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Understanding The Stages Of Learning

The process of how we know what we learn


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Becoming a professional ballerina is no easy feat. Dancers begin at the age of seven and spend eight to ten years of training to be an expert dancer. They fall, bruise, and fail, but all ballet dancers go through the Five Stages of Learning in hopes of achieving mastery – the same process that occurs when acquiring any skill in life.


The first stage of learning is unconscious competence, which is not knowing what a ballerina would know. Before attending a ballet class for the first time, she has no previous experience or knowledge of the dance. However, when interest finally turns into attending an introduction course, she enters the second stage, which is conscious incompetence. At this stage, she has the knowledge but is not very skilled.


The third stage of learning is conscious competence, and must now concentrate and practice. However, hard work pays off when she transitions into unconscious competence, the stage of effortlessness. All her learnings about twisting and turning have now become habitual and automatic, and are displayed in a performance or recital.


The final stage of learning is flow and mastery, which is effortlessly applying the skill while continuously practicing. For a ballerina to truly master dancing, she must practice and perfect her craft every day, and the same applies to learning any skill. The Five Stages of Learning is a model of the process it takes for one to pick up a new skill and work towards mastering it.