What is Unlearning LO9974

Frank Billot (fbillot@avignon.mm-soft.fr)
Sun, 15 Sep 1996 01:22:37 +0200

Replying to LO9864 --


I appreciate your remarks, yet I like Prasad's posting, this is how I
envision non-linearity :-)

>... Also I don't see the purpose of 'emptying the cup'
>if we aren't going to "fill it up again"?=20

When I first used this metaphor, I did not mean to be literal as to imply
replacing one thing by another one. I rather thought of giving space so as
to let new stuff come up. Not necessarily stuff of the same level; I was
thinking of letting room for higher order understanding. In fact, I
realize now, that the first gain I am seeking here is in the meta process
of letting room, allowing space. This process I call "meta" because it
does not have to be related to the contents, rather to our relation to

I am somehow searching a generic tool for opening, broadening
mindsets/worldviews. And it does not relate that much with learning to
swin, to ride a bicycle, to do something. Learning skills is related to
abilities, know-how. What I am concerned with is related to learning how
to discover; how to appreciate the unknown, the meaningless, the
uncertain, the new; think the unthinkable. It has to do with a vision of
life in which abundance could prevail... It has more to do with knowledge
or wisdom learning than with habit-learning (cf LO9829)

>Firstly, you stated that "unlearning is about moving away from something
rather than moving towards something". I'm not clear how one can move
away from something without also moving towards something else at the same
time. Using your example from Indian Mythology if I may; when we "move
away" from one form of bondage are we not also simultaneously moving
towards freedom (or perhaps towards another from of bondage)?

I relate with Prasad's idea, IMO it should not be taken too literal. The
gain is not to shift from something to something else, even if in practice
it may be used in the process of adaptation. The important point to me is
that one may leave the clinging to "something", thus gaining this meta
position toward mental models, beliefs and so forth. Then the gain is
mental "equipment" that, for example, allows us to hold something and its
contrary, going beyond duality, linearity, reductionism.

>Finally, I'm unclear of the connection between the learning of a new skill
>such as riding a bicycle with the unlearning of a previously habitual
>skill, mental construct etc.

Here I must say learning a skill and managing a mental construct does not
seem to pertain to the same level of ability. (btw what's the use of
unlearning a skill, whereas gaining power over mental construct makes
sense for me)

>In my experience with children, when we are replacing a dysfunctional
>habit, mental construct or cognitive or physical skill we don't remove the
>old and leave a vacuum of some sort. We don't have students "forget" how
>to ride the bicycle completely and then begin again, we modify
>problematic, automated patterns of movement, shaping them to more
>appropriate ones. While I can see how the focus could shift between one
>or the other (removing the old or building the new) I'm not sure how you
>can only do the first and then the second.

As with dysfunctional habits, my experience is that we can act in two
fashions. One is to operate on the behaviour, offering new choices so that
a new neurologic "track" may replace the former (think of the rain
streaming over the road). Another is to replace the belief that compulses
the behaviour by a more favourable one. Note that the first way results in
the second by action, and the reverse for the second somehow.

Frank Billot

L'exp=E9rience, ce n'est pas ce qui arrive =E0 l'individu.
C'est ce que l'individu fait de ce qui lui arrive.=20

Experience is not what happens to an individual.=20
It is what the individual makes of what happens to him.
Aldous Huxley


Frank Billot <fbillot@avignon.mm-soft.fr>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>