Eddie Playfair

Why knowledge vs skills is a false dichotomy

Are you academic or practical, a ‘doer’ or ‘knower’? The distinction between acquiring knowledge and developing skills is embedded in our culture, argues Eddie Playfair – but really they are types of learning that are entwined, in education as in life

Knowledge vs skills: It doesn't need to be this way

We can learn a lot from the television. Reality shows based around skills – for instance, The Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing, as well as quiz shows such as University Challenge and Mastermind – are among the most popular programmes on TV.

These shows speak to our deep interest in learning. They fall into two main camps. Bake Off, Strictly and other skills-based competitions celebrate the doing. We are shown both the process and the product of the contestants’ learning, and the purpose is clear: to make something delicious to certain specifications, or to perform something ...

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