About experience and the difference between practical and theoretical learning

Let me tell you a little story.

When I was about ten years old my mum wanted me to go to a course where I should learn to use a keyboard with ten fingers efficiently. Because, well, it was useful at that time and it should be such an effective system. I refused and said that I had done it several years without this system and I would be fine. She on the other hand attended and after  completing the course, she came back to show me how great it worked and to prove me wrong. Without surprise I could write not only a lot faster, but without making as many mistakes as she did. Why was that? Not because the course was bad, not even because the system was bad. Just because she had good theoretical information with little practice and I had basically no theoretical knowledge whatsoever but loads of practical infield experience. I learned typing by trial-and-error, I learned it by chatting, by surfing the web and by writing articles. That is why it felt easy to me, it felt natural. My mother, on the other hand, had her mind in the way. The mind hat to control the body, it had to “tell” the hands what they had to do, while my hands knew it for themselves.

When it comes to learning there are two “institutions” of yourself that you have to teach: the mind and the body. Take riding a bike for example: You are told how to ride it but then you have to experience it for yourself in order to really learn it. This applies to everything you do!

So who is fit? The coach who has a lot of knowledge about fitness in his head? Or the players who learn about fitness by using their mind and their bodies at the same time?

Your mind is capable of storing information and understanding new concepts. Then it can proceed to apply these new concepts and to teach them to the body, tell it what to do. That means that theoretical learning lacks the step of teaching the body. In chronological order you would have to teach the mind first and then the mind has to teach the body when it comes to theoretical learning.

In practical learning on the other hand, you learn by experience. You learn by doing things over and over again. That is why some people without any formal education can outperform educated scholars because they have tons of experience on their hands.

There lies the big difference: While after theoretical learning your mind has to guide your body to perform and the body still has to learn. Practical learning on the other hand combines both. That is why practical learning is the only way of learning!

Don’t stuff your head with useless information. Practise and turn that information into useful knowledge!

Event theoretical learning must lead to experience, must lead to action. Only action can transform knowledge into wisdom and education is only good and acceptable if it leads inevitably into action!

Even when it comes to abstract things, that take place in your mind, math for example. You can read or hear about the processes that work there, but in order to fully understand them, in order to be able to use them in an efficient way, you have to work with them, and you have to apply them over and over again.

So in conclusion don’t think you have learned something just because you heard/read about it in school, in a class or in a book. You have learned nothing until you are capable of applying it in the real world. “I know how to do that” is not a valid way of expressing that you can handle something. So go out there and practise, practise, practise! Turn your theoretical knowledge, which can be really good, into practical knowledge, which is equal to pure gold!



6 thoughts on “About experience and the difference between practical and theoretical learning

  1. Pingback: Practise! | Motivatingdaily – Your source for daily motivation

  2. Pingback: Get active! | Motivatingdaily – Your source for daily motivation

  3. This is fantastic! I’m doing a speech in favor of practical learning at school! This has been a great help-cheers!

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