Learning usually goes through various levels of competence.

One usually starts out by being unconsciously incompetent. There is something one can't do and one doesn't even know it.

Then one becomes aware of it. One becomes consciously incompetent. One didn't get any better at it, but at least one knows one can't do it.

Once one knows what one can't do, one can start working on it. By learning and practicing some methods of doing things in one's area of learning, one becomes consciously competent. That is, one can do it if one concentrates.

By continuing to practice what one has learned, it gradually becomes automatic. One becomes unconsciously competent. One is doing the right thing, but one no longer has to think about it.

Let's say you weren't able to speak Japanese. You go through life without any thought on the matter, happily being unconsciously incompetent in speaking Japanese. Then you read "Shogun" and become interested in Japanese. But you now realize that you can't speak Japanese, and if you try you don't get very far. You are consciously incompetent in Japanese. Then you get hold of a language course with tapes and glossaries and so forth, and you start studying Japanese. After some work you become able to say some things correctly if you think carefully about it and remember what you have studied. You are now consciously competent in Japanese. As you continue learning, the basic rules and words or Japanese become second nature. You will find yourself using them without having to think about it first. You are then unconsciously competent in speaking Japanese.

There is an additional level after that. Once one has learned a subject well, so that one can automatically use it without thinking about it, one can then enter a mode of being consciously aware at all times of what unconscious or sub-conscious abilities one is using. That is, one is trusting that one can do it without thinking of it, and one uses one's free attention to be aware of what one is doing with it at a higher level. We could call that being meta-consciously competent. That signifies the true mastery of a subject. One has learned the subject and one knows exactly what one has learned. That would be when you can express yourself artistically in the language, or when you can teach others Japanese and demonstrate your mastery of the language to them as you are explaining what you are doing.

So, the levels of learning are:


- Note a competence or incompetence you have in each of the five categories

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