21 Oct 2012

TOEFL Essay 1: Topic 4: Experience is the best teacher with audio

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It has been said, "Not everything that is learned is contained in books." Compare and contrast knowledge gained from experience with knowledge gained from books. In your opinion, which source is more important? Why?

Books are considered to be the source of all knowledge, but all that one learns through a book is only of theoretical nature in the form of ideas and concepts. It is essential to utilize them in a real environment and experience the knowledge that is learned from books.

Learning is nothing but understanding the world around us. Books, no doubt are a great source of knowledge as it gives us an idea about a particular subject in detail. But all that one could learn from it is limited to the level of knowing how a certain phenomenon occurs, or how a certain concept works. The knowledge gained through books alone cannot help anyone, because what one learns through the books should be put in to use to harvest the benefits. For instance, a person who wants to learn driving can go through various manuals and guides that teach people how to drive, but all this knowledge is useful only when you are actually driving the car on the roads. It would be an utter waste of time if one just reads the books and does not use them for practical purpose.

Learning through experience is always a lot different from learning through books. Let us consider the same example of a person wanting to learn to drive: even if he goes through every book that is available on driving, still it cannot qualify him as an expert driver. This is because of the fact that books about driving can only teach people traffic rules and provide solutions on how to handle certain situations. The situations faced by a driver could be totally different from what he had learnt from a book. Sometimes we find that the real environment is quite different from the one perceived by us through reading books. This is the very reason why, even in educational institutions, all theoretical classes are followed by practical sessions.

Learning through experience can also be more effective than learning through books because one does not envision everything on his own, but is given a chance to experience the reality. The art of driving can be enjoyed only when we are behind the wheels and not when reading it in books. Moreover, any book is actually an account of past experiences, i.e. it is based on the experiences of people who tried to develop a new idea. The books are their experiences, telling us what they already have tried. Thus from their experiences we can correct ourselves and thus save valuable time and resources. It helps us to concentrate on their failures and to correct them, but they alone cannot teach us everything we need to know. The knowledge learned through books alone cannot help us to face all the exigencies that we would face in real life situations; we have to practice on our own.

Books are like a guiding light in one's pursuit for knowledge. But it is left to everyone of us to experience it first hand and learn new things for the betterment of their lives. So the notion "experience is the best teacher" is perfectly true.

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