Practical knowledge can be defined as “knowledge attained through action” while theoretical knowledge is “knowledge attained through established facts or thoughts.” One of my favorite quotes on this matter is from the recently deceased Yogi Berra, an American professional baseball catcher, manager, and coach. Yogi was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. In addition, he was famous for his paradoxical quotes.
We are living in exponential times and knowledge is at the center of it. By the time you graduate, the skills you learned in college will be outdated and it does not stop there. Before you even feel like you have mastered your current job, you will probably transition to a new job or even a new career. The typical person changes jobs 10 to 15 times during his or her working career. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that people born between 1957 and 1964 held an average of 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 51. Training will be your constant companion, and your ability to learn, apply, and relearn will be your most important skill.
Knowledge Begins as Practical Experience
The first lesson in practical knowledge is that you must make room for it. As we attain theoretical knowledge through formal education, we can get caught up in a false sense of thinking that our learning is complete. Do not fall into that trap. You will really understand that the first time you go out to the field you are side-by-side with your colleagues who are pushing the boundaries. They tackle obstacles and challenges every day. It becomes part of their nature; it becomes natural and instinctive. That is what you want to learn from them. It is important to remember that “openness and humility” are the real signs of intelligence. People will not share their valuable knowledge and experience with you otherwise.