“Unlearning is the New Learning” says Professor Karen Becker
In what may be a shock revelation to those who hold university degrees, Professor Karen Becker informed delegates to the U3A Network Conference that in today’s world knowledge changes so fast that what is learned at university changes within two to three years but that all is not lost: we can unlearn outdated knowledge and learn new concepts and skills.
Professor Becker discussed the concept of how the concept of ‘unlearning’ emerged in response to recognising that individuals and organisations are not ‘blank slates’ and that the staying with prior knowledge may hinder efforts to learn or acquire new knowledge.
“Knowledge management relies on the acquisition and sharing of knowledge by both individuals and organisations, and learning is an important part of this process.”
Professor Becker went on to say that being willing and able to unlearn is proving to be just as important. Unlearning involves questioning existing knowledge and, in many cases, relinquishing what was previously thought to be ‘true’. The focus on unlearning argues that releasing prior knowledge, or at least acknowledging its presence and shortcomings, may hold the key to successful knowledge management, for both individuals and collectives.
Karen also spoke about promoting diversity in enrolments in the university learning program, and introduced one of her mature age students who described her pathway to her university education. She is the only female in her engineering degree.
The unlearning concept is certainly an interesting subject to try and get your mind around. Might be something you have to Google.
Professor Becker was appointed as the inaugural Head of USC Moreton Bay campus located at Petrie in February 2020. She is a human resource management professional, having worked in corporate and consulting roles prior to moving into universities to teach and research in this area.