How Unlearning Shapes a Person's Interaction with The World: The Ipod Experiment

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About this sample


Words: 1257 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

Words: 1257|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

“The iPod experiment was a start, but to get a sense for just how big a task we face, it’s use to have a sense of how schools came to be the way they are, shaped by h values of a very different world” (Davidson 56). Indeed, the iPod experiment at Duke University was a surprising experiment because no one really knew what would happen to this new device that was meant as an audio player. It was questionable whether iPods could even be educational, that is, until educators saw students who were born during the information age go to work. When the students were given an opportunity to essentially create their own classroom and ways of learning, without any conditions from the University, it truly allowed them to shape their interaction with the world in a way the old education model could never allow them to do. The world is constantly changing, which suggests that learning is nowhere as important as a shaping a person’s interaction with the world through unlearning, the only way to move away from a past that no cannot suffice for the future.

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Unlearning is not forgetting, but it is letting go of something that is already acquired by us. One important factor that helps with unlearning is to be open and broad-minded. Cathy Davidson, a Duke University professor, defines unlearning by saying, “Unlearning requires that you take an inventory of your changed situation, that you take an inventory of your current repertoire of skills, and that you have the confidence to see your shortcomings and repair them” (Davidson 67). By this, she simply means that one must recognize his or her strengths and shortcomings. Doing this will allow people to not necessarily just improve in a way that will help them face a new challenge, but it will more importantly shift their focus and their methods in a way that may even create new areas of confidence. In a way, unlearning is changing what you learn and how you learn. In fact, changing these two things will make it natural for an individual to unlearn because it allows them to focus on the present and the future, not the past. Being open-minded will allow individuals to be aware of change within themselves and change within the world. Being broad-minded and unlearn will ultimately result in a person more properly suited to interact in a world that is forever changing.

Not only should people be more open-minded when it comes to unlearning, they should also recognize the importance of working with others. Working together has always been an important value, one that has helped shaped a very different world. In fact, that same value seems to have even more potential in this information age. Referring to the iPod, Davidson says, “Because everyone had the device, sound suddenly had a new educational role in our text- and visual-dominated classroom culture…Interconnection was the peat of students grasped before an y of us did. Students how had grown up connected digitally gravitated to ways that the iPod could be used for collective learning” (Davidson 52). With this in mind, Davidson implies that the old models are no longer useful. Therefore, it is time to unlearn, or shift away from the old model and create new education models. She gives many examples of unlearning through crowdsourcing, interconnection, and collective learning. In one example of unlearning, Davidson talks about the med students who created a way to access all the possible heart arrhythmias in a real-time health exam. Using a stethoscope in one ear, they were able to match what they were hearing in the patient’s chest to the specific file in the audio library, which would clearly identify the heart condition the patient had. In another case, Dr. Martha Adams, a senior administrator at the Duke School of Medicine, understood how much impact it would have on the community to share medical research with others and have other doctors share with them. This led her to create a medical facility that did just that. Apparently, this was something big since she worked as the head the National Institutes of Health national outreach iPod initiative (Davidson 52). Just through these two examples, it clearly illustrates just how important interconnection is and how mutually beneficial collective learning can be. This was made possible only by unlearning the past, one that was based on listening to teachers, reading textbooks, and of course, taking very large numbers of exams, all of which has little if any relevance to their life outside of school.

In another example, Davidson explains how students used their iPods to store their music compositions. In this way, they could have other students and friends listen and give feedback (Davidson 53). This was a simple case and perhaps not that impactful on the global level, but it really outlines the potential that unlearning can have. Before the digital age, it would be unlikely for most students to walk to someone’s house just to share their music compositions, which were by the way, homework. Furthermore, Davidson talks about a class in the school of Environment, which interviewed families in a North Carolina community about the lead paint concerns in homes and schools. Every student uploaded his or her interview to a course webpage, allowing any other students in the class to download and/or comment on the interview. Finally, they formed an audio documentary that was spread with the help of local and regional stations, as well as the Web (Davidson 52). The interview helped the individual by allowing them to state their concerns. More importantly, it helped all the students in the school. Actually, it was not just the interview, but it was the attention the activity got from all the students. Again, this allowed interconnection and collective learning. Furthermore, a collection of interviews from a class of students and their families released into the public is something even more impactful and on a larger scale. Some may argue that smart people or the people who go to elite colleges probably made up these ideas and impacted the public, but that is simply not true. It is clear that unlearning the culture and the traditions of public education before the information age is what created crowdsourcing, interconnection between students, and the founding of collective learning on a massive scale. The world-wide Web is powerful, but it is only as powerful as the information individuals share and offer each other. If something is not relevant, you must unlearn it.

People should tie what they learn in schools to home, families, neighborhood, etc. Davidson says, “Relevance has been proved to be a crucial factor for keeping students in high school, especially mid- and lower-level students. Tie what kids learning school to what they can use in their homes, their families and their neighborhood—and vice versa—and not surprisingly, that relevance kicks their likelihood of staying in school up a few notches (Davidson 59). This is what Davidson means by relevance, and why unlearning is so important. Unlearning helps keep what students learn in school relevant, and current school systems are not getting that right. More and more testing seems to be the focus, but like Davidson questions, what has the world become?

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The world is constantly changing, which suggests that learning is nowhere as important as a shaping a person’s interaction with the world through unlearning, the only way to move away from a past that no cannot suffice for the future.

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How Unlearning Shapes a Person’s Interaction with the World: The iPod Experiment. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from
“How Unlearning Shapes a Person’s Interaction with the World: The iPod Experiment.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019,
How Unlearning Shapes a Person’s Interaction with the World: The iPod Experiment. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2024].
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