90 days of unlearning and learning
Over the last 23 years of my life, I have been able to study in India, USA and now Canada. Each education system I have been a part of has helped me learn in different ways. Every time I switched an education system, the first couple of months are particularly challenging in terms of un-learning old studying and learning habits and learning new ones. In addition to switching education systems when I moved to Canada, I was also switching from STEM-based education to Business-based education for the first time in my life. I knew this was going to take considerable unlearning from some of the learning heuristics I was used to during my engineering undergraduate education.
Chemical Engineering Professor – “Here is a problem, there are multiple ways to solve it, but there is only one right answer”
Ivey Professor – “Here is a problem, there are multiple ways to solve it, and there are multiple right answers”
I think over the last 22 years of my life, the goal of the education system I was in was to get answers to problems where there was only one right answer. Whether it be completing High School in India or complete my undergraduate degree in the US, the only way to excel was to get the one right answer to the problems presented to me. The thought process or reasoning behind every step I took didn’t matter as much as the result.
The last 90 days have been unlearning habits from my engineering education and learning new habits from my Ivey education. I remember during the first week of classes, we were discussing a case in class and one of the students suggested a final recommendation completely different from what I thought would have been the right answer. All I could think was, “No way is this the right answer to the case, it has to be wrong” but the professor mentioned that it was a keen insight, and it is something the company should consider. After the class, as I reflected on what we had learnt, that recommendation still didn’t seem right; but the student had backed it up with the facts from the case and how it would help the company. That’s when I realized that it isn’t just the final answer that matters anymore. What matters more is the thought process that goes into building the final answer and how to justify that final answer.
Chemical Engineering Professor – “Here is the material, I will show you what it is and then you can prepare after class”
Ivey Professor – “Here is the material, here are the associated readings and case, prepare them before you come to class”
In all the classes I have taken in the past, material was presented to me first during lecture and then I would go home to try and figure out the key takeaways from the lecture. In Ivey, things were done a little differently. We were given a list of readings to teach us the core concepts for the class and then based on that we prepared a case that we would discuss during the lecture. Now, this method was the complete opposite from the way I studied over the last 5 years but over the last 90 days I have come to realize that it is the best way to learn.
Case based learning and the way Ivey professors conduct their classes have been a catalyst for learning and making sure I understand the concepts from each class better. More importantly, my recall of the classes has improved as well because of this method.
The last 90 days have been a series of unlearning and learning to adjust to this program but in the most positive way possible. I always look for opportunities to learn and improve myself; attending Ivey has enabled me to do that. I cannot wait to see what the remaining days in the program have in store for me.