Mastery is the Fifth Stage, of the Four Stages of Learning (2023)

Mastery is the Fifth Stage, of the Four Stages of Learning (1) What are the Four Stages of Learning? Why is it that Mastery is not among them?

Some would have you believe that being unconsciously great at something is equivalent to mastery of that thing. Becoming unconsciously great at a skill is a wonderful goal, and is certainly an accomplishment that attracts attention. It may even be what earns you a fabulous living. But... that's not mastery.

When you master a thing, you're taking a step beyond just being great. You're going beyond unconscious competence, and re-learning all the details you probably forgot, when you were getting unconsciously great at a skill.

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What are the Four Stages of Learning?

You've likely heard of these before. If you want more information on the source of this model for learning, this link to Wikipedia will help. Essentially, here's a summary:

  • Unconscious Incompetence
  • Conscious Incompetence
  • Conscious Competence
  • Unconscious Competence

Essentially, when you first approach learning a new skill, you're unconsciously incompetent. You don't even know how bad you are at it. And if you try it and fail, you often can't even tell why you fail at it.

As you practice a skill, you gain conscious incompetence, and you begin to know why you're not yet good at the skill. You build awareness and filters and you don't have skill yet, you make a lot of mistakes, but you start learning from them.

As you continue to practice, you eventually find yourself getting better results. But its not easy to keep getting those results, becaue you have to keep working hard at it. You become consciously competent. And eventually, if you keep practicing, your brain starts to chunk all those hard-to-remember details into a higher level process. And you start getting better and better results, without even thinking about what you're doing. Pretty soon, you're on autopilot, because you're unconsciously competent. But there is one enormous problem looming ahead:

Unconscious Competence breeds
Complacency and False Sense of Expertise.

Just because you're really good at something does not mean you know how to teach it. It doesn't mean you can explain it. In fact, because moving from CC to UC requires the brain to chunk up and combine details into a higher level representation, any attempt to teach or train what you're good at, to others, is bound to fail. Because the very process of becoming unconsciously competent required you to forget conscious access to the detailed how-to knowledge.

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Now, today, too many fields are chock full of consciously or unconsciously competent "experts" who couldn't possibly impart deep skill to you. Why? Because...

Mastery of anything requires a minimum of
two passes through the Four Learning Stages.

Due to how learning/chunking works, you can only occupy ONE learning stage at a time for any given skill (or area of skill). Once you push through a threshold from one stage to the other, your brain generalizes what it learned and then can not access it the same way it did, previously. This is why people who reach unconscious competence often can't easily explain what they know (and this is another reason why it takes an NLP Modeler to really figure out what experts actually know).

Many, many people aren't aware of this -- or are, and probably wish you weren't aware of this phenomenon, because they'll be losing money once you are. Here's why:

To train anything, congruently, a teacher has to be able to both demonstrate it elegantly and masterfully -- and explain it well, to varied ears. Demonstrating it both consciously and unconsciously well. That can never happen when a teacher is still going through their first pass through the learning stages. It's not neurologically possible.

For someone to be able to explain or train something well, they need to reach UC, and then go back to the foundation and re-learn it from the ground up. This time, they're re-learning the foundation after having already acquired unconscious competence, so as to remind themselves of the conscious details they'd long since forgotten (that chunked up, en route to unconscious competence).

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This is why it's unreasonable whenever someone suggests they want to send someone to an event, and have them come back and explain what they've learned or teach it to others. They'll be able to NAME what they've learned, but they won't be able to both explain it and demonstrate it, well.

Wanting to master something is a wonderful pursuit. If you want to master it AND teach it, you'll need to go to school, so to speak, at least twice, through the same material.

Mastery is Stage Five.

We all know that once we become unconsciously competent, the very act of doing so requires that we chunk details up, and that causes us to forget specifics. If we try to explain specifics after that happens, our explanations would have come out sloppy, and incomplete.

The only way to have both unconscious competence AND conscious competence at the same time -- is to go back to school and re-learn everything a second time. It can't happen otherwise.

What people find, when and if they do this, is that (a) we spend almost no time in "unconscious incompetence" the second time through, and also, the time it takes to go through conscious incompetence back into conscious competence is much shorter the second time. But just because its faster the second time, does not make this process any less necessary.

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We re-approach the details of the skills we became great at doing, and we re-learn those details. Yes, they make more sense this time. But everyone who does this has some rude awakenings, because doing this inevitably brings our attention to details we didn't realize we'd forgotten (during our pursuit of unconscious competence). So it's incredibly valuable for everyone when we do this process. New students will need those details, and if we hadn't gone through this second run-through of the learning stages, we might have forgotten to train these to new students!

