Why 4D Teaching?
What should students learn, for a century brimming with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity?
We address this question as the fundamental one of our times. There is no issue so large—climate change, inequities and injustice, artificial intelligence—that a new generation of empowered thinkers can’t solve.
To educate a “whole child for a whole world”, the Center for Curriculum Redesign has defined the necessary four dimensions of a modern education as Knowledge, Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning as depicted in this graphic.
What is a 4D Teacher?
Difficult times call for innovative solutions. We are facing one of the most challenging times that we have ever known in the education profession. Our belief is that a teacher who has mastered these four dimensions – a 4D teacher – will be better prepared to face the challenges of educating today’s students, and tomorrow’s citizens and workforce.
Based on extensive research, described below, we have developed a series of professional learning courses based on the 4 dimensions of teaching. In our view, a 4D teacher is one who can seamlessly incorporate the SEL and “21st-century skills” defined through this research through their academic content teaching.
Through our professional learning program, teachers are guided through an introduction to the competencies, and then dig deeper into each of the three areas of Skills, Character, and Meta-Learning. Our assumption is that teachers who choose to take on this rigorous work are already experts in their academic discipline or content area. As teachers progress through the courses, they earn certificates or badges that lead to a final micro-credential as a 4D teacher. 4D teachers know how to teach students the life skills that they will need to succeed as they teach academic content.
Research Base for 4D Teaching
The Center for Curriculum Redesign (CCR) has spent nine years researching a set of twelve competencies for teaching. These competencies include social and emotional (SEL) skills, “21st-century skills (“4C’s”), and metacognitive learning. You can download a free copy of the book that this research generated here: http://bit.ly/4Dedupdf
This framework has been translated into 21 languages and the idea of 4D teaching has been endorsed by global organizations such as the OECD. Please view a short video by Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills at OECD, here.
In addition, CCR conducted two rounds of teacher-based studies over two years, with over 70 expert teachers from across the United States and its territories. This research has formed the basis of CCR’s development of professional learning to help teachers learn how to teach SEL and metacognitive learning skills not in isolation, but through their academic content.
One of the teachers in CCR’s study stated, “I realized that I actually do a lot of this work in my art classroom without purposefully planning to do so. And that if I took the time to sit and actually plan experiences and discussions around the interconnected work of the competencies and my content area- the learning could come alive in a meaningful way for my students.”
Below is a summary research progression that led to the development of CCR’s courses. You can read more about the full progression here.
Charles Fadel is a global education thought leader and author, futurist and inventor; founder and chairman of Center for Curriculum Redesign; project director Harvard GSE; member President’s Council at Olin College of Engineering; chair education committee at BIAC/OECD; co-author of “Artificial Intelligence in Education” (2019); “Four-Dimensional Education” (framework in 21 languages) and best-selling “21st Century Skills”; founder and president Fondation Helvetica Educatio (Geneva, Switzerland). Has worked with education systems and institutions in more than 30 countries. Spent 25 years in technology management (M/A-COM; Analog Devices); founder of Neurodyne AI; formerly Global Education Lead at Cisco Systems, visiting scholar at MIT ESG and Wharton/Penn CLO, angel investor with Beacon Angels. BSEE, MBA, seven patents.
Professional Learning Team
Katherine Bassett, Director of Partnerships and Professional Learning
Throughout her career, Katherine has advocated for students to receive the highest quality of education regardless of their zip code or family circumstances. She has championed the strengthening of the teaching profession and the inclusion of educator voices in every aspect of education policy formation and implementation. She is an experienced developer of professional learning and is the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year 2000.
Peggy Stewart, Master Trainer
Peggy is the 2005 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year, a Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teacher, a National Board Certified Teacher, and a learning consultant for FEA (Foundation for Educational Administration, which is the Professional Learning Division of NJPSA. She has extensive experience in designing and facilitating professional learning. Peggy served as Chair of the New Jersey Professional Teaching Standards Board and is currently on the Board of Trustees for Learning Forward New Jersey.