THE FOUR STAGES OF LEARNING
Learning occurs in four stages - THE FOUR STAGES OF LEARNING. We can liken the process to learning to driving a car.
The first stage is unconscious incompetence. In this stage we are oblivious even to what there is to learn, like a helpless child. We do not know how to accomplish a task, and are not even aware that the task exists. We have not even considered our car driving skills yet, so we do not even think about the process of driving.
The second stage is conscious incompetence. Here, we are aware of what we have to learn, but do not yet have any of those skills, like the child watching adults walking and wondering how they do it. With the car, we are suddenly aware that we wish to drive, and we study other drivers - we know that we want to drive, but we no not yet have the capability to do so.
The third stage is conscious competence. Here, we are learning the process but are still new to it - like the child taking their first few faltering steps. And now, after our driving lessons, we can drive the car, but we have to continually think and look to see if we are in the right gear.
The fourth stage is unconscious competence. We have learnt the process so well that we don’t even have to think about it - we do it unconsciously. Like the child that walks and runs. And we can drive and change gear automatically, without even thinking about gear-changing.
It’s very useful to have unconscious competence. Have you ever noticed when you have taken a well known journey, driving or by public transport, when your mind has been occupied with other things? You arrive at your destination suddenly realising that you can’t remember a thing about getting there. “How did I get here?” You’ve been on auto-pilot. You know the process so well that your unconscious mind has taken it over while you have been busy with something else. You are unconsciously competent in this skill.
This is a mechanism by which we are all able to do more...