That re-discovery is exactly what happens when we move through the learning stages again, all the way up to conscious competence (and we never lose our unconscious competence as long as we keep practicing it).

Choose teachers or trainers who have
gone through the learning stages, twice.

How can you tell if your trainer or teacher has done this?

  1. Can they demonstrate what they're training at high or real-time speed, without either delay or note-checking? Can they do it conversationally while they do other things without seeming to think about it?
  2. When asked for a breakdown, can they explain what took place in detail, and, are you finding their comments 100% accurate according to your memory? Or are they referring only to clues that they know you're not yet trained to notice?
  3. Do well-known more experienced trainers or master trainers say good things about them as trainers/teachers? What about other students who have also trained with those more experienced trainers? What do people with better-trained filters than your own, say about the teacher you plan to learn from? New students do not yet have the awareness or metnal filters to be able to pick up the relevant nuances.

These aren't the only criteria I can think of, but they're among the best. The most important thing to know is that any expert can be unconsciously competent but be confused by details, OR, be gifted at explaining but not be able to demonstrate real-time elegance with the skill in question. Either of these qualities are clear evidence showing that expert has not gone on to real mastery -- which is the combination of unconscious competence AND conscious competence.

Here's my perspective: unless I'm intentionally doing NLP modeling of an expert's expertise, I won't personally invest in attending a class unless I can somehow first verify the teacher has already reached mastery of their expertise. Why invest in anything less?

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What are the 4 stages of learning and mastery? ›

Unconscious incompetence: Not knowing what you must know. Conscious incompetence: Knowing what you need to learn. Conscious competence: Capable of demonstrating the skill. Unconscious competence: Achieving skill mastery that enables effortless demonstration without mental effort.

What is the fifth stage of learning? ›

5) Fifth stage

Some theorists believe there is a fifth stage as well — “conscious competence of unconscious competence.” In this stage the learner is able to relate to learners in stages 1-4 enough to teach them. A stage five learner has reached a point where they can reflect on how they reached their level of mastery.

What are the stages of learning to mastery? ›

The Mastery Learning model works cyclically through five stages: pre-assessment, instruction, formative assessment, correction or enrichment instruction, and summative grading or assessment.

What are the 4 levels of learning? ›

The Kirkpatrick Model is a globally recognized method of evaluating the results of training and learning programs. It assesses both formal and informal training methods and rates them against four levels of criteria: reaction, learning, behavior, and results.

What are the 4 stages of the learning process? ›

The stages of learning reflect how learners process and assimilate information:
  • Stage 1: Concrete Experience (CE) assimilating information.
  • Stage 2: Reflective Observation (RO) processing information.
  • Stage 3: Abstract Conceptualization (AC) assimilating information.
  • Stage 4: Active Experimentation (AE)

What are the 5 stages of learning theory? ›

– Albert Bandura As the creator of the concept of social learning theory, Bandura proposes five essential steps in order for the learning to take place: observation, attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

What are the five 5 phases of the learning process? ›

These phases include Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.

What are the 5 stages of the learning cycle? ›

The learning cycle used in these lesson plans follows Bybee's (1997) five steps of Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation. As in any cycle, there's really no end to the process. After elaboration ends, the engagement of the next learning cycle begins. Evaluation is not the last step.

What is mastery stage? ›

And move forward they do—into the Mastery stage of teaching, which is characterized by a strong sense of responsibility and a passion for the work. One secret of Mastery-level teachers is that they never forget learning is for them as well as for their students. Tips for Mastering the Mastery Stage. Be proactive.

What is a mastery level? ›

Mastery levels indicate how well you understand specific topics. Mastery levels clearly reveal which topics you have mastered and which topics you need to study further.

What are the five 5 steps in the mastery approach in instructions? ›

Here are five steps to help you plan, implement and embed mastery approaches.
  1. 1, Mastering mastery. ...
  2. 2, Changing mindsets. ...
  3. 3, Creating an action plan. ...
  4. 4, Teacher training. ...
  5. 5, Continuing your commitment. ...
  6. Further information.
Mar 14, 2019

How to get mastery level 5? ›

Earning CP will allow you to gain Mastery Levels (up to level 5) in that champion and earn rewards as you progress. Points are based on your performance, your team's performance, the length of the game, win vs. loss, and a few other factors. You can see how much CP you earn at the end of each game.

What is the fifth skill? ›

In general, culture as the fifth skill emphasizes the learner's ability to perceive, to understand, and ultimately, to accept cultural relativity. To grasp what cultural relativity means, consider a simple social act such as giving flowers.

