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Unconscious incompetence, etc.


The model is: Stages of Learning: Unconscious incompetence Conscious incompetence Conscious competence Unconscious incompetence This model has come up for discussion on the forum several times, and I'm wondering whether anyone has any more concrete answers as to where it originates than have been offered heretofore? Andy B.

6 Responses

  1. Just a thought
    OK, so I cheated. Having been away for a while (since before the grand makeover) I had no idea how to pass on some information without asking a question and then answering myself ;¬)

    So, here’s a suggestion, which not only looks very plausible but would also explain how the model became so popular with NLPers:

    Please sir, sir – I think it was Bateson minor what did it, sir!

    Gregory Bateson, something of a polymath, very well-known in his own time, and something of a mentor to Bandler and Grinder, the co-creators of NLP, once invented a model he called “Logical Categories of Learning and Communication” (1964) (more commonly known as “Logical Levels of Learning” (see, drop the “logical” and you’ve already got the same title). Bateson’s essay is reprinted in “Steps to an Ecology of Mind”, , Part 3.)

    What if someone decided to make Bateson’s model less academic?

    Bateson’s model was genuinely “logical”, and consisted of genuine “levels”. It looked something like this (with the relevant level of ‘Competency’ in each case) :

    Unconscious incompetence
    Bateson’s Level 0 – Rule-based actions. No learning is involved. No ‘trial and error’ hence no learning.

    Conscious Incompetence
    Bateson’s Level 1 – Learning. Selects from options, learns from feedback.

    Conscious competence
    Bateson’s Level 2 – Learning how to learn. Can create new options if necessary, based on understanding of learning process(es).

    Unconscious competence
    Bateson’s Level 3 – ‘Enlightenment’. Or just “going with the flow” without having to consciously think each action through before making it?

    A possibility?

    Be well

    Andy B.

  2. Learning Levels
    Hello, how spooky is that or maybe its my reticulated activating system, i am about to present a course of presentating and learning and have included this concept in the training.

    Thought i would add some intesting information about these levels

    To reach Concious Competence at any worth while skill takes around 1000 hours or 166 days if you wish to study for 6 hours a day.

    To become unconciously compentant it would take 5000 hours which equates to 2 years of study for 6 hours a day.

    I also read in Training with NLP ( very old book) that to reach mastery which is makijg any difficult task or skill look very easy indeed takes 25,000 hours this equates to over 11 years study at 6 hours a day.

    However with NLP these hours and Time can be bypassed through great teaching and Modelling.

  3. Don’t know, can’t do; do know, can’t do; do know, can do; can do
    Firstly, after much rummaging and investigation, I can say categorically that I have no idea who created the ‘unconcious competence…’ learning levels model. I suspect it is one we will never know.

    As to the number of hours to become excellent at something, this was recently much publicised following Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers. Whilst Malcolm is an interesting story teller, I would take some of his claims with a big pinch of salt. The broad premise that emmersion, dedication, learning from the best, building on your natural talents and many hours of practice can lead to excellence is a no-brainer. Just how long it takes to become excellent will depend on the subject matter as well as all those factors above.

    As to NLP making it faster: faster than what, if it is that easy why are we not all doing it, and where is the evidence. Firstly, many of the ideas claimed as NLP come from other sources. Modelling others comes from social learning theory, for example, and has been around for a long time. Great learning experiences obviously help both the quality and speed of learning so I’m not knocking NLP, I’m just contesting the inference (often made by NLP advocates) that it is somehow better. Dare I say even ‘magical’.


  4. Hello little reality check ;¬)
    Hi Graham

    As a keen NLPer (as you may possibly have noticed) I have no objection whatever to you introducing a note of reality. There’s far too much hyping of the NLP-techniques, which doesn’t help anyone, not even the NLP community.

    As to the hours business, these estimates were around before Gladwell’s book came out, and are, if I remember correctly, based on a genuine survey of the practice hours put in since childhood by people of varying levels of proficiency.
    (Also, if my memory serves, those that took part were all musicians. But maybe there have been surveys in other areas of expertise?)

    Those who had become internationally renowned artistes had done ‘A’ hours practice per day since childhood;
    Those who were highly competent orchestra members but not quite good enough to become solists had done ‘B’ hours per day;
    And so on.

    And from those basic figures the researchers estimated grand totals.

    For writers, so they say, to be a top author you need to produce at least 1,000 words a day – but if you don’t have any fresh ideas it’s okay to write anything you like to make up the numbers.

    I agree with you about the doubtful value of trying to assign exact numbers. Though I guess it does at least validate the basic concept that ‘genius is 99% perspiration and only 1% inspiration’.
    Be well

  5. Arabic Saying?

    I discovered this arabic saying first discovered on a 12th century manuscript, it reads:

    "He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool – shun him;
    He who knows not, and knows that he knows not is ignorant – teach him;
    He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep – wake him;
    He who knows, and knows that he knows, is a wise man… follow him."



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