The Value of Theoretical Knowledge and Practical Skills In today’s age of fierce competition, parents are more focused and concerned about their child’s education than ever before. But how do you define education? Is it just about burdening students with bookish knowledge? Or driving them to rote study without any understanding? Or attaining high grades the only objective of education? For sure, your answer will be “None of the above”. The aim of education is to learn and attain skills to lead a fulfilled life ever after. Learning helps mould an individual’s character and bring out the best in him/her thereby readying him for real life situations. Learning is a process related to different ways of gaining knowledge and acquiring skills. But the topic of debate for parents, students and educators alike, in today’s times is what type of education we should emphasize more on – theoretical knowledge or practical skills? Which out of these two is more benefiting for the student and what should we value more? While some favour the old-age theoretical ways, many others may believe that practical education must be given more importance as it teaches more effectively making the student understand and retain the concept better.
We enter this debate with the basic point that a person’s competence is described by both his knowledge as well as skills. While knowledge is the process of learning concepts, principles and information regarding a particular subject(s) through books, media, encyclopedias, academic institutions and other sources; a skill refers to the ability of using that knowledge and applying it in a context. But in real life what matters is not the amount of practical experience or
theoretical background that an individual has. What matters is how much an individual is able to effectively deal with the realities around him. Theory and practical experience are complementary means to that end. Theoretical knowledge has its own importance in learning. Theory teaches you through the experience of others. A sound theoretical base is of utmost importance for gaining practical knowledge. Anything done practically without theoretical knowledge backing it, can turn dangerous at times. Theoretical knowledge explains the why factor at the back of any situation and technique of working. A simple example of a student preparing to become a doctor can explain this better. Nobody would accept or allow a student to practice, even on a corpse, without a sound theoretical understanding of the same. We take the same example forward to explain the importance of practical learning. Now this same medical student who has learned a particular concept in theory is made to practice it on a corpse to help him better understand how things actually look and work. Further, after passing out of medical school, the new doctor initially assists senior doctors to get a first-hand practical experience in the real domain. Thus practical knowledge is important to understand how things actually work. It is the tool of deeper understanding of the concepts through the act of doing and personal experience. Especially in the professional education scenario practical knowledge helps in the deep understanding of the concepts along with the origin and the importance of the facts learned through theoretical knowledge. Both practical and theoretical learning thus go hand in hand and each has their own importance. Both theoretical knowledge and practical skills are necessary to master a field. So for a complete learning experience one should gain both practical and theoretical knowledge. And this is the mantra, the essence of new-age schools – to present a curriculum that combines a theoretical background with a practical approach to learning. The Paras World School, in sector 50, Gurgaon is one such school that propagates active learning through their curriculum named ‘istreamm’ which is designed by effecting 6 most constructive approaches for the total development of children. Here, mentally active learning of ideas-and-skills occur through a wide variety of thought-stimulating activities, ranging from theoretical learning of ideas that are explained in a book, lecture or video; to learning the practical way by discovery as in doing an experiment, or in design projects and other kinds of problem solving. To know more about the school, its vision, curriculum, faculty etc. please visit Paras World School.