What are the 5 essential keys to mastery? ›

The five keys to mastery: Instruction, Practice, Surrender, Intentionality, and The Edge. On learning: For mastering most skills, there's nothing better than being in the hands of a master teacher.

Who developed the 4 stages of learning? ›

A Journey through the Four Stages of Learning (Developed by Noel Burch)

What are the 5 main types of learning? ›

What are the different types of learners?
  • Visual learners.
  • Auditory (or aural) learners.
  • Kinesthetic (or hands-on) learners.
  • Reading and writing learners.
May 6, 2019

What are the 4 stages of competence? ›

The Four Stages of Competence are a learning model that describes the various psychological stages we go through when learning a new skill: Unconscious competence (ignorance), conscious incompetence (awareness), conscious competence (learning) and unconscious competence (mastery).

What are key stages 4 and 5? ›

Key stages
Child's ageYearKey stage
4 to 5ReceptionEarly years
5 to 6Year 1KS1
6 to 7Year 2KS1
7 to 8Year 3KS2
9 more rows

What are the six stages of mastery? ›

The six stages are: Education, Engagement, Empathy, Excitement, Empowerment and Endearment. As one moves through the stages, relationships become deeper and more productive.

What is the mastery method? ›

Mastery learning approaches aim to ensure that all pupils have mastered key concepts before moving on to the next topic – in contrast with traditional teaching methods in which pupils may be left behind, with gaps of misunderstanding widening.

What is an example of mastery? ›

We were impressed by her mastery of the subject. She achieved a complete mastery of French. He struggled to gain mastery of his fears.

What are the three stages of mastery? ›

In his book Mastery, Robert Greene identifies three stages in the journey: apprenticeship, creative-active, and mastery. Greene's theory of mastery rejects the Romantic Genius idea because it puts too much emphasis on “natural” talent.

How many mastery levels are there? ›

You can choose from 72 unique Mastery Levels, with the ability to upgrade each up to 20 times.

What are the 3 steps to mastery? ›

There's a clear path towards mastery in anything if one has the discipline to follow through. It consists of three primary stages: attention, acquisition, and ascension.

What is the first step in the 5 steps of training? ›

Training can be viewed as a process comprised of five related stages or activities: assessment, motivation, design, delivery, and evaluation.

What is the five by five approach? ›

The five by five rule means you shouldn't spend more than five minutes worrying about something that won't matter in five years. A few months ago I found this quote. Simply stated; quit worrying about the little things.

Why is mastery important? ›

Students who master material in a lesson can more easily learn new material. The skills and concepts students acquire provide a very strong foundation for learning new skills and concepts. Students' self-esteem increases when they master material presented to them.

How many points is mastery 5? ›

Levels 1 to 5
LevelCP RequiredCumulative CP Required
1 more row

How do you level up mastery? ›

To increase Mastery Rank, a player must earn Mastery Points through the following methods: Ranking Weapons, Kitgun Chambers, Zaw Strikes, Amp Prisms, Sentinel weapons, and Archwing weapons will earn 100 mastery points for each rank gained up to Rank 30 for a total of 3,000.

What are the 5 characteristics of skill? ›

These 5 characteristics should guide the measurement of performance and learning.
  • Improvement. Can the person perform the skill at a higher level?
  • Consistency. Is performance becoming increasingly more consistent?
  • Stability. ...
  • Persistence. ...
  • Adaptability.
Oct 6, 2018

What is viewing as a fifth skill in the classroom? ›

4. Viewing as the fifth skill. 'Viewing' means understanding and being able to analyse visual media, like videos, diagrams, photos, and so on.

What is the order of the 4 skills? ›

When we say that someone 'speaks' a language fluently, we usually mean that they have a high level in all four skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing.

What is Type 5 learning style? ›

5. Kinesthetic Learning. Aside from audio visual learning styles, we have kinesthetic learning, which involves the use of the different senses to take in information. It is also referred to as experiential learning, which is the process of learning by doing.

What is the 5th stage of literacy development? ›

5. Advanced Reading. At the last stage of literacy development, readers can comprehend long and complex text without assistance. They're also able to find on their own books and other printed material that's relevant to a specific topic.

What is the rule of 5 learning? ›

“The Rule of 5” states that you must say five encouraging remarks to the child before you can say something negative. This formula comes from a simple idea that every parent or teacher would acknowledge: even children with good self-worth take corrections as criticisms.

What are the characteristics of the fifth stage? ›

The fifth stage of life is adulthood. In this stage, man becomes justice. Here man is full of wise sayings and instances. The man at this stage do and support the right things.


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