Today’s quote comes from the well-known futurist and author, Alvin Toffler, who wrote Future Shock and The Third Wave.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
As someone who loved to learn through his research, Toffler was a master at looking into the future. He was always open to change, suggesting that “change is non-linear and can go backwards, forwards and sideways.”
Toffler clearly embraced the differentiating value of learning, which is the cognitive process of acquiring skill or knowledge. It can also mean accumulated knowledge.
But if our accumulated knowledge doesn’t help us adapt to the changes around us – to unlearn and relearn – then what we’ve learned is useless.
Years ago, I remember meeting a 40 year old businessman being taught how to read and write. Yes, he was illiterate. He was truly a rare person able to survive without those basic skills. But he had reached a point he needed to learn them.
If you’re struggling with our changing world, I encourage you to embrace the value of learning – even if you can read and write well. As Toffler suggests, learning how to unlearn and relearn might be the best gift you can give yourself. It might even help you read the future!