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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Theoretical knowledge vs practical skills

Two words that describe a person's competence are, knowledge and skills. Knowledge refers to learning concepts, principles and information regarding a particular subject(s) by a person through books, media, encyclopedias, academic institutions and other sources.

A skill refers to the ability of using that information and applying it in a context. But, which is more important, Theoretical Knowledge or Practical Skills? It is a question that has been discussed frequently.

"The obvious sources to increase one's knowledge are through reading books and through practical experience", says Sanjiv Kumar, Vice President & Group Head, HR, People Group.

"It's important to realize that in the workplace, 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 just complementary means to that end."
Rohtas Goel, CMD, Omaxe Ltd explains, 'Both practical and theoretical experiences go hand in hand and each has their own significance. At every level, in an organisation, where theoretical experience helps the individual to comprehend the basic notions, practical knowledge enables them to execute plans and strategies in the most effective manner.'

A large number of companies in India are imparting practical training to job seekers as well as the existing employees. In Real Estate sector, Goel stresses the necessity for professionals like architects, strategists, urban planners and civil engineers to undergo specific training program to further refine their skills.

'Also, a focused approach for advertising, finance and marketing people would enable them to achieve goals in less time,' he adds.

Few companies are very much concerned about the overall development. They have rigorous employee orientation programs, seminars & workshops for nurturing the talent. Some companies have the perception that the employees will learn to swim if he/she is thrown in the ocean. So they directly deploy the employees on the battle field.

Learning: Combination of Practical & Theoretical Knowledge


“To know, is to know that you know nothing, that is the meaning of true knowledge” rightly said by Socrates. Learning itself has a very vast meaning and is directly related to different ways of acquiring knowledge. Practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge both are important phases of learning. Perfect combination of both practical and theoretical methods is necessary for holistic learning.

Learning is a process rather than a collection of realistic and technical knowledge. Learning produces changes in an individual and the changes produced are relatively permanent. Learning acquired through reading books, taking classes, tuition's, media, encyclopedias, academic institutions and other sources etc. is theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge is something which we gain from life experiences and with real situations. Sitting in a classroom and discussing on a certain topic is totally different thing from experiencing the same work which we read in a lesson on work field. Learning during internship is the best way of acquiring knowledge by using both practical and theoretical aspects of a thing or situation.
Theoretical knowledge has its own importance in the learning. Theoretical knowledge is the base of doing anything practically. Anything done practically without the theoretical knowledge will be dangerous sometime. Theoretical knowledge explains the why factor at the back of any situation and technique of working. Where self education is concerned theory prepares you to set a direction for your future education. Theory teaches you through the experience of others.

Practical knowledge assists us to attain the exact techniques that become the tools of our job. It is much closer to our actual daily tasks. Practical knowledge and application skills are essential to survive in this competitive world today. It 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. It is helpful in demonstrating the actual way of working and way of handling. 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. Sometimes there are some intricate lessons which are not easy to communicate at that point, so practically demonstrating the things will be helpful in proper understanding. That’s why practical training is beneficial to both the trainer and the learner.

Theoretical learning is what the knowledge is about and the practical learning is how the knowledge was learned. In today’s modern education or training programs, focus is on quickly and effectively learning. The mode of practical learning along with theory gives students clear and contrast explanations about the facts. Theory teaches about the experiences of others while practically experiencing the particular task one can learn about their own experiences with that task. Philosophically, knowledge is intangible but practical experience made it tangible by applying those skills in day to day practice.

Both practical and theoretical experiences go hand in hand and each has their own importance. Both theoretical knowledge and practical skills are necessary to master a field. Theoretical learning gives the guidance to the mind and mind guides our body to convert that theoretical learning into practical performance. Theoretical learning is good but not using that knowledge practically is of no use. Hence it is very important to utilize the knowledge practically; otherwise there is no point to gain theoretical knowledge. So to have perfect learning experience one should gain both practical and theoretical knowledge.