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Theoretical Knowledge Vs Practical Knowledge: Differences, Practical Application and More

Theoretical Knowledge Vs Practical Knowledge: Differences, Practical Application and More

What do you expect your child to learn in school?

Memorizing facts? Mugging up historical dates?


Knowing the steps of a germination process?


Our expectations as parents today have surpassed theoretical knowledge. Because we acknowledge the transformative impact of practical knowledge in this complex world.

Over a while, there is a major shift in the perspectives on a student’s learning process. From abstract to concrete, and knowledge to skills, education is more about going beyond theoretical knowledge to build practical judgment abilities in students.

Theoretical and practical are two completely different approaches to knowledge. However, we still need both these approaches in our educational planning to create a holistic learning experience.

In this write-up, we will help teachers and stakeholders discover more about theoretical knowledge vs practical knowledge. This information will further help them strike the right balance between these approaches.

Look no further, read on!

What is Theoretical Knowledge?

A theoretical explanation is based on one’s abstract principles or ideas. Similarly, theoretical knowledge is about possessing ideas about a subject without any practical experience.

Theory is an essential foundation for learning. Because without theoretical knowledge, there is no possibility of putting any information into practice (and gaining practical experience). In the formal education system, our students gain an understanding of theoretical concepts through books, online resources (videos), and classroom explanations (lectures, demonstrations. etc.).

Let’s move on to the practical aspect of knowledge now.

What is Practical Knowledge?

The word practical is associated with experience (from real life). And practical knowledge is gained through first-hand tasks, day-to-day activities, and real-life endeavors. Applying knowledge to practical situations helps students to build connections across the information and experience. Our students can acquire practical knowledge by ‘DOING’. This way, they can apply the fundamental understanding developed through theoretical knowledge in a given scenario (real world).

It’s time to discover the actual differences between theory and practice.

Theoretical Knowledge Vs Practical Knowledge

Theoretical Knowledge  Practical Knowledge
Based on ideas Based on application
Involves concepts and principles Implementing knowledge in the real world
Gained through reading, and research Involves hands-on experience
Helps in creating new information Creates practical solutions


Theoretical Knowledge Vs Practical Knowledge

Why is Practical Knowledge Important for Students?

21st-century skills

Practical knowledge is the foundation for workplace success. However, our Indian students often fail to acquire the right skills at the right time. As per Global Business Coalition for Education data (GBC-Education), only 47% of the Indian youth be able to reach their learning outcomes by 2030. Comparatively, countries like Bhutan (81%) and Sri Lanka (68%) seem to be highly promising in this regard.

Countries By 2019  Projection for 2030
Bhutan 47% 81%
Sri Lanka 61% 68%
Bangladesh 26% 55%
India 19% 47%
Maldives 16% 46%
Nepal 13% 46%
Pakistan 18% 40%


country wise learning outcomes projections by 2030

Developing Wisdom

Experts suggest that inquisitiveness, expanding understanding, and acquiring knowledge help in developing wisdom. This wisdom makes an individual compassionate, empathetic, and open-minded. Eventually, wise individuals experience a sense of fulfillment in their personal and professional lives.

Theoretical and practical knowledge complement each other throughout the learning process. So why not create a balancing act and make our classrooms efficient enough to bridge these gaps?

Let’s discover how.

Ways to Bridge the Gap Between Theoretical and Practical Knowledge (In Traditional or Online Schools)

Create Opportunities and Cement Understanding

 In the present educational landscape, passive learning is obsolete. Give students an opportunity to complete projects independently. Incorporate elements like feedback, and stage-wise explanations. Cement understanding with open-ended questions and add brainstorming sessions for wholesome learning. And take the learning to a practical level.

These strategies will help you bridge the gaps that stem from theoretical knowledge vs practical knowledge.

Integrate Practical Skills Beyond the Curriculum

Think of some practical skills in everyday life that add value to our personalities.

Gardening, first aid, taking care of the sick, entrepreneurial skills, working in a team, etc. are some of the essentials for great minds. Plan your classroom learning by strengthening theoretical knowledge and once students reach a level of mastery, hone these skills through real-life examples, role plays, tasks, etc. All this will help students understand the context and application part better.

Facilitate Experiential Learning

Have you ever seen students complain that they know how to bake a cake, but haven’t tried baking it in real?

This is the difference between theoretical knowledge vs practical knowledge.

Introduce experiential learning to strengthen the ties between theory and practical. Let students perform tasks in groups so that they learn collaboratively through their practical work. Some examples of experiential learning are lab work, games, puzzles, gardening, and role plays. You can also refer to the virtual resources used by top online schools  to enrich experiential classroom learning.

Balance Learning with a Range of Activities

While written exams are perfect for gauging the student’s theoretical knowledge, activities and projects are equally important. In the fast-paced globalized workforce, our students will need jobs that are irreplaceable by AI.

These practical learning opportunities are a great pedestal to hone relevant skills for the future. Encouraging activities that include real-life problem solving, involve out-of-the-box thinking, and allow reflective thinking empower students with a growth mindset. This will give them an edge (competitive advantage) in the future. And also bridges the theoretical vs practical knowledge gap.

Project work, debates, and open-ended question-and-answer rounds are some excellent examples that help in building these futuristic skills in students. Try to incorporate activities in everyday learning.

Do you know that creative thinking is the most top-rated skill for businesses that is expected to grow faster in the next 4 years (by 73%)?

Similarly, 70% of employers believe that analytical thinking is a sought-after skill that will be in high demand in the upcoming 3 years.

most in demand skills

Quick Tips for Teachers/Stakeholders

  • Help students explore real-world scenarios through discussions
  • Allocate more practical work to support skill-building
  • Share constructive feedback with relevant examples
  • Get students working in groups
  • Promote inquisitiveness
  • Prepare lesson plans with innovative approaches that promote inquiry learning
  • Create informal assessments (formative) that solidify life skills and theories.

Final Thoughts

 We can always debate about the importance of theoretical vs practical knowledge for students. However, in reality, both theory and practice are imperative for a sound learning process. Unleash your creative side as a teacher/stakeholder. And introduce your students to practical knowledge after building a good theoretical foundation.

Thanks for Reading!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is theoretical knowledge important?
    Theoretical knowledge builds the basic foundation of learning and understanding. One can practically apply knowledge only after understanding the theoretical part/facts/details.
  • Why is practical knowledge important?
    Practical knowledge allows an individual to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. This helps in building competencies to perform tasks in the real world.
  • How do you gain theoretical knowledge?
    Books, and other sources of information like educational videos, websites, etc. can be used to gain theoretical knowledge.
  • How do you gain Practical knowledge?
    Hands-on activities, real-life experiences, and learning by doing are some common ways of gaining practical knowledge.

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