Dangers of theory without practice
Author: Mohammed Nazari

When in 12th grade, there was a 30 page chapter on pine tree life cycle.

On the way from our house to my high school there were almost 1000 pine trees and fallen pine cones all over. In local language the pine cones were called "ghouz kalghak". As kids we throw these pine cone at each other.

Two years after i had finished the high school and in the second year at the university, it happened that someone told me that pine cone was the same  "ghouz kalaghak". I was shocked. I never knew these two were the same. Was I the only one? I was one of the best students after all.

I had spent multiple hours studying the cycle of life of the Pine tree and how one pine cone would become a pine tree. I had answered several questions on the subject. But I'did not know that pine cone was the same "ghouz kalaghak".

After some time I gained the courage to ask some three other previous high school classmates if they knew that these two were the same. Two friends didn't know while the third one was not quite sure.

There were no clear picture of the tree nor the pine cone in the whole 30 page chapter. Our teacher had never tried to bring one pine cone-"ghouz kalaghak" to the class while teaching that chapter. Thousands of those pine cones were fallen all over including the school yard.

We learned how to memorize things without being offered or asking for more explanation?

At times I wonder if our teacher knew  "ghouz kalaghak" was the same pine cone!

This was not the only incident. Again in high school, to clarify my understanding on "molecule attraction" in water, once I asked our chemistry teacher, "Am I breaking the molecule attractions when I insert my finger in the water?" With a very demeaning smirk, he answered "Do you think you can break those tiny molecule attractions by inserting your finger in the water? All of the students laughed at me. I replied, " Then how can I insert my finger in the water? Shouldnt then water be solid?

Yes, my high school teacher with a bachelor degree in chemistry, did not know what molecule attraction is in a practical way.

Lack of practical education, is not only useless but also dangerous since it will convince us to be ok with no practical implication and having useless information.

Stopping at theory and not taking it to a practical level equals stopping to ask "why", "how" and "What for". Killing the idea of critical thinking in us, in all other aspects in life. Memorizing without a purpose to do something with that information.

Theory: how many teeth the horse should have
Practice: counting the horse teeth

Theoretical teaching is simply reading the theory. Practical teaching is a sense of how it works in the real world and how we can use that theory.
Theory can be read, you don't need an instructor while for practical learning an instructor is often needed, one who has "done" it or at least "seen it done".

Do you ask "why", "how" and "What for"?
Do you allow others to ask you "why", "how" and "What for"?
Do you encourage or kill the idea of "critical thinking"?