The School social The School Socil
Alvin Toffler, Book Future shock

Unlearning is the new Learning!

In order to make way for fresh learning, unlearning is a mechanism that enables us to learn from a past experience or pattern. It is vital to let go of outdated operating systems and practises in order to make room for new ones if we are to keep up with the changes taking place in all areas of life.

Rohit Menon

How To

   

The simplest way of describing unlearning would be to say to let go of what we know in order to make space for new things.
As futurist  Alvin Toffler mentioned in his book Future shock, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” While learning is an important part of who we are, who we become and who we were, it is unlearning which will help us adapt to the future!

 The times are changing and rapidly at that too, and in these quick changing times, information and methods to process information have increased a great deal. Therefore bombarding the individual with all sorts of knowledge. While knowledge is good and very much needed, too much of anything is bad. It would be a wise call to know what sorts of knowledge is needed and what is not and to retain just that.

Another reason why unlearning is important is that it fills the gaps of what was unknown while you first learned to do something. For example, let’s say your math teacher in middle school taught you to do something in a particular way. Once you reached high school, you had something to do with a simple topic but had to dig deeper into it. The best way to go about it would be to let go of what you already know and to relearn everything from scratch! And in doing so, you would’ve learnt something or understood something better that you hadn't previously done!

Learning in itself is something that comes naturally to human beings as flying does to birds. And in an era where almost everyone is carrying a device that is connected to a satellite which can impart knowledge in a fraction of a second, It would be futile to not use this opportunity in the pursuit of knowledge.

While that is so, we can only learn and evolve if we are open minded and willing to let go of anything that might be holding us back whether this is an old experience, habit, or method. This does not mean that we forget and get rid of old knowledge, but instead, adopt new ideas, approaches, and skills.

With the ongoing pandemic, society has been forced to adapt to newer ways of going about their lives, schools have taken their classes online, most professionals have taken up working from home and people are learning to grow vegetables and fruits themselves! This is a classic example of how mankind has unlearned what they knew to give way to newer, better and adaptable ways of doing things.

To put it into simple words, all learning is just unlearning! It may seem counter-intuitive, but the goal is to not be deliberate about unlearning. All you have to do is to replace the old with the new, and the unlearning will happen all by itself!


Here’s a scenario for you to consider — you want to overcome the habit of drinking coffee. Instead of obsessing over the act of giving up on the habit of drinking coffee, focus all your attention on drinking water. Do that each time you think of getting that cup of coffee. Slowly, you’ll find yourself thinking of the water, more, and less of the coffee! It’s really that simple. A free, open mind and a commitment to the new is all it takes to unlearn and relearn.

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