The 4 Stages of Learning
To gain comprehensive knowledge, we must climb the ladder of learning, which involves four critical stages.
The man in this video is former New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Jim Mora. With his temper, tendency for brutal honesty and impatience with foolish questions, he was always one of the better quotes in the NFL.
In this clip from the 1989 season in New Orleans, Mora took aim at a sportswriter for pretending to know something.
“You guys really don't know when it's good or bad, when it comes right down to it," he said.
"And I'm promising you right now, you don't know whether it's good or bad. You really don't know, because you don't know what we're trying to do. You guys don't look at the films, you don't know what happened, you really don't know. You think you know, but you DON'T KNOW, and you never WILL, okay?"
Mora's message might seem insensitive, but he touches on a critical point and forces us to ask some key questions: When do we know? When do we know we have gained sustainable knowledge of a subject?
To gain comprehensive knowledge, we must climb the ladder of learning, which involves four critical stages:
- Being DOUBTFUL of how much we know. Doubtful is stage one. It is the beginning of fully grasping the required knowledge to become an expert. To some, we might sound knowledgeable and could pass for being experts, when in reality, we haven't even scratched the surface.
- Being HOPEFUL of how much we know. Hopeful is stage two. Having hopeful knowledge means you're well versed in some areas, and hopeful no one asks questions of the areas you still don't completely know.
- BELIEVING in how much we know. Believing is stage three. Believing comes from knowing our subject matter from start to finish. We understand the evolution and can explain what we know in different ways.
- KNOWING how much we know. Knowing is stage four. When we know we know, we can mentor others and can teach the subject in different styles. We have become experts in the field, and others look for us to explain and expound on what we have learned. We know the how and the why.
To speak with authority requires knowing. To ask questions doesn't. It only requires an understanding that you are attempting to learn. Had the reporter asked Mora a question in an inquisitive way, then maybe his answer would not have been so harsh.
We all want to become stage four learners, and we have the power to do so. The first step toward achieving that goal is understanding our current level of knowledge.