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


The learners in the 21st century live in an environment that requires them to learn, unlearn, and relearn on a regular basis. The technology in our world today is ten times what we had even five years ago. We are consistently wanting to create things that are better, faster, and easier to use. Due to this nature, as everyday learners, we are required to learn on a regular basis.

Take for example the Apple IPhone. As a user, I had to learn how to use the new phone and all it’s programming after I purchased it. However, on a weekly or monthly basis Apple comes out with a software download to make my phone either more user-friendly, safer, or faster. However, some of those new software downloads change the way my phone is set-up. Now I have to unlearn what I previously knew, and explore the new features of this download. Same phone, new software. This happens on a regular basis with many different apps, programs, games, and everyday items we use. I constantly have to try to explain to my grandma that the new Apple software didn’t change her phone, it made it better, but you can’t go back to the old way. You may understand my frustration as this challenge is faced with having to teach my grandma to unlearn and relearn.

In the same way, we need to teach our students in ways that help them strategize through the learning, unlearning, and relearning process. While helping to explain this idea, Juke (2013) stated that our students are neurologically wired differently than we are. We struggle in this environment, they thrive. And they are thirsty to learn more, do more, and create more. Because of this thirst, we as educators have a generation that is striving to learn. This benefit has given us a chance to provide our students with more opportunities and ways to achieve their dreams.

However, this also puts educators at a disadvantage as well. We are just barely surviving in this complex world as we strive to give our students more opportunities. Sometimes many of us feel that we learn more from our students than we teach. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just proves to be a challenge. Voogt, Erstad, Dede, & Mishra (2013) talk about the fact that it is obvious that not only learners but also teachers need to acquire 21st-century competencies as well as become competent in supporting 21st-century learning. We are now required to implement multiple forms of technology to create engaging environments, complete more activities, and differentiate our teaching and classrooms in more complex ways. We struggle to keep up as we have to learn this process as well as teaching it, but we know that this next generation will be even more competent than the one before it.



Jukes, I. (2013). Understanding the digital generation [Video file]. Retrieved fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kDt55RTTHo.

Voogt, J., Erstad, O., Dede, C., & Mishra, P. (2013). Challenges to learning and schooling in the digital networked world of the 21st century. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(5), 403–413.


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