At a conference of developmental educators today, I learned something from one of the speakers. If a person is a novice — a student was given as the example — that person could be considered “unconsciously incompetent.” If a person is an expert — a professor was given as the example — that person could be considered “unconsciously competent.”
Not having heard this pairing of “unconscious” with variants of competence before, I looked them up in a web search. These phrases are used commonly, in more fields than higher education. (Laparoscopy is one.)
And while I do not want to be treated, should it ever come to that, by an inexperienced laparoscopist, I’ve always found it fun to be a novice, and to teach them. Not unconscious, not incompetent. More like conscious, and on our way to somewhere we haven’t yet reached.