Do you know what you do not know?

Woke up this morning wishing I could somehow go in to the future and see how everything pans out.  Using this knowledge, I could come back to the present and just do the things that work rather than spend time learning to do things that may not be part of my future anyway.

Probably a side effect of watching the ‘Back to the future’ Trilogy. 🙂

Imagine that though, being able to go forward in time and figuring out what you have done right, figuring out all the things you do not know yet and then coming back and easily putting the right things into place so the outcome is maximised quickly.

The only downside being you have not had the time to build the right character required for the end result to happen, assuming of course that you liked what you saw in the year 2040!!

This got me thinking about the stages of learning something new. There are things I do not know yet that I do not know.  As I walk along my journey, these things become more and more apparent.  In fact there are times when I feel like the more I know, the more I know I do not know!  What of you?

At some point in the past, I remember someone talking me through the stages of learning a new skill and so I went on a hunt on Google to find out about this.  Have you heard of these? The words in italics were obtained from Wikipedia.

1.    Unconscious Incompetence

The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognise their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage.  The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.

At this point, I do not imagine I would even know I was missing a skill until I came to do something that seemed unnecessarily hard.  I would then cross to the second stage.

2.    Conscious Incompetence

Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.[4]

At this point, I know I do not know the skill, I probably also know that I need it.  The question becomes how to go about learning it.

3.    Conscious Competence

The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.[3]

This is like learning to drive originally.  At first, every part of driving involves a lot of attention, trying to control the feet, control the hands, look at the road, steer the car, move the gear stick.  It all takes a lot of concentration and may even seem incredibly difficult.  In some cases, the driving test is failed on numerous occasions as the skill is further refined and finally mastered and then we get to stage 4…

4.    Unconscious Competence

The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

At this point, it is second nature for us to practice the skill.  In the example of driving, suddenly we are doing silly things like talking on the phone while driving as we do not need to give it our full attention anymore.  It comes very naturally to our bodies so no forethought is required.  This comes after a whole lot of practice.


These levels of learning can be applied to numerous sections of our life.

I hope that was helpful to you.





  • Canon says:

    Nice post. I went through the post I found it very informative and useful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Phoebe says:

    Very well written post. It will be valuable to anybody who utilizes it, as well as myself. Keep doing what you are doing – for sure i will check out more posts.

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