Unlearning LO24225

From: Artur F. Silva (artsilva@mail.eunet.pt)
Date: 03/21/00

Replying to LO24214 --

Hello Rick and all lo-learners:

Replying to LO24214

At 21:58 20-03-2000 -0500, Richard Karash wrote:

>The "unlearning" idea has never seemed right to me. Now, I think I see the
>crux of the problem.

I have been following this thread with interest. One of the reasons is
because I always thought that "unlearning" is a crucial step to learning;
so "teach how to unlearn" is crucial in teaching, as it is in OD.

In different terms: "the unlearning idea has always seemed right to me".
This formulation can be matched with Rick's one (above). The thing that
become clear is that we are both stating a belief (contradictory beliefs
indeed). Please note that before I would say that "I know that unlearning
is a crucial step in learning"...

And a lot of questions arise: what is a belief? What is knowledge? Is my
"knowledge" independent from my beliefs? Or my knowledge is created around
my beliefs, in a certain way to justify them?

Then Rick continues:
>If "learning" is having a certain belief or coming into the habit of a
>certain behavior, then I agree that we may have to "unlearn" in order to
>make progress.
>But, I use "knowledge" as the capacity for effective action and "learning"
>as increasing knowledge, that is, increasing capacity.
>So, in my use of the terms, we build on old learning, and don't unlearn.

I think that Rick has stated his definitions of knowledge and learning
some time ago and I agreed with the definitions, then. But, in this new
context, I see those definitions in a different way.

If knowledge is the capacity for effective action how do we know that an
action is "effective"? And what about an action that was effective in the
past, but is no longer effective?

If we consider scientific knowledge, Khun showed us that the major
developments in science have not been cumulative, but implied "scientific
revolutions". And that the majority of the scientists that have learnt
(and practised) the "old theory", normally are not able to change to the
new one, but ultimately they will die, and the new ones will learn the new

We can always argue, like Khun did, that Newtonian physicists were "wrong"
and had a "wrong knowledge" (or no knowledge at all). Nevertheless life
would have been easier for them if they were able to "unlearn" the wrong
"knowledge" (even if it was very effective for small speeds...).

Sorry, I really have no "knowledge" to convey in this message; only some
thoughts (and some beliefs) and I would appreciate your comments.




"Artur F. Silva" <artsilva@mail.eunet.pt>

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