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Enemies of Learning

·2 mins

The futurist Alvin Toffler famously said, “The illiterate of the future are not those who can’t read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” In their book Language and the Pursuit of Leadership Excellence, Chalmers Brothers and Vinay Kumar describe sixteen “enemies of learning.” These enemies include attitudes, assessments, and mindsets that, when firmly rooted, make learning or growth difficult.

Take a look at the list below and consider whether any of these describe you.

  • Unwillingness to admit “I don’t know”
  • When you don’t know that you don’t know, but you act as if you do
  • Being unaware that we live in blindness
  • “I should already know”
  • “I have to be clear about everything, all the time”
  • Forgetting the domain of emotions and its impact on learning
  • Distrust
  • Confusing “knowing” with having opinions or information
  • Addiction to novelty
  • Addiction to answers
  • Not granting permission to be taught
  • Making everything overly significant
  • Making everything trivial
  • Living in permanent assessments or judgments
  • Living in the belief “I cannot learn, given who I am”
  • Forgetting the body as a domain of learning

If you identified with a few of the items on the list, recognize that they are not hard-wired into your brain though it may seem like it. They can be unlearned and replaced.

Start by noticing when one of these enemies shows up in your thoughts. Becoming conscious of previously unconscious thoughts is the start of a new journey.

A Thought to Ponder #

When any real progress is made, we unlearn and learn anew what we thought we knew before.
—Henry David Thoreau

Something Delightful #

Comedian Ze Frank produces some of the funniest and weirdest nature videos on YouTube. One of his latest is about the camouflage and mimicry tricks used by animals in the rain forest.