For video version go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhPSa25QxYI
It is only a theory right? All about those ivory towers disconnected from reality? Or is it something more? Is there some mutual ground between theory and practice? So, now let us explore the relationship between theory and practice aka. The Real World.
1. Theory is Good, since we need Categories to avoid Information Overload
One key difference between theory and practice is that the former views the world through categories, while the latter thinks in terms of multidimensional continuums. To use an example, we theoretically distinguish between ice, water and gas, but the reality is that those three categories essentially only reflect our human need for simplicity. Snow and all the variants of it, further add complexity. In reality, there is a virtually infinite number of potential categories between those three forms of water. So what is my point you ask? Well, the huge benefit of theory is that it can distill the infinite complexity of practice/reality into manageable chunks of information. Our language is limited, and its vocabulary finesse is reflective of our cognitive abilities. An alien species with twice our intelligence would have allot more nuanced categories than us, and a closer link between theory and practice/reality.
2. Theories are more Replicable than Practice
Replicability is incredibly important. That is, a certain recipe/instruction/rule should give the same results regardless of who, when and where it is tested. The big problem with practice and street smarts, is that it is often very hard for others to use such rules of wisdom and get the same results. The reason for this is that the phenomena was not studied scientifically, and hence we do not know which variables accounted for the chain of events.
3. Theory and Practice can Join Forces Successfully
We currently have a big difference between theory and practice on many subjects; however, it is fully possible to join forces! The relationship between theory and practice is very close in medical school, business school and other scientific branches with a long history of cooperation between theoreticians and practitioners. It is fully possible for such scientific fields like history, philosophy, and sociology to actually make it allot more relevant for practice. On the other hand, the labor market should communicate more clearly what it expects from theoreticians. To use an example, instead of teaching history students allot about WWII and other irrelevant topics, what about making some courses on the history of financial crises, immigration, crisis management etc. ?
So, there you have it, three things that explain the theory and practice difference. What is your experience with this discrepancy?
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