Go Forth, and Unlearn

Photo CC by Mani Babbar Photography

It’s been a little while since the beginning.

And so, here we are, at an end of sorts.

I have these last few days until my courses actually come to an end, until I graduate. These last few days until this blog ceases to be a blog for a class….and becomes, hopefully, something that grows into something of its own.

I’ve learned a lot this semester, and I’ve also unlearned a lot. I set out to engage in a challenge of my perspective, and ended up noticing a good number of things I need to unlearn: unhealthy habits that’ll impede my full potential if left unchecked.

When we think about learning, we often think of something new, something that we learn from scratch. That, or building upon preexisting thoughts and concepts. And, certainly, learning is those things.

But learning is also tearing down the old, dismantling that which is clunky and rusted and ill-suited.

And it’s not just about that, it’s also reinventing; learning is constant movement. To innovate something means to spin it, to improve upon it; it means to employ a new perspective.

What does that require? Outside of access to resources, I’d argue: willingness.

In his post, “The Steep ‘Unlearning Curve’” Will Richardson writes,

There is no curriculum for unlearning, and, of course, in many ways it’s simply learning to see things differently or to at least be open to it.

While it wasn’t an entirely new idea to me, the idea that learning is a continual, life-long process really took root in my mind this semester. It’s an encourage principle to live by, especially since I’m stepping out of the halls of academia and into some brave, new world. There’s no stopping point. There’s no finish line. And that can be overwhelming, and challenging. But it’s also exciting.

George Couros, in his post “The Mindset of an Innovator” offers a multi-part pledge of being an innovator, and a few of them in particular stood out to me:

I build upon what I already know, but I do not limit myself to myself. I’m open to and willing to embrace new learning, while continuously asking questions to move forward.

I listen and learn from different perspectives, because I know we are much better together than we could ever be alone. I can learn from anyone and any situation.

I actively reflect on my learning, as I know looking back is crucial to moving forward.

It’s a pledge, in essence, to never stop learning. To never stop questioning and self-reflecting; it’s a pledge to never stop growing. It also highlights something I was more conscious of this semester: the importance of community and of networking. I’m a quiet, solitary type, but this semester I engaged a little more, and that’s important because the thing about learning that I’m unlearning — and will be unlearning for quite a while, I suspect — is that it’s not something that you do alone. Learning happens best in a community, where one can encounter new perspectives and share one’s own perspective.

Everything that exists is a learning experience, for good, for ill, for fun or for practicality.

Technology will continue to change and evolve; it will continue to renovate our lives in new and previously un-imagined ways. It will bring us closer together, and there will be new realms to navigate. New forms of expression to experiment with. New ways of communicating and reaching out to each other.

What a time to be alive.


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