The 6 Cs of Education and Play

By Kevin Campbell Davidson Guest Blogger for Children Inspired by Yoga With a  professional background in multi-disciplinary artistic performance, Keven adopts a playful and creative approach to generate collaboration and community, growth and wellbeing. Kevin will be sharing his knowledge at our 2020 Children Inspired by Yoga Conference in March.


What are the 6 Cs of education?

There are many discussions in education around how to prepare our children for an uncertain future. There are now jobs which we couldn’t have imagined a few years ago. In response, Dr. Michael Fullan (2014) proposes we need to empower our children with six key capacities which will allow them flourish in a rapidly changing world. Happily these traits all begin with the letter C and I would like to group the 6 Cs of education into three sets of two.

  • Collaboration and Communication. These are two sides of the same coin of connectivity. They are mutually reinforcing and each flourishes in the others company
  • Creativity and Critical Thinking. Essentially, these are opposites. Creativity is all about reaching out and opening up your mind to possibility, critical thinking is about sifting through details and drawing distinctions
  • Character Development and Citizenship. These are about engaging ethically with the world at the individual and collective levels. Our education systems need to nurture good character traits such honestly, fairness, perseverance and resilience, raising global citizens with an appreciation of human and environmental sustainability.


Importance of play for developing the 6 Cs of education

Anyone who regularly sees young children at play will know it’s incredibly rich with learning. From Frobelien Kindergartens to Montessorian nurseries, from Piaget and Vygotsky to Ken Robinson, there are countless theories, books and academic papers which proclaim the importance of play for developing the 6Cs of education. Most recently TV programmes like ‘The Secret Life of 4 year olds’ have shown the huge value of free play in early childhood.

As children enter primary school we need to continue to provide opportunities for children to play. We can meet children’s increased capacity for goal-oriented tasks with more structured playful activities, fertile environments for the 6 Cs of education to flourish.


Hand clapping for the 6 Cs of education

I believe every child should have a go at the humble hand clapping game. Hand clapping has been around for generations, as far back as 1698 according to the folklorists Iona and Peter Opie. More recently, cognitive scientist Dr. Idit suggests children are naturally drawn to hand clapping between the ages of 5 – 10 years, because these games ‘serve as a developmental platform to enhance children’s needs – emotional, sociological, physiological and cognitive’.

  • Hand clapping games give chances for Collaboration and Communication

    • All players work together towards the same goal
    • Everyone benefits when any of the players improves, this means we’re inclined to help each other out during the tricky bits. As we offer help, we use language explaining as clearly as we can how we think it needs to be
    • We learn to be patient and listen to what our partner has to say
    • There’s loads of nonverbal communication going on as well; laughter, squeals of frustration, celebration and regular moments of eye contact. See our post on beat competency for more on movement and communication
    • When we change partners we notice different qualities through the tactile sense in our hands. Some people have a soft and gentle touch, others are firmer and more confident. Some hands glide elegantly through the air like a bird, whilst others are swift and flicker like fire
    • Consciously or unconsciously, we respond to the differences and adapt our own style to make it work. It’s an embodied experience of diversity, laying the foundations for aspects of good character such as tolerance, empathy and compassion



  • Hand clapping games give chances Creativity and Critical Thinking

    • Hand clapping games are challenging. Recent research highlights a close relationship between physical coordination and cognitive development As we hand clap, we often have to remember a sequence of movements, do different things with different parts of our bodies at the same time, and hold our focus on the words of a verse or song. These cognitive abilities nurtured by movement form the basis for higher-level critical thinking, such as problem-solving.
    • When you present hand-clapping games to children they rarely stay the same for long. The playground becomes a hive of innovation. Children change the words of the song to make it funny or to incorporate a rude or popular word, they may sing a different song or parody the original. As a group they may take a game designed for pairs, and adapt it so the whole gang can do it together. Younger children start copying and the games spread throughout the school and beyond, like the recent international phenomenons of gangnam style and flossing.
  • Hand clapping games give chances for Character Development and Citizenship

    • These games become embedded within the school community culture with the children at the driving edge. It’s exciting when someone comes up with a new move or a new word. The children gain a lived experience of what it feels like to be an active citizen and make a difference to the world around them.


Clapping and snapping as crocodiles in a Children Inspired by Yoga Tatty Bumpkin session

The 6 Cs of education and the doing

A danger of new frameworks like the 6 Cs is that they end up being presented to children on PowerPoint slides or on worksheets with instructions to “Write down the 5 key points of how to collaborate effectively”.

Children love to move and play. I would suggest a better approach to nurturing the 6 Cs is to give children the chance to DO. Hand-clapping games encourage children to collaborate and communicate, they involve patterns, sequences and distinctions of thinking and can be wildly creative, unconstrained by the classroom and the sorts of things that the teacher had in mind. Children can experience what difference feels like and see  how community emerges from this diversity.

Let’s have a round of applause for hand clapping games in the 21st century!


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