The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. - Alvin Toffler
Alvin, talked about three big aspects of the 21st century illiterate and I agree with all three.
Today I want to focus on just one of them: Unlearning
Among all three, unlearning is the hardest and here is why 👇
- Your brain cannot erase something. It can only rewrite on top of it 🤷♀️ It is like repainting a wall that is already painted. The best way to repaint is by stripping the old paint, prepare the surface for repainting and then painting it. 70% effort goes into stripping the old paint and 30% into repainting it newly.
All learnings are encoded deeply in our brain and erasing takes a lot of time and effort. Rewriting means deliberate effort. This is why unlearning is uncomfortable.
- Unlearning is hard on our brains because it works against the default nature of a human being. We are all about addition. We love to acquire and hoard things, knowledge, people and more. We hate subtraction. We are not great at letting things go. Unlearning is all about letting things go and it is against the fundamental human nature. No wonder we struggle with unlearning.
- Our cognitive biases, our fallacies and our distortions are not as bad as it sounds in English language. They are there to help our survival as human beings.
Dan Kanehman wrote a big book on this. The gist is: Our system one (fast) thinking protects us and helps us survive. We can't be slow in thinking when a tiger is in front of us. If we are slow then we will not exist. But we don't have tigers around us all the time. Sometimes we need to think deeply. You can't be fast when you are investing a million dollars in trading stocks. It needs slow, deliberate, analytical and consciously effortful mode of reasoning about the markets. In a nutshell, to go past system one thinking, a deliberate effort is put by system two (slow) thinking.
Unlearning needs that deliberate effort of slowing down and activating system two thinking. This is hard for our brains as it struggles between survival and growth.
In a nutshell, unlearning is hard on irrational beings and human beings are irrational. The struggle is real. We have specific ways of unlearning and would love to share the specifics tomorrow.
🥂 to unlearning!
P.S: This week on 18 Feb 2022 6:30PM IST we have a Demo Day by our Digital Product Design Intensive Cohort. We spent 70% of energies in unlearning and only 30% in learning. It was fascinating to see how we struggle with letting go, swiping it clean and looking at things with a whole new perspective.
It is real effort. Our students went through intensive training in learning, unlearning and relearning. It would be fun to have some of you in the event to witness the courage they showcase in creative problem solving of original problem statements they chose it from their lives.
If you feel like learning from their journey, here is a great opportunity: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/skarthi_design-productmanagement-dpdi-activity-6898940279228112896-nDC6
See ya, other side ❣️