How do we learn ?
I don’t know what I don’t know. 
This is the state of mind in which I carry out all the research that contributes to the writing of this blog. More broadly, it is a disposition of being which, in my opinion, can only help us to progress in life.
Learning is the process by which complexity and consciousness grow in the universe. And we are part of that process ! From human cognition to universal scale, I explore different facets of learning in this article, particularly the role of the unconscious. So if you want to learn how to learn, follow me !
The interest of a disturbed cognition
In 2016, Jason M. Lodge and Gregor Kennedy  wrote an article  on their study  of the learning mechanisms. According to them, the state of mental confusion that can go with new learning, and more generally a confrontation with information that is new, complex, counter-intuitive or simply contrary to our previous knowledge, is legitimate. It is even preferable to a lack of cognitive disruption, which, through overconfidence on the part of the learner, could on the contrary be detrimental to the acquisition of new knowledge.
Lodge and Kennedy point out that when it occurs, this cognitive impasse is often perceived as a lack of intelligence, and then, can be experienced as negative. So much so that we can seek to avoid it. And so be tempted to be satisfied with a simple explanation for complex ideas, or even to deliberately eliminate complexity. Then this can lead us to appreciate smooth, flowing, attractive and entertaining presentations, in which the information seems easy to understand because it seems consistent with our intuitive conceptions… or our misconceptions. The trouble is that such presentations often come with an « inflated sense of what is really being learned. » . So, according to them :
« If we don’t really confront the concepts, they cannot be dealt with deeply enough to lead to sustainable learning. » 
Refusing to dive into complexity can lead us to believe that we understand concepts when we do not. It is better to measure ourselves against them, at one time or another. In this way we will be able to build our own opinion on the information we come into contact with.
Towards sustainable learning
The study finally shows that we can benefit from our state of confusion. The key is to feel comfortable with it, understanding that it is simply part of the learning process. Being able to accept it means not letting it settle down. Neither are its two correlates : frustration and boredom. Only then will we not give up learning. And that, moreover, we will be able to improve our strategies for understanding the world.
My cognition has been disrupted more than once in the course of my research. I have also modified, rewritten and even deleted many articles. I dived into concepts to sort out simple, simplistic, shortened, incorrect, complicated, complex information… In short, I deconstructed concepts, sometimes with difficulty, sometimes with a certain joy.
The complexity does not necessarily lie in the concept itself, although we may perceive it that way. Often, it is more about deconstructing what is complicated, the false simplicity. Or what we know or think we know and hold on to for various reasons. And sometimes, accepting this deconstruction – passing this milestone – reveals a new concept, which is ultimately much simpler than the old one…
This is what happens at the tip of the iceberg, at the conscious level of learning. But perhaps you want to understand how sustainable learning is actually implemented ? Then it is necessary to be interested in the process that links conscious to unconscious. So follow me, and may cognition be with us !
The right use of the unconscious
Taking a slightly broader view can make us realize that conscious space does not ultimately occupy such a large part of the learning process. But, of course, it is a sine qua non condition for any learning !
The diagram below shows that information emerges from the field of the unconscious and returns to it, after having been modified by its passage in the field of consciousness. This process we go through when we learn new information is a 4‑step process.
The 4 stages of learning
1. Unconscious incompetence
This is when « I don’t know that I don’t know ».
2. Conscious incompetence
There comes a time when « I know that I don’t know ». I become aware of a skill to be acquired. So this is also the moment when my cognition can potentially be disturbed ! To get past this stage, I simply have to acknowledge that « I don’t know », and agree to change the state of my current knowledge. However, I must still believe that this information comes from a reliable source and that it will be of benefit to me.
3. Conscious competence
This is where the real confrontation with concepts takes place ! I’m entering the space of conscious effort. Ideally, I need to observe a person using the skill I am trying to acquire in an appropriate manner. But, whether or not observation takes place, I must repeat the learning until the way I use the skill becomes fluid and fast. In other words, until I’m comfortable with this new skill.
This is what will condition sustainable learning, i.e. learning that replaces old concepts. These last ones unconsciously forged my way of thinking for a more or less long time. This will explain my possible difficulty in accepting change (and, in fact, the longer I think about it, the more effort it will take).
4. Unconscious competence
At some point in the conscious process of sustainable learning, the execution of the new skill becomes automatic. Then it passes into the field of unconscious because I don’t have to think about it consciously anymore.
This process should make us realize that we have some unconscious thought patterns based on the skills we have acquired so far. Whether we perform these skills the right way… or not.
And this process must also make us realize that we can change our thought patterns.
Neuronal plasticity doesn’t do everything
Learning results from the formation of synaptic connections, which when wired as a stable pattern of neural connections become unconscious thought patterns. These connections may be formed, transformed and undone with great fluidity – so-called neural plasticity – but if we do not repeat the learning of the new skills we wish to acquire, old neural connections, and therefore old learning, will still predominate.
Looking only at the tip of the learning iceberg, one might think that the brain is constantly perceiving and evaluating the world in new ways. But this should not make us forget the submerged (unconscious) part which is in fact the one really at work.
And that underwater part could be… as big as the universe !
In rhythm with the universe !
Taking an even broader view allows us to put our own learning process into perspective with that of the universe. Nassim Haramein’s unified field theory teaches us that the universe learns through a feedback loop between matter and vacuum. That is to say : matter learns from vacuum, and vacuum learns from matter, through immediate and continuous feedback.
Thus, this dynamic takes place at all scales, from the infinitely small to the infinitely large, including the human scale. We could also say that the universe learns through us. (see the article on quantum consciousness for more information).
Where do you place the cursor ?
I hope to have made the concepts presented on this blog accessible. If you do feel confused when reading certain articles, if your cognition is somewhat disturbed, just know that you are simply on the (right) path of a learning process ! Then, feel free to place the cursor wherever you want.
But always keep in mind that you don’t know what you don’t know. And that the first information processing center is the heart (see the article on quantum biology).
Notes and references
 I borrow this formula heard here and there, of which I am not the author.
 Jason M. Lodge is Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of Melbourne (Australia) and Gregor Kennedy is Vice-President of the University of Melbourne and Professor at the Centre for Higher Education Research.
 LODGE Jason & KENNEDY Gregor. (September 21, 2016). Confused ? Don’t worry, you can use this to learn better. In : Slate
 LODGE Jason & KENNEDY Gregor. (2015). Prior knowledge, confidence and understanding in interactive tutorials and simulations.
 LODGE Jason & KENNEDY Gregor. Confused ? Don’t worry, you can use this to learn better, op.cit.