In the field of Education, there is a popular idea that focuses on the 4 C’s of the 21st Century Learner:
- Communication — Sharing thoughts, questions, ideas, and solutions
- Collaboration — Working together to reach a goal — putting talent, expertise, and smarts to work
- Critical Thinking — Looking at problems in a new way, linking learning across subjects and disciplines
- Creativity — Trying new approaches to get things done equals innovation and invention
I thoroughly believe in the importance of the 4 C’s of a 21st Century Learner. As a matter of fact, I believe they are crucial to improving the development of our future leaders. However, there are two more Cs that students must possess in order to truly practice the 4 C’s at a level that approaches their potential. Those Cs are CONFIDENCE and CHARACTER.
Let’s talk about confidence first. It is not a word to take lightly. It is not a word to simply lump in with character development. It is not a word that we can simply say you are either born with or without. It is a word that Education can build its foundation upon. It is a word that every other attribute must stem from in order to truly be ingrained in a person’s character.
Confidence and Collaboration:
Without confidence, the student will be timid and will not take the risk to speak his or her mind while collaborating with peers. They will be afraid of presenting an idea that might fail. A confident student will be steadfast in their ideas and contributions. Confidence breeds the ability to take risks in collaborative settings.
Confidence and Communication:
The ability to effectively engage an audience requires a high level of confidence. A student who lacks confidence when trying to communicate will speak lightly, slouch and look down, shuffle and fidget, and their message will be lost. Confidence generates the courage within you to raise your head and straighten your posture. Confidence bridges the gap between your spoken word and your body language.
Confidence and Critical Thinking:
In order to think critically you must first believe that you have the ability to do so. You must also be willing to risk saying or doing something that is against the norm in order to find the outcome that is needed. Critical thinking requires trying things that may fail and learning from those experiences to continue to think critically. A confident person understands the value of failure as a lesson and they can truly embrace the struggle.
Confidence and Creativity:
Creativity stems from the open mindedness of trying new and different approaches. It takes confidence to venture into uncharted territories and explore the unknown. Confidence is a catalyst for exploration and the ability to explore is crucial to creativity’s existence.
Confidence is the foundation and the tool belt. Since it is so important and valuable, we need to be intentional about developing it and pushing it to grow. We need to drastically shift our thinking in the field of human growth. We need to shift our priorities around Confidence.
If we continue to send young adults into the workplace unequipped for the pace of this ever-changing world, we are doing them a huge disservice. We need to cultivate innovative leaders who will ultimately shape our future. The shift to confidence must strive to send innovators into the world. Innovators are born from kids that possess the 4 C’s and that development starts with confidence!
For building confidence in kids, and you develop an environment where taking risks is applauded, you create a classroom where kids find value in tackling obstacles and struggle. Kids start coming to school with a confidence that makes them eager for new challenges! From the moment our students reach our classrooms, let’s teach them to seek the best version of themselves. Teach them to be confident and value taking risks to conquer obstacles. Teach confidence and then teach the 4 C’s.
Confidence is the most valuable C. It allows potential in every other C to rise. Let’s shift our mindsets to bring developing confidence to the forefront.
Now let’s talk about the most important C – CHARACTER. Consider the saying, “Our children are the future.” If this is true, we may be headed for a crisis. In today’s unapologetically celebrity-obsessed culture, disrespectfulness, defiance, and rejection of common courtesy have become the norm. Kids are growing up in a world of Facebook, TikTok , YouTube, and Reality TV, where it is acceptable and almost expected to be rude and self-promoting. Contemporary pop culture is increasingly leaving no room for strong character, people skills and the development of self-confidence in our children.
Self-Confidence is the most important trait but originated with Good Character. Character, Love and affection from family members play a vital role in a child’s development of self-confidence, it is only a foundation on which children’s confidence can grow. Kids need additional skills to aid them in social situations where they may feel uncomfortable.
People skills and a strong character are basic assets that we often take for granted. Yet, a recent study by BOOSTKIDS showed that the ability to communicate properly accounts for 75 percent of an individual’s career success. Clearly we need to place a greater emphasis on people skills and character development when our children are young. The ability to greet people properly, look people in the eye and use a firm handshake are basic people skills. Listening well and asking informed questions are abilities children can learn to become successful in life. Although we should not diminish the importance of reading and grasping basic math skills, a high percent of adulthood success is based on how well a person can interact and communicate with others.
Character development deals with developing a child’s personal integrity and internal compass of acceptable behavior. Being honest, resisting peer pressure and respecting others all relate to character development. Some children may appear supremely confident, but they lack the strong character necessary to resist temptation and peer pressure. Not having a strong character ends up limiting the depth of such children’s interpersonal relationships, and potentially limits their future successes.
No Child Left Behind means well to force schools in Pakistan to advance children in basic skills, such as math and science. At the same time, however, most school programs should be dedicated to developing people skills and character. There are specific techniques you can teach your children at an early age to enhance confidence and people skills. Get your kids on track with these simple basics and they will thank you later!
Greeting People. We meet and greet people every day. Teach your kids how to do it properly. When you see an acquaintance, be the first to say “Assalam U Alaikum”. Show your children that by saying Assalam U Alaikum first and using the person’s name makes you appear confident and friendly, and that a firm handshake creates an instant bond and tells the other person that you are sincere, warm and pleased to see him or her. Young children may be uncomfortable making eye contact because they might be shy or feel vulnerable. Let your kids know that even if they are shy on the inside, making eye contact with someone they are talking to makes them appear confident. Looking someone in the eye makes the other person feel like the most important person to you at that moment.
The ability to ask thoughtful questions is one of the most vital skills you can teach your children. Thoughtful questions help portray children as interested in what others are saying, as well as help build children’s listening skills, which translates into an increased attention span and ability to retain information in the future.
Asking questions allows you to gather information while showing that you care what someone is telling you. As parents, the best way to stress this skill is to talk to your kids before approaching a social situation. For example, if you are on your way to a family reunion, tell the kids what is happening with members of the family. Give them specific questions to ask. These questions should be open-ended, requiring more than a simple “yes” or “no” response. Your family will be impressed that your children show such confidence.
Saying “Thank You” Properly. Saying “please” and “thank you” is something children are taught at a young age. But there is a difference between saying thank you with no emotion and saying it sincerely. Teach your kids that saying thank you with enthusiasm shows a person that you truly appreciate what he or she has done. Instead of a simple “thanks,” try saying “thank you for _______” with a lot of emotion and feeling behind it. The giver should then feel your sincerity.
Parents, stress these skills daily. Be aware of opportunities to build confidence, character and etiquette in your kids. When your child interacts with another person, emphasize the importance of people skills before and after the interaction. This will familiarize your child with the concept of good communication, and help your child remember to apply what he or she has learned about etiquette in different social situations.
Be a good role model. Kids notice how their parents conduct themselves in various situations. If you don’t show patience with a sales clerk, how can you expect your child to show patience with siblings? If you are having trouble relating to your children, perhaps introduce a third party. As kids— particularly teenagers— tend to tune out adult authority figures, a third party may help take a teen’s natural resistance off of a parent. Someone else advocating etiquette also reinforces what you are teaching and gives kids a chance to further learn these key skills.
Our fast-paced society is raising a generation of children who may lack the skills needed to feel good about themselves when confronted with challenges, hardship and competition. However, by teaching our kids how to be good people and fostering an environment where good communication skills are common practice, today’s children stand a greater chance to grow into adults who respect themselves and are respected by others— who set and accomplish goals and are comfortable with themselves.