How is Experience different from Knowledge?

It is a well-known fact that patients trust an experienced doctor more than a novice one, even if the latter has earned his/her degree(s) from a top-notch medical college. Similarly, most companies give preference to experienced workers over fresh talent. What is the reason behind this attitude?

How About This?

Once a reporter insinuated that Thomas Alva Edison was a rather unsuccessful man as he had made a bulb after several failed endeavours. At this, the genius replied that he had not failed as he had found 10,000 ways that wouldn’t work. It indicates that with every attempt, or we can say, experience, our knowledge increases. Even if we don’t get to learn how to do something, we gain in-depth knowledge about how not to do it.

What Does the Dictionary Say?

The dictionary defines knowledge as ‘Facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.’ And what is experience? It is ‘The knowledge or skill acquired by a period of practical experience of something, especially that gained in a particular profession.’

Boat Without a Rudder

Experience is said to be the best teacher. An experienced person is perceived to be more knowledgeable. As a matter of fact, it is experience that complements knowledge. It would not be a fallacy to say that knowledge without experience could be like a boat without a rudder. The two are not distinct entities, but two sides of the same coin. That is the reason why the elderly are generally wiser than youngsters. In the words of Albert Einstein, ‘The only source of knowledge is experience.’

Theory and Practical                                                             

Knowledge is akin to theory and experience is the practical aspect. Both are essential for success, and this is true for just about everything in life. Games are leisure pursuits but they also require experience along with knowledge. As a simple example to show how the two are inter-dependent, let us talk about the Game of Indian Rummy. It is an easy to understand and simple to play card game. The game has only a few simple rules, but still, if one starts playing it without adequate knowledge regarding its rules and strategies, one might end up losing the game. At the same time, a person who has studied a lot about the game but has not practiced enough might meet the same fate, thanks to lack of experience. However, in both the cases, one gains experience and this experience boosts awareness or knowledge. The crux of the matter is that knowledge and experience go hand in hand.


Knowledge can be gained in a comparatively shorter span of time, but experience comes with time, exposure, and practice. Needless to say, experience bestows wisdom upon a person. Wisdom is the ability to contemplate and subsequently act using knowledge, experience and insight. As such, wisdom encapsulates both knowledge and experience within itself, emphasizing the difference between the two as also their mutual relationship.

Bookish Knowledge

Let’s visualize this. A person wants to learn cooking and reads a whole lot of recipe books and blogs. When the person actually enters the kitchen to experiment with his/her culinary knowledge, will s/he be able to cook as proficiently as somebody who has not read anything but cooks every day? The answer is most likely to be in the negative. While the former has only bookish and rudimentary knowledge, the latter has mastered the skill with regular practice.

Exceptions are Always There

At times, it happens that people who have little or no experience achieve success. It can be attributed to their knowledge, dedication and passion. In the absence of experience, the three happen to work the same wonders as does experience. However, such cases are far and few.

To Conclude

It is of paramount significance to supplement knowledge with experience for it to be actually beneficial. Don’t be attracted to bookish knowledge only. Try to augment your knowledge and hone your skills with consistent practice. That would make you seasoned. It is not without reason that we say – Practice makes a woman or man perfect.

Knowledge gained through experience is far superior and many times more useful than bookish knowledge.                                                                                                                           -Mahatma Gandhi