How do people learn? LO LO9943 ("")
Wed, 11 Sep 1996 15:13:13 +0000

Prasad wrote -

> How do we unlearn?
> You could say that to learn how to swim, you should get into the
> water. To learn how to play piano, you should take lessons and listen
> to music and practice on the piano. But to unlearn, there is no one
> way. Of course, it requires a strong intention to begin with and then
> we have to let go of the intention itself.

Prasad gave three very lucid examples and ended with -

> What we already know gets in the way of what we want to learn. When we
> unlearn, we generate anew rather than reformulate the same old stuff.
> Creativity and innovation bubble up during the process of unlearning.
> This is not mere modification or restructuring of old material; once
> we remove our blinders, the world becomes quite different, with new
> possibilities and innovative approaches to situations that previously
> seemed stale or difficult. If we wish to blossom, we should remember
> that a seed will only germinate if it ceases to be a seed.

I would like to congratulate Prasad for having brought this thread to a
higher level of understanding through specificity.

My view of this process is that we are attempting to use our conscious
brain to reprogram a subconscious (SC) brain program. Our SC brain is
capable of great speed and accuracy and can carry out a program
independently of our conscious brain. Besides, the conscious brain is not
fast enough to control our body for high jumping or for driving race cars
and a myriad of other things. In addition, the SC programs relieve the C
brain from having to control repetitive functions so that it can
concentrate on something else.

In this model, the SC brain detects a situation for which it has a program
and will often execute that program on its own. The common term for this
is "behavior" or Prasad's "mental models". We develop behavior at a very
young age, some of it very dysfunctional such as racist behavior or that
of Tania in Prasad's story. Some of this behavior is of flying an airplane
which is only a problem when trying to learn how to fly a glider as in
Prasad's second story.

I have participated in many behavioral changes and Prasad's action is
right on the mark. Here is one story.

George was a very skilled nuclear reactor operator who was beating his two
children, ages 2 and 4. He would become very morose about two days after
such an event and it was starting to affect his work. The shrinks
hospitalized him on two occasions for a couple of weeks and pronounced him
cured each time. Shrinks concentrate on making us understand "why" and not
on Prasad's action.

After another beating, a higher level boss became aware of the problem,
interviewed George and developed an action plan. George always remembered
starting to get mad at his children, but soon lost all control and started
beating them. George made a list of all the reasons he should not be
beating his children and one of reasons that justified beating them. A
discussion eliminated all justifications and expanded the list of reasons
why not to do so. This list was placed in short form on a 3x5 card which
George was to carry always when at home. Then a map of streets around
George's home was used to plot a very simple walking course of at least
two hour's duration. The action was for George to leave the house
immediately on starting to feel mad at his kids, start walking the course
and review in detail and think about the items on the 3x5 card. George was
to think that he was a good person who had some dysfunctional behavior
that he was in the process of changing.

George was seen at least twice a week to help him with his action plan and
to maintain his morale. After about six months, George came to this boss
and broke down crying with the report that he had gone home last night and
his kids had run out to meet him and hugged his legs. They had always run
and hid from him before so George knew that he had finally made the
change. Lots of happy crying at work to say nothing of his wife.

The 3x5 card process is a useful one to promote "self-talk" in order to
change dysfunctional behavior and reprogram our sub-conscious brain

Prasad, I really liked your analog about ceasing to be a seed. Thanks for
sharing your expertise.

Comments? Joan

Joan Pomo The Finest Tools for Managing People
Simonton Associates Based on the book "How to Unleash the Power of People"


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