The four stages of learning

Here’s an important model to base any coaching or teaching initiative upon.  It’s Maslow’s Four Stages of Learning Model.  From Wikipedia here is a summary of each stage:

  • Unconscious Incompetence
    The individual neither understands nor knows how to do something, nor recognizes the deficit, nor has a desire to address it.
  • Conscious Incompetence
    Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, without yet addressing it.
  • Conscious Competence
    The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires a great deal of consciousness or concentration.
  • Unconscious Competence
    The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it becomes “second nature” and can be performed easily (often without concentrating too deeply). He or she may or may not be able teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.Source:

What is the goal of any coaching or development effort?  Naturally, it is to get to stage four.  This process doesn’t happen overnight and there are a bunch of techniques to progress through the stages.

If you’re a coach or parent it is important to recognize where students/players/kids are at on the model.  Put simply, you need to consider the skill levels of those receiving the coaching,  especially in a group situation.

In group coaching there are disadvantages of combining students who are on different levels.  Teach stage four stuff to those on stage one and the students will become confused very quickly.

Conversely, if you try to teach stage one stuff to those on stage four,  the students will become very bored.  So make the coaching appropriate to the skill level of those being taught.