Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Why do we not UNLEARN? How do we?

Today the world has started to look positive things in the most and best positions... automatically Learning has become so important... If you ask your team member on how are you doing, you will get an answer “I am learning, I am doing good” ask a new Joinee “I am learning” ask someone who has taken a new role “I am learning”... learning has become important really important.

We cannot think ourselves without learning. The moment you tell your boss that you are not learning anything.. your boss thinks that you are on your way out. The moment you feel that you are not learning anything ... you start looking out. Learning has taken so much of an important place in our lives. In process we have forgotten the important step of unlearning. So before I begin my post... let me share why we need to unlearn..

Imagine.... The first vehicle on earth, if the design was not unlearnt we would have never being able to produce what we have now... people argue that we have evolved, we have learnt.. But the answer is we unlearnt a few things and then learnt the others to reach here... If you read through the History of cars ... you would agree with me. We learnt that wind driven vehicle works.. Then we unlearnt it and tested that vehicles work faster on steam and then fuel and then solar and then bio powers...

Now how do we really learn?


1. Construction – Our knowledge comes over with time and ways of interactions, we learn on our own, reciting and forcing doesn’t work in learning. It is always constructive.

2. Questions - they challenge us. We learn through the questions. When someone asks us a question we have to find an answer, in process we learn. When we ask a question we get an answer we learn.

3. Our mental modes – They adapt to it slowly, we cannot learn swimming in a day.. Our mind needs to accept it, same way flying, programming etc etc.

4. We care – We learn because we care about the questions and we follow.. Imagine if you had a question in mind which never got answered.. If you choose to ignore it, you never learn.

So... the learning that we had from all these hard steps is not going to change so easily... Heard of a chain smoker wanting to quit smoking? Well the fact is not that he / she is addicted the fact is that he / she is not able to unlearn. So here are my few tips on how to unlearn, I am not sure if it will help you... but why not try??

How do we Unlearn?


1. Create an Intention

The most important event in the steps to unlearning is the intention. You would need to know what you need to unlearn... many of us don’t figure this out and thus continue with what we have learnt (Good or Bad). If you have a strong intention in unlearning, chances are you will find a easy way out, what avoids us from having this intention is the convenience...

Strong Intention
Max was a serial developer, he had learnt his way writing C programs. His luck was amazing his Boss saw his hard work and moved him to a dream project working on Java... He had to unlearn his knowledge on C and learn Java way of programming, after all his career was at stake.

Weak Intention

Max uses JBuilder a very strong IDE / RAD tool, drag and drop and your code is ready... company decided to move its technology to some other language which works best in Emacs, but Max can do the same with Jbuilder and is easy for him. He loses the benefits Emacs provides in his intention to continue using Jbuilder... Intention is weak, though the need is strong.

2. Define a method (s)

If you have an intention, you definitely need a very strong definition of methods to unlearn. Not one, not just one. A method is very important in process of unlearning. If you have a set of method or methods you can choose and start working on the one that attracts you the most.

Method 1 - Max decides to move to Emacs, intention now strong. He decides that he would write the smaller programs in Emacs and one that he is comfortable with in Other tool. Then he would move to using emacs for day to day activities while he keeps on using the other tool. Then he would move to write all the programs in Emacs.
Method 2 – He would move to a machine that only holds emacs.
Method 3 – He would use something that is like his tool but resembles Emacs. The he would switch to Emacs.

Wow... so Max has defined all the methods he can try to unlearn the tool and learn emacs?

3. Practice

Now it is important for Max to pick up one of his methods and start working on it. Practice makes man perfect. If you don’t practice unlearning every day you would never learn to unlearn. Max would spend 5 hours of his day on Emacs and remaining on something that looks like emacs. Practice more and he would soon get there.

4. Concentrate

This is a key element. Concentrate and focus on what you have to unlearn and not what you have to learn in this phase. With the amount of concentration and dedication towards this goal you would be able to achieve this. It is possible that your hard core learnings will not allow you to concentrate.. but you have to.

Max decided to go for a Coffee break every time he had a strong urge to switch to the other tool. He would take a cigarette break, switch off his machine. He found a way to not allow his concentration break. He wrote scripts over emacs that will help him do some basic stuff quickly. In your process to unlearn your concentration is the fuel.

5. Switch

You may be bored by your methods.. you may still have the concentration in unlearning things... when you start feeling bored, you switch the method and begin again. Multiple switches will help you learn the new thing, which is a result of you unlearning something.

Now its time to relearn....

Easy said then done... but if you desire to unlearn....... this is just going to be easy as Hell ;) All the best in your unlearnings. After my blog on Team learnings I have decided to put what I have unlearnt in all these years and relearnt... watch the space..