IELTS Speaking

Tell us about a thing you try to unlearn.

Growing up as an Asian in general and a Vietnamese in specific, I understand the importance of etiquette usually manifested with shades of “respect”, “good manners”, and “docile”. This issue may be rigid but not completely wrong. However, it still affects people’s awareness about raising their own voices, especially the young that should have many ambitions and the desire to prove themselves. Therefore, to start sharing something I try to unlearn, I would choose to give up the conception of being an obedient person.

While learning is known as the process of acquiring new knowledge, skills, attitudes, etc., to unlearn is to do the opposite: forfeit and lose old understanding. I have grown up being taught to be a good child that always obeys my parent’s or olders’ orders. Coming to the choice of forsaking other people’s thoughts, obedience is not a way to show a disrespectful attitude but express my own feelings and opinions.

When a child gets a compliment like: “They are such a good obedient girl/boy!”, the real situation is that the child is totally listening and does what adults tell them to do with no questioning or denial. Then when you become an adolescent, having your own vision, and gaining a great deal of experience, do you still want to be like that “good obedient child” who always acts like what other people want? From my own perspective, submissive expressions belong to those who can not stand on their own, do not have enough bravery to raise their voice, and lack the courage to confirm their position in life.

The power of unlearning the act of listening to other people is not to be underestimated. Going the opposite way compared to the crowd, you can become the pioneer of your creative ideas, so that would be able to bring change to the world. Having your own voice, you are able to convince other people, receive respect and have a certain position in life. Independent thinking also allows you to come up with a plethora of marvelous discoveries, and train your critical thinking to approach problems in a consistent and systematic way.

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If there were no act of unlearning many harmful thoughts such as prejudice, unequal, and constraint, how can a variety of movements such as fighting for gender equality emerge? Women would never have been entitled to participate in social issues and had to obey men’s requests if they had not unlearned the public thoughts in those days. The same situation was for the black. If they had followed the way white people assumed them are inferior, the racist ideologies would have continued. Women and the black, are not born to submit themselves to anyone and they chose to unlearn the dictate that others gave to them.

In Vietnam, we have a proverb: “First learn proper behavior, then learn book knowledge” which also became a widely-known objective for schools. However, that sentence has recently received many conflicting opinions saying it would expand the distance between the teacher and the students and avoiding them to have a comfortable discussion. This is also said to be the reason why Vietnamese students are too scared to speak out and lack guidance. From my own perspective, I still doubt a couple of points in this notion. Because no matter how liberal, respect for the other is always a requirement of any culture. Being bold does not mean losing your standards and general rules of morality. So the key here is to balance the way you raise your opinion and your respectful attitude toward others.

In conclusion, unlearning is new learning. By unlearning to become an obedient person, you learn how to share your ideas, have independent thoughts, and become a leader who can pursue others with your confident and unique personal identity.

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