Learning/Unlearning Reflection Homework


What do we mean by “learning and unlearning” (an idea we got from Richard Bolles’ classic What Color is Your Parachute)? The idea here is that as we grow and learn, some new ideas that come to us require not only learning, but unlearning as well. Some new ideas and information can enter into our awareness in a perfectly compatible and friendly way, and everything that was already in place previously stays put. In other cases, the new information overlaps current understanding or even directly contradicts it, requiring something to get materially edited, rearranged, or evicted altogether. For some of you the developmental psychology point of view that states that the decade of the 20’s are a normative period of discovery and emergence into self-authored adulthood may invite you to discard the idea that you should and can know just what you want to do with the rest of your life by at least age 25 or 26. Many other ideas we discuss in this course may not solicit that kind of adjustment or internal renegotiation. Consequently learnings and unlearnings do not always appear in coupled pairings (they’re not 1:1).

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Please write up:

  • 5 learnings and unlearnings (5 ideas total – you may write more if you wish)
  • 1 of each minimum (ie: at least one learning and one unlearning)
  • 1-2 pages

Anything that you have learned in the process of participating in the course can qualify. It need not be a specific bit of material included in the lectures or the readings or exercises. It can include your own realizations in the process of working your ideas through these last few weeks or things you came to in conversations spurred by the coursework. Try to include things that are substantive to you. It’s fine to include things that you are contemplating as a learning or unlearning that you may not have committed to yet. Especially in the case of unlearnings, we often need to hold an idea for a while (even months or years sometimes) before we commit to it, make it our own, and discard the old ideas. Feel free to have your writeup include your candidates for learning and unlearning, even if you remain somewhat undecided at the moment. In that case, you may want to include what issues you’re pondering about the candidate idea. The whole point is to stop, take stock, and take ownership of what you’re getting by articulating it in a clear way.

Keep in mind that your learnings and unlearnings can include anything that you’ve learned/unlearned as a result of participating in the course, whether it’s a direct component of the curriculum or not.

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