Learn-ing To Unlearn
The 19th century American humourist Mark Twain (1835-1910) quipped, I’ve never let my school interfere with my education.
And, the 20th century American futurist Alvin Toffler (1928-2016) wrote, The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. [underline added]
Why Learn-ing To Unlearn?
Have you ever read something or heard someone say something you knew was simply un-true? Yet they knew what they knew.
Have you ever written or said something you later changed your mind about because you came to know it was also un-true? Maybe you changed your mind yet again, based on even greater understanding. Unlearning is essential to learning as not everything we think we know is actually true.
Remain Willing & Eager To Un-learn
All formal education institutions teach what they suppose to be true based on the accumulated knowledge of those who have gone before. Libraries are full of the stuff! But all too often we are not being taught the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth because it isn't known at the time. We are simply being taught the consensus of what learning institutions want us to know.
The journey of 'unlearning-to-learn' commences when we start to sincerely question what we have been taught. And, if you doubt this is a legitimate pursuit to greater knowledge, consider that it is only for the past 300-years we have known the earth is not at the centre of the universe. Unlearning leads to discovery!
The Habit Of Unlearning-To-Learn
A habit is something we action automatically and is for the most part performed unconsciously. We learn to move, say and do something having done it the first time ~ by trial and error or under tuition ~ and then by repeating it again and again. Only good habits help us progress and suceed whilst poor habits maintain ignorance and want ~ the incorrect stuff we think we know that holds us back. Reflect on Mark Twain’s quip about education for a moment.
To know the absolute truth of something, we must constantly challenge what we think we know. We must persistently and politely ask questions of everything and everyone with an interest until we know what we know, what we know. We owe it to ourselves to maintain an enquiring mind or remain in ignorance ~ even deceived.
What we accomplish by this new behaviour is to make the old habit of accepting everything on face value ~ because the source is ‘impeccable’ ~ redundant. Think about the ‘science’ that placed the world at the centre of the universe.
The Shortcut To Unlearning
Unlearning-to-learn is one of the most critical skills to acquire in a rapidly accelerating 21st century world. Consider the apps, websites and technologies today that simply did not exist for the masses before the last 2-decades. No iPhones, no GPS, no Instagram, no Facebook and yet today all of these seem commonplace. We handle it all reasonably well - or we don't.
Unlearning-to-learn constantly recalibrates our moral compass to focus our mind on an expanding discussion, idea or action to determine error from truth, ignorance from correct knowledge.
For example, take the simple physical habit of replacing coffee with carob by steadily reducing the consumption of one in favour of the consumption of the other. All paradigm can be challenged/confirmed/unlearned/relearned in the same simple way. Just keep reviewing what you think you know using all available and reliable sources, expanding your mind based on greater and greater revealed truth.
With this approach of replacing old thinking using newly desired simple-steps, the process of unlearning-to-learn-and-relearn makes redundant the old habits that interfere with learning truth. You will kick the habit of excess caffeine faster by changing which drink you take. The choice of where to focus your attention and energy will affect the speed with which you will unlearn-to-learn-and-relearn.
Flood your mind with what you want to know, and you’ll get there quicker, enjoying the journey to truth along the way.
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Complicated Is Easy! Simple Is Hard!