“Confusion is ignorance leaving the brain” – The 4 stages of learning

Have you ever noticed that when you are trying to do something new or are reading something that you don’t understand your emotions can start to take over?  You can become anxious or frustrated that you don’t “get it” or even annoyed with yourself.

I know I have seen people who get angry when trying to follow a set of instructions for flat pack furniture or anxious when studying a new concept or learning a new skill

The reason those emotions come forward is because of a sense of confusion and therefore a perceived lack of control.  However, this confusion is a normal and natural stage of learning and should be embraced.

Whenever we learn something new we go through 4 stages :

Let’s put this into context with learning to drive a car.

Stage 1 – before starting to learn you are blissfully unconsciously aware or oblivious of your incompetence or your inability to drive a car and what is involved.

Stage 2 – as you start to learn you become more aware of the number of things you need to think about and the amount of actions you need to complete with your feet on the pedals, hands on the steering wheel, gear lever, indicators and hand brake and eyes on the road, in the mirrors and dashboard.  At this stage you are consciously incompetent; you are aware of the amount you need to know and how little you do know.   This is where the confusion sets in.

Stage 3 – as you drive more, you become more adept at mirror, signal manoeuvre and clutch down, change gear and clutch up.  You are becoming more capable of driving a car but still need to concentrate and so are consciously competent.

Stage 4 – this is mastering.  When having been driving for some time, the actions become more natural without thinking this is when you become unconsciously competent.
We all go through the 4 stages with everything we do, sometimes it may be a quick process and other times it can be slower and more difficult.  It is at Stage 2 when the confusion sets in that creates the potentially emotional reaction of frustration.

Can you think of a time when you felt confused?  What caused it? What happened next? How did it affect your learning of that topic?  It is likely that this confusion helped your level of understanding and helped to cement this learning in your mind.

Next time you are at Stage 2 and you are feeling confused and maybe frustrated, angry or annoyed, remember that it is because your brain is trying to make sense of something.  Remember that you are going through a learning process and “Confusion is ignorance leaving the brain”.

If you are at a stage of confusion in your life and are looking for help to achieve the success you are seeking, as Your Catalyst For Change I can guide you through your confusion and help you swiftly move into unconscious competence.

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