Sunday, April 18, 2010

Knowledge and experience

"Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience."

Imagine two pingpong players. One of them spends all his time studying the game from text, and the other one spends the same amount of time playing. It's fairly obvious who will become more knowledgeable on the game. This applies to pretty much everything in life. In order for information to become knowledge, one needs to experience it.

A person who seeks knowledge through information will never truly understand. Meaning, you can never truly learn something by just reading or listening. The stories are limitless. How many people change their presumed perspective on a topic once they gained experience in it? How many technologies were thought to be completely useless or impractical before they became an essential part of everyday life?

A lot of people grow ignorant, because they ignore their experiences instead of taking the opportunity to learn as much as they can from them, or in other cases, they would focus on avoiding mistakes rather than learning. A crucial part of gaining experience is making mistakes, and if we don't acknowledge our mistakes and ponder them, we won't learn.

Unfortunately, in most cases, schools tend to teach students to learn from our textbooks and lectures. They tend to teach them to strive for academic success by absorbing as much information as possible, instead of striving to be of value by creating their own knowledge through experience. Although students are taught to solve as many problems as we can in some subjects, the amount of experience they gain is limited by the consequences set for making mistakes, and hence, the discouragement of creativity. Granted, it's a complex matter, and the educational system all over the world still has a lot of evolving to go through.

This why academic success does not necessarily lead to the success of one's career, and lack of academic success does not always lead to the failure of one's career; in fact, a surprising number of great people were actually academic failures. But that's not to say that schools do more harm than good. As long as we are aware and willing, it's not too hard to gain knowledge from what we study.

Albert Einstein once said: "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Imagination is a powerful tool that can be used to gain knowledge from our experiences, and even others' experiences. If I were incapable of creating my own experience, then I resort to listening to, reading about, and ultimately imagining, the experiences of others. If I wanted to learn about a certain job for example, I'd ask others who've had a similar job to share their physical and psychological experience, and then imagine it, and imagine myself in his or her place, and then I'd be able to make a fair judgment whether this job is suitable for me or not. This is a far better way than to gain as much information as possible about the job.

No comments:

Post a Comment