2.8 CRITICAL FRAMEWORK: LEARN TO UNLEARN
So what is this critical framework and what are its implications? This framework should be incorporated within the professional design context. In order to allow the critical framework to be part of the professional design context, it should be applied within education. ‘Learning to unlearn’ is a method that creates this critical framework. For this thesis I will test ‘learn to unlearn’. But first I will need to define the method ‘learn to unlearn’.
Addressing ecological issues requires being an expert as well as a Pro-Am in a new topic. This demands to have learned ‘unlearning’. The embedded knowledge and routines existing in the expert context prevent deviation from those frameworks, and therefore prevent one from becoming a Pro-Am in a new topic. It is important to unlearn routines and embedded knowledge.
Fuller used the notions of learning and unlearning as pedagogical tools in his lessons. This is relevant when it comes to dealing with wicked problems. He argued that we could only understand the new if we unlearned everything we’ve accepted and learned. “The frontiers of science are such that almost every morning, many of our hypotheses of yesterday are found inadequate or in error. (…) If a capable student wants to become a front-frank scientist, he has to be able to unlearn everything he has learned.” (Fuller, 1962, p.4)
In order to understand synergy and ecology, we must get rid of our ‘automated’ frameworks and knowledge. “None of you is consciously routing the fish and potato you ate for lunch into this and that specific gland to make hair, skin, or anything like that. …All of this is automated, and always has been. There is a great deal that is automated regarding our total salvation on Earth…” (Fuller, 1969, p14)
Annette Krauss (artist and researcher) reviewed routines in ‘Site for Unlearning’ at Casco, as well. In order to appreciate and revalue these routines they first need to be understood. She used ‘unlearning’ as a method of understanding them.
Rancière’s notion of ‘understanding’ is about getting rid of received images and routines. Reflection on the ‘learned’ and ‘the ignorance’ creates a possibility of ‘understanding’ as he called it, the conquest of new territories’. “To understand this, we must rid ourselves of received images…. be removed from his routine. … It is about recognizing that there are not two levels of intelligence, that any human work of art is the practice of the same intellectual potential. … What is possible is reflection.” (Rancière 1991, p.36-37) He argued for a need to have learned ‘critical reflection’. In my view this is a part of the method ‘learning to unlearn’.
The process of unlearning isn’t linear. I consider it to happen in constant flux, as an individual process using methods of imagination, reflecting, zooming in and out, critical observations and connecting it back to reality. The essay ‘Unlearning: A Duologue’ in ‘The Pedagogics of Unlearning’ (Fradenburg and Joy, 2016) described the method as “To diverge rather then undo.” Unlearning is an instrument of critically reflecting on conditional knowledge. This can be done by “… methodologies—a range that includes critique and creativity, analysis and immersion, learning and unlearning. The classroom is an ecology, but like all ecologies, infinitely enmeshed in many, many others…”(Fradenburg and Joy, 2016, p.155)
Learning to unlearn is a pedagogical tool that should happen in constant flux. It is not a linear process, but an instrument for critically reflecting and speculating on both the ‘learned’ that belongs to the expert’s knowledge and skills as well as the ‘ignorant’ or amateur skills and knowledge. It is about critically/reflectively re-examining what is learned. It is deconstructing the build up of embedded (conditional) ideas and knowledge. Learn to unlearn gives therefor shape as a method to the critical framework and needs to be implemented in the curriculum.
 Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory – is for artistic research and experiments that are cross-disciplinary… (http://casco.art/casco-case-study-2-site-for-unlearning-art-organization-0, accessed May 2017)