I’m addicted to podcasts. They are my friend on long commutes and I’ve learned so much about so many random topics from Mars exploration to discoveries deep in the ocean. Every one of them leaves me curious and eager to learn more.
One of my favorites is How I Built This, with Guy Raz. Because I’m an educator, I lose myself for miles listening to stories about the masterminds who had an idea they took all the way to a successful business.
How did they do it? Why did they persist when others gave up? These entrepreneurs are usually no different from you or me. But what they all have in common is creativity, strong critical thinking skills, collaborative work environments, and excellent communication skills – the 4Cs, as we educators call them.
I wish I could ask them about their experiences in school. Was there one teacher? One lesson? One administrator? Or was it a combination of things? I would start by asking Jen Rubio and Stacy Brown what school was like for them because they persisted through so many obstacles along the way when most of us in that same situation would have given up.
Jen Rubio couldn’t find luggage that lasted through her long travels overseas so she created a better brand that in 2019 was valued at $1.4 billion. It wasn’t easy though – she felt hopeless when the first prototype of her product came off the line all wrong.
Stacy Brown was going through a divorce with three young children when she decided to take her chicken salad recipe to market, creating Chicken Salad Chick, now a $75 million business. It wasn’t easy for her either. She was shut down by the FDA, friends told her to get “a real job,” and she lost her 2nd husband and business partner to cancer during her journey.
Most of us will never create a new product, much less sell a business for millions, but the workforce skills these entrepreneurs have, the 4Cs, are critical for any career path we choose. And there are things educators can do right now to support and strengthen the 4Cs in the classroom:
Encourage kids to be active and to socialize. Recess is important because it stimulates our brain and makes us open to new ideas.
Encourage both written and oral communication throughout the day. Eliminate “Silent Lunch” from your behavior management plan. Talking during “down times” gives kids an opportunity to practice this essential life skill.
Embrace the benefits of doodling and encourage kids to add ideas to brainstorming walls or bullet journals.
Organize desks and tables in a way that encourages discussion and shared technology. Plan for more group work and less individual worksheets. In fact, sit or lie on the floor.
When you embrace and support the 4Cs on your program or classroom, you inspire lifelong learners who may one day take big risks to change the world.
For breakfast, I had a banana and a handful of mixed nuts.