, most core is collaboration. Collaboration is everything from getting along with others to controlling your impulses so you can not kick someone else off the swing. It’s building a community and experiencing diversity and culture. Everything we do, in the classroom or at home, has to be built on that foundation.

Communication comes next, because you can’t communicate if you have no one to communicate with. This includes speaking, writing, reading and that all-but-lost art of listening.

Content is built on communication. You can’t learn anything if you haven’t learned how to understand language, or to read.

Critical thinking relies on content, because you can’t navigate masses of information if you have nothing to navigate to.

Creative innovation requires knowing something. You can’t just be a monkey throwing paint on a canvas. It’s the 10,000-hour rule: You need to know something well enough to make something new.

And finally, confidence: You have to have the confidence to take safe risks.

Just to be clear: I’m not endorsing the book (I haven’t even read it myself). I was simply struck by how different these ideas are from the way most schools, and many of us teachers, measure students’ achievements and progress. In my experience, all Cs but the content have been relegated to secondary status on report cards, lumped together in a general “effort” or “approaches to learning” category.

Happy learning!

Mr K

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