Hope you enjoy this article on learning – just in time for the semester exams!
Many people have heard of the 4 stages of learning – if you haven’t here’s a precis from Wikkipedia:
1. Unconscious Incompetence : The individual neither understands nor knows how to do something, nor recognizes the deficit, nor has a desire to address it. (We don’t know what we don’t know).
2. Conscious Incompetence : Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, without yet addressing it. (We know we don’t know but we aren’t ready to address it yet).
3. Conscious Competence : The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires a great deal of consciousness or concentration. (You are beginning to be able to do it but it is not yet easy).
4. Unconscious Competence : The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it becomes “second nature” and can be performed easily (often without concentrating too deeply). He or she may or may not be able teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned. (It is now easy and maybe you can even teach others).
I invite you to think about anything you have learnt in your life you will see you went through each of these stages. For example remember learning to drive: At first you thought once you turned 17 it would be easy – jump in, release the brake and go. You didn’t know what you didn’t know.
Then you turned 17 and tried to do just that – you then realised that it took a little more skill than you expected. You then knew that you didn’t know how to drive and started to think about how you would learn.
Next you started to learn how to do it. Put the keys in the ignition, look in the mirror, take off the clutch….. it was hard work until finally it became such second nature that these days you sometimes wonder how you got home – Right?
(If you don’t drive I am sure you can relate this model to something else you once had no idea how to do but now do with ease.)
So this is all very well if (a) you want to learn that skill and (b) you feel reasonably confident about being able to learn it.
But what happens when you are stressed or have a history of difficulty learning something new – or just plain old hate new things?