Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Experience or Learning: Which is the better teacher?

Conventional wisdom touts that experience is the best teacher. A child once burned will have learned how to handle fire the next time. Okay, well and good. But which is better? A child is in a situation where it can observe other children – those playing with fire. He observes their action and reaction. Don’t you think that child will have learned his lesson without having to undergo being burned? Learning also teaches without necessarily bringing in any corresponding hurt or pain.

And that I believe is the better path to take in life. Learn your valuable lessons from the hapless experiences of others. Far from just engaging in trial and error methods, learn first how others are doing it and then do your turn. Aside from plain recklessness, laziness, or too much daring, in many instances one finds ego behind many ill-fated decisions one makes. Pride and arrogance at times take the better of one, rather than the humble attempt find out from others how things are done better.

Perish conventional wisdom in this regard. Many of us may not have the convenient second chances needed to correct our mistakes, and thus, miss out completely on certain things that could have been had by learning from others.

Thus, for a child growing up this is where parental guidance plays a most crucial role, teaching kids to learn first before embarking on pursuits that could have long-term disastrous effects on their lives. Of course, in most instances the learning will have to be accompanied by real-life examples originating from the parents or role models. Instructive words are half of the equation, the other half being the examples to round out and complete the lesson.

Imagine the many instances where a child can profit immeasurably from lessons learned prior to experience. The lesser the pitfalls he has to recover from the better the life of that child. And thus he can reserve his extra energies to more daunting challenges where the chances of success are even slimmer. Pick your fights. Life has more than enough challenges to contend with. Keep always a leg or a step up. We are all bound to need that extra push, resource, or hand when the greater challenges come.

So remember, learning is the better teacher. Learning also invites the needed cautiousness and circumspection in tackling the meatier challenges of life. Thus, place yourself in a position where you can profit most from lessons learned prior to actual experience.

Weren’t parenting and then schooling intended primarily for that purpose? In the haste and clutter of everyday life, sometimes we just plumb forget.