“Unlearning”

I have always been rather irritated1 by the quote attributed to Alvin Toeffler. It was used in the start of the History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education MOOC. The participants are all supposed to be life long unlearners. Cute, pithy, tweetable but I fundamentally disagree with what the words mean. First, the quote- The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. I went wandering to find more about Toeffler and the quote. Know thy enemy2 and all that. The book most often associated with the quote is Future Shock. I find only two uses of the word “illiterate” in Future Shock. I also found a full PDF copy online that returned the same information. I won’t link to it here but you could find it without much issue. I’m amazed what I find by adding filetype:pdf to my Google searches. Anyway, the quote below seems to be the relevant one and it turns out I’m not the first to wander down this path. He does quote Gerjuoy who says something close, but better and harder to quote. Psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy of the Human Resources Research Organization phrases it simply: “The new education must teach the individual how to classify and reclassify information, how to […]