Unlearning LO24229

From: ceo@work911.com
Date: 03/22/00

Replying to LO24225 --

On 21 Mar 00, at 19:43, Artur F. Silva 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.

I've gotten lost re: who said what but here's a few takes on the
unlearning thing. While it pops up over time, the real core issue here is
definitional. If someone goes from "knowing A" to "knowing B" (lets say
going from the earth is flat to the earth is round), have they unlearned
A, and learned B anew?

Or did they learn B as something new but not unlearn A?

I'm not sure it matters. Maybe it does, and I'd love to hear people
discuss the practical implications of the terms.

In psychology, there is the concept of "unfreezing" which I think is a
better one. (sorry I can't recall the originator). The theory goes that in
order to learn a new thing when there is a pre-existing contradictory
thing, there must be an unfreezing of the original learning, an opening

The analogy is if you want to modify the shape of ice completely, you must
first melt it, then reform it in a new mold.

On to Richard:

> 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.

Clarification. Learning isn't normally though of as HAVING a belief, but
the process of acquiring. It's the process of acquiring behavior
capabilities and potential. Maybe my point is semantic here.

In fact, come to think of it, developing a belief isn't really learning
either. It's operating cognitively and affectively on knowledge to draw
some general conclusion.

In any event, I don't think this skein can be easily unravelled without
going through a whole discussion of all the definitions.

> >But, I use "knowledge" as the capacity for effective action and
> >"learning" as increasing knowledge, that is, increasing capacity.

One problem is that many of our definitions are arbitrary. So then you
have to go to what constitutes a good definition. That, in fact, was THE
core issue regarding the emergence of behavioral approaches a la BF
Skinner. Skinner was largely misunderstood, because his major contribution
was the suggestion that we could define "learning" in a specific, concrete
and measurable way.

But, then many disagree(d) with his narrow definitions, which in terms of
LO's, is unpalatable and perhaps quite useless. In other contexts, such as
treatments of phobias, it has been quite powerful.

BTW, this may come from a new address...it's Robert Bacal at this end.

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