The Unlearning Project
16th May 2023

The Unlearning Project

The first time I felt the urgent need to ‘unlearn’ was while appearing for the Driver’s License tests in Dubai. Having driven in the might-is-right traffic of Mumbai for over 20 years I thought getting the license would be a breeze in the right-of-way traffic of Dubai. I soon understood that getting a license was not about learning to drive safely in Dubai, but it was about unlearning the habits of Mumbai driving.

It took some time to unlearn, and I got my license only after my 3rd attempt. But come to think of it, another thing we had to unlearn was to look on our right side while crossing the street. In UAE we must look at our left for oncoming traffic, isn’t it?

More recently, with age, I started to realize that learning is becoming difficult as I seem to know it all and there is nothing new to learn. Perhaps that is not the case. It could be that it is time to unlearn stuff that is making new learning harder.

Have you also thought of what you need to unlearn? Here are a few projects that are worthy of unlearning, and I am sharing it here with a prayer that perhaps some of you may want to reflect on it as well.

Career Paths In our days bright students became doctors or engineers. Today opportunities are all around and the new gen is not stuck on what parents had to. They are more aspiring and enterprising because they have access to more information than we did. It is time for us to unlearn that only two paths are available. We need to explore and learn about all the new paths open to this generation.

SustainabilityWe littered without a care, and we discarded without repair. We have to unlearn the habits that are destroying the earth and start with something as simple as taking a re-usable bag for shopping groceries. Instead of dismissing eco-habits as a fad we need to adopt and align to the 3Rs of re-use, recycle and reduce.

Managing PeopleWe were brought up to respect the chain-of-command, so we want managers to toe the line. It is time to unlearn that and dismantle the hierarchy for a collaborative structure where we listen to everyone up and down the line. Another thing to unlearn is that money is no longer the only motivation. People now aspire for quality of life, working for a purpose, and earning recognition.

Grasping Social-MediaPerhaps the hardest thing to unlearn is the concept of privacy. The creator economy has blurred the line between private and public sharing of our lives. We need to learn that a friend putting up your picture with both of you on a holiday is not a violation of your privacy.

I’m sure you may have many more things to unlearn, so if you feel like sharing, use the comments to add them here.

Mohammed Sutarwala, Managing Director, emQube.