The four phases of learning

Life long learning? I hate this expression but kind of expresses the importance of learning. Why? Because nowdays (especially on the field of IT) if you’re not progressing you’re regressing. There’s no middle way, no stagnation. Years are passing while you may be getting comfortable and years later you realize the job you used to be so good in changed in front of your eyes without noticing. To avoid such a situation we have to challange ourselves continuously, explore new technologies, scan for emerging trends and seize every chance to learn something new or deepen our knowledge.

Circle of learning


Learning has four phases which are so simple, so trivial and yet so many people still aren’t aware of their existance. If you’re conscious about them and you know which phase you are in you can maximize your results.

To introduce this I will driving as example.

1. Unaware unable

In this phase you don’t know that you’re unable to do it. You don’t know you can’t drive. Never tried never thought about it.

This is the most critical and most overlooked phase since you don’t know what you don’t know. An old sentecnce says “The wise man is the one who knows how much he doesn’t know”.

What to do in this phase? How to be aware?

Don’t fear feedbacks! Ask for it! Consciously seek for it! And be realistic …

2. Aware unable

Now you know you can’t drive. You know it’s hard. If you’re here half of the job is done. Really, it is!

What to do now? Investigate, ask questions, experiment and learn it. Don’t be afraid of failures. Fail fast, learn from it and move on!

“…, failure is also a necessary experience for growth in our own lives, for if we’re never tested to our limits, how will we know how strong we really are? How will we ever grow? ” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

3. Aware able

Now you finally learned how to clutch, shift, accelerate and everything. You still need to think about it but you know how to do it.

Practice, practice and practice until it becomes natural.

4. Unaware able

You arrived there. You know how and what to do without thinking about it. You may think this is the best place to be but actually this is almost as critical as the first one. This is where most of the people get comfortable and thinks he or she knows everything. But (getting back to the driving example) just because you can safely drive doesn’t mean you can drive 160km/h on massive snow, right? Can you drive a sport car? Can you keep your car in control on ice?

In this phase the most important thing is to keep yourself realist. The false confidence is more dangerous than being obscure.


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