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Recently, a friend of mine told me about the same classification regarding the process of learning any skill, but it was ordered slightly differently. It's a really concise and non-abstract way of encapsulating the learning process, which is helpful when people just don't "get" things like Zen philosophy. A few annotations might clarify:
  1. Unconciously Incompetent - Ignorant of your own lack of ability, unaware of any structure or limitations, and have no idea of the big picture. May perform by imitation and without understanding the rationale.
  2. Conciously Incompetent - Realization of structure, scope, and limitations. Have an idea as to how to things work, but perhaps an incomplete one, and are still learning how to operate effectively.
  3. Conciously Competent - Have "seen the elephant", understand how things work, and have enough experience to not get into trouble. However, a certain amount of deliberate concentration is required in order to perform. There is a little hesitation and uncertainty.
  4. Unconciously Competent - Performing no longer requires active effort, as practice has made this habitual and innate.
In a nutshell, you start out having no idea you know nothing, and end up with no idea how much you know.

In reply to Re^2: Web Security by tadman
in thread Web Security by merlyn

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