Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Four Stages of Learning

By Michael Angier

Paul Zane Pilzer, a leading economist, predicts that nearly half of the jobs people will have in the next five years haven't even been invented yet. Today, over 90% of the jobs in the U.S. weren't in existence when most of us were born.

What that tells me is that understanding the learning process is a major key to our future success. There are four stages of learning anything.

* Unconscious Incompetence This is when you don't know that you don't know how to do something. For instance, a young child isn't aware that he doesn't know how to drive a car.

* Conscious Incompetence In the second stage, you become aware you don't know how to do something. You know that you don't know. This awareness is critical. Attempting to drive a car without knowing how to drive a car could prove fatal.

* Conscious Competence The third stage is when we know how to do something, but it requires we be very much aware of what we're doing.

To continue with our example, when you first learn how to drive a car, you must concentrate on blending the power, easing out the clutch, watching traffic and the many other skills that are part of operating an automobile.

* Unconscious Competence This is when you've reached a level of competency, which requires little or no thought. The skills are ingrained so deeply that you can talk, adjust the radio, open the window and think about your next presentation-all while orchestrating the direction, speed and performance of the car.

As we progress through the new millennium, being able to learn new skills and quickly access information will be critical to our success. Knowing how to learn will become one of our greatest assets.

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