Do you remember learning to ride a bike?
When you were very young, you probably noticed other kids riding bikes and thought very little of it. As you got older, you started noticing kids your age riding bikes and having fun. Maybe you started to bug your parents to teach you. When you got around to it, you screwed it up. Fell down a lot. When you were on the bike, you constantly over corrected. As you got more practice, you probably started having fun with it. After a while, it became routine and you stopped thinking about it.
Gregory Bateson came up with a with a model of learning that helps explain how we learn new things. In stages, it is:
Unconcious Incompetence. You can’t ride a bicycle and you aren’t aware that you can’t.
Concious Incompetence. You still can’t ride a bicycle but at least you know you can’t. You probably fall on your ass a lot.
Conscious Competence. You can ride a bicycle but you still need to think about it. You probably engage in a lot of over-correction when you steer. You probably take a lot of joy in riding.
Unconscious Competence. You can ride a bicycle and you don’t need to think about it at all.
Mastery. You have access to all the levels of learning at the same time. Usually this happens when you have to teach something.
This is not to say that learning is a linear progression. You can cycle between levels. Maybe when you get a new bike, you need to go back a step. Riding a bike is a relatively simple skill, as well. More complex learning means more recursion; more looping between levels.
Additionally, there is another level. It is intellectualization. Intellectualization is what happens when you internalize the learning but don’t actually do anything with it. There is no outward expression of the learning. It is a dead end of sorts.