“Don’t make eye contact.” This is sage advice when on the subway or in the men’s restroom of the local bar and grill. Years of incidental learning has taught American men the do’s and don’ts of restroom
Do take the urinal next to the wall.
Don’t stand closer to one person than another.
Do pee on the urinal mint to release the cherry scent.
Don’t ask your neighbor how his day is going.
read the graffiti written in the grout lines.
Don’t correct the graffiti’s grammar.
Learning is a social process conducted, either directly or indirectly, with other humans. We begin to learn by
trying peripheral activities, then take on more complex activities as we grow in confidence and see other people perform them. This happens in the home, in English class, and at Denny’s.
We start learning the day we are born. Before we even
get close to a school class, we are already shaped in many ways. People are social animals, so from a very young age, we learn how to behave in groups. But sometimes we learn bad behaviors. We learn to yell at and put others down,
to fight and to hide our feelings. So how do we learn to unlearn the old knowledge we cling to that hinders our ability to progress?
Unlearning is uncomfortable; it forces us to step beyond our comfort zones and let go of past beliefs. Much
of our knowledge is deeply rooted within ourselves, and it manifests through automatic behavior. In order to break this process, we need to identify old knowledge and assimilate new then begin to foster curiosity while taking little steps toward the
unknown. Take the middle urinal. Stand next to someone whose midstream on the end. Ask him how his day is. Just don’t shake his hand. Not yet anyway. Shake the dew off your lily, zip up, and head out. The world
has much to teach if you’re willing to unlearn what you think you already know.