When our team entered the classroom on a warm afternoon in August they were expecting to see kids listening to a class lecture, but what they experienced was amazing. They sat in the back of the room, impressed by the charts and diagrams that filled the walls, and even more impressed listening to the young students debate the merits of theoretical vs. practical learning.
Practical knowledge is acquired by day-to-day hands-on experiences, through doing things. It is very much based on real-life endeavors and tasks. On the other hand, theoretical knowledge teaches the reasoning, techniques and theory of knowledge. While practical knowledge is gained by doing things, theoretical knowledge is gained, for example, by reading a manual or taking a class. One online author explains it this way…
Practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge are two completely distinct approaches to knowledge. While theoretical knowledge may guarantee that you understand the fundamental concepts and have know-how about how something works and its mechanism, it will only get you so far, as, without practice, one is not able to perform the activity as well as he could. Practical knowledge guarantees that you are able to actually do something instead of simply knowing how to do it.
Now that we are clear on the differences, let me return to the classroom in Katovu, a small village where Africa Renewal has a Child Development Program. This conversation took place at a Center Day which occurs on specific Saturdays throughout the year. To see the maturity and confidence of these kids speaks volumes about the level of education they are receiving, as well as the relational development that is happening in their community. Many of our American educated students would struggle to debate such a challenging topic, yet these kids bantered with each other effortlessly, not intimidated by the visitors in the small classroom. The teacher led the class with grace, not overbearing or controlling, but with a view to see their lives transformed. That is happening in our CDP programs every day in ways small and large, and it’s a joy to be able to share their success with them. We invite you to visit Uganda and see for yourself!