Do we unlearn or relearn?
Muse #214 - patterns that never go away
Quick. Can we unsee anything that we have seen? Probably not. So, how can one unlearn anything? Or relearn? Probably not too. Today’s quote is from Alvin Toffler, something that I feel is not fully reflective of how humans work.
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 (b.1928)
The dictionary defines “unlearning” as discarding learnings. So perhaps this is about making deliberate choices to not use one’s learning in favor of something else. And, “relearning” is actually easier. It is learning something once again that one had learned before. Learning the same thing again.
We learn in patterns through our senses. And whatever patterns we are exposed to stay for life. However, we are more oriented towards patterns that we are repeatedly exposed to and less to patterns that we are occasionally exposed unless some of the patterns caused trauma so it stays fresh in our memory without going away. That is why anything that we practice improves and without practice, we become “rusty” with that memory, and such patterns fade to the background.
So, the point is very simple. We are learning beings. What is called unlearning and relearning are only prioritization of exposure to things that we do more often. Anf from our learnings choosing to prioritize what to use and what to not use (knowingly or unknowingly). With the rest taking a back seat. And we are also connected learners. We build upon the patterns that we have learned before and evolve new patterns in conjunction with what we already know as we learn new things. So patterns of learning continuously evolve.
One thing that I agree with is Alvin though. If we are to be truly in the 21st-century one go to constantly be learning to be ahead of the curve.
To 1st Jan 2050: 11,359 days to go.