Learn, Unlearn, and Relearn

Learn, Unlearn, and Relearn

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

What does this famous quote mean? How can a person unlearn something that he has learned through so many efforts? What’s the point of saying learn, unlearn, and relearn? Isn’t it just a waste of time? Questions like these come to everyone’s mind when they come across such types of titles for the first time. Stick to the blog to get answers.

Why is it important to learn, unlearn, and relearn?

The world is quite dynamic. The knowledge never remains constant. With every passing year, new discoveries and theories are put forward, and facts are being uncovered. Many previously believed knowledge is updated or theories are rejected on the basis of new results gained through continuous exploration. It is most evident in the field of science but is not only limited to it.

In our everyday life, we unlearn and relearn many new things. Hence, a person should always have an attitude of learning new things to meet the requirements of a continuously changing world. It is necessary for the personal growth of an individual which will ultimately impact the entire nation.

The learn, unlearn, and relearn cycle

Understanding and becoming a part of the learn, unlearn, and relearn cycle is important for success. Before moving towards that, we must know what these three words mean.

Meaning of the words learn, unlearn and relearn

The word learn means acquiring knowledge that you were previously unaware of. Unlearn means to erase the already learned or gained knowledge from one’s memory. The word relearn means to bring again something into one’s knowledge.


Now that you know the meaning of these words, let’s take an example to understand the cycle better. Imagine you bought a sofa set in 1998 when you moved to your new home. At that time, the sofa set of that specific design was in trend. You used it very carefully. Now, it’s 2022 but your sofa set is still in good condition. But its design is old. No one sells or buys such sofas.

You have renovated your home but haven’t changed the sofa because it can still be used. Everything else in your house is new and trendy except that sofa set. You have realized that the set is now old. You have to look for a new couch set that matches your anterior and is in trend. In other words, the environment around the sofa has changed so it’s important to change the sofa as well.

Apply the same to learning. In the past, science was not that advanced. There was no such highly advanced equipment as available now. Time changed, development occurred, and now nothing is the same as in the past. To walk in the continuously changing world, people have to unlearn many things to relearn the new.

Example #2

A very simple example is mobile phones. A few years back, most people used to have featured phones. They had to press so many buttons to call a person. Now, the same population is using smartphones. They have upgraded themselves according to the environment. They have relearned the use of a mobile phone. A shift from a featured phone to a smartphone is also a journey of new learnings. Similarly, if a person wants success, no matter in what field, he must have a welcoming attitude towards the learn, unlearn, and relearn cycle. It has many benefits. A few are discussed below.

Benefits of the learn, unlearn, and relearn cycle

  1. The learn, unlearn, and relearn cycle helps a person to acclimate to ever-changing environments. Such individuals have the potential to accept and inquire about everything happening around them. Their curiosity about learning new things and implementing them in life makes them achieve what’s unachievable for many others.
  2. It makes life easy for people by providing a number of possible solutions to a problem. For instance, during the COVID lockdown period, unemployment was a major problem. Many smart people learned new skills for online jobs. They unlearned all their previous concepts of 9 to 5 jobs and shifted towards the remote mode of working.
  3. Unlearning creates space for new beliefs and values. It aids in thinking critically and smartly. Such an individual is a source of new information for others too.

Also read: How important is self-actualization?


The learn, unlearn, and relearn cycle is now a part of our daily lives. It is now a need. The environment around us is changing continuously. To succeed in life, we also have to adopt the learn, unlearn, and relearn attitude, or else we’ll be left behind.


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