Jack Uldrich
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Unlearning School

Posted in Education, General, Intelligence

Unlearn-week-header The title of this post is purposely intended as a double entendre. It could be read as we must "unlearn many of the things we learned in school" (which is true) or it might also be reading as a noun — as in society needs a school of unlearning.

As I have been developing my business plan for my new company, The Unlearning Curve, I have also been toying around with the idea of starting an unlearning camp for both children and adults. In a sense the camp might also be considered a school, although I have purposely shied away from that term because of all the baggage — both positive and negative — it denotes. 

If I was going to start a school of unlearning one thing I would consider unlearning is the concept of grading. It is not that I don't believe in the concept of demonstrating mastery, it is just that I believe an overemphasis on grades distracts students from the higher purpose of seeking knowledge. (See Unlearning Intelligence: Why You Shouldn't Tell Your Kid that He or She is Smart.)

If, however, a student or parent demanded a grading system, I might make a "B" the highest grade. Why? Because an "A" would imply that the student had mastered unlearning — which I don't believe is possible. What we don't know will always be greater than what we do know, and by not awarding an "A" it might remind the student to have some intellectual humility

Alternatively, I might flip the grading process on its head and make the grade of "F" the highest possible grade. Why? Because unlearning is more about dropping things than obtaining things.

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One thought on “Unlearning School”

  1. Thanks Jack.
    So what would be the structure of the school / camp? Do you have a framework for unlearning?
    (Thats how I came across your blog in the first place – while I was researching unlearning frameworks for a personal project of mine.
    Have been researching a bit on everything from Eastern religions to Parelli horse training programs (where for the 1st month they teach you how to unlearn the habits you have picked up riding horses) to cult deprogramming to interventions.
    My framework – rudimentary as it is – is:
    1. Cross the mental barrier – agree that unlearning is possible and indeed beneficial for that particular cause / topic.
    2. Spend time away – doing nothing.
    3. Hold intervention type brainstorming sessions.
    4. Learn the right code / algorithm for the cause / topic. And expect to get worse before you get a lot better.
    Would love to know what your framework for unlearning is.)

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