Put on your Kid Goggles

AlphabetUnlearn

Why are these letters above separated like this?

Most young children come up with the answer to this within a few seconds. Adults? Most of us don’t even get it at all. Why? We look for patterns, we look for things that aren’t there, we ignore the things that actually are there and we overcomplicate. Children get it because they do what adults often fail to do – appreciate something at its simplest level, at face-value. (The spoiler to this riddle is below.)

Sometimes to really learn, you first have to unlearn. With all of the barriers created by our often unfounded certainty, creativity and curiosity can get blocked. It’s important to ask questions of the world.

MasterYoda-Unlearn

How about these choice gems that for many years, a large number of people accepted that they “knew” these things?

  • The sun revolves around the earth
  • The earth is flat
  • Cigarettes are good for your health

  • How about these so-called facts that many people today (including me before doing some research) still believe?

  • Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb – A series of others started it off, he just improved and popularized it
  • People only use 10% of our brains – Actually it takes a lot more to do any complicated functions
  • Nothing lives forever – The jellyfish Turritopsis nutricula reverts back to being a baby once it reproduces
  • The chance of getting heads when you flip a coin is 50/50 – Actually it’s 51/49 if the coin started heads up, according to those wonderful eggheads at Stanford University

  • There are no universal truths, just ways of viewing the world. If you are fixed in one way of thinking and don’t open up your mind, you may not come up with the best solution or generate the best idea.

    Over time, as we “grow up” (except for you Toys-R-Us kids), we are often taught in ways that shut down our creativity and encourage us to only seek knowledge which confirms our beliefs. In fact, we are naturally built to do just that, it’s called the confirmation bias – we are all guilty of doing it.

    Put on your Kid Goggles

    Here are some ways you could help yourself unlearn and put on your Kid Goggles, even temporarily, to nudge your mind to uncharted territory and see the world in a different way:

  • Imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes. Cliched as it may sound, it can really work if you embrace the process.
  • Challenge your own views. Actively seek information that goes against your current outlook. You will either reaffirm what you already know or build some exciting new perspectives. Nothing to lose, plenty to gain.
  • Don’t assume you know everything. It may take a bit of humility to admit you’re not a mega-genius, but you really will be opening yourself up to learning new information.
  • Assume you know nothing. It’s different than the last one I swear. This is more about channeling “clean slate” or white page thinking. How would you do something if you had to start from ground zero?
  • Don’t fall prey to being a Fableweaver. In this other post, you can see how cognitive dissonance can make you avoid being honest with yourself in an effort to make your brain comfortable.
  • Ask yourself what you already know (or think you know) that’s getting in your way. Then imagine how you might think if you didn’t know that.
  • Ask a lot of questions. Then be quiet and listen. Really listen.

  • Spoiler alert: By the way, the answer to the riddle above: The letters below the line have curves and the ones above the line don’t. Simple, and now, obvious. Admittedly, I didn’t figure this out, and I felt pretty dense when the answer was revealed. It’s not my fault. I’m an adult!

    Constant Questions: What have you learned that may prevent you from learning more? Can you think of other ways to put on your Kid Goggles? How has seeking opposing views and information helped you channel creativity and innovation? Are you a Toys-R-Us Kid? Do you not want to grow up? If you did grow up, could you still be a Toys-R-Us Kid?

    The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.
    – Alvin Toffler

    learnunlearnrepeat