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What’s the difference between understanding and knowing?

There’s a well known model for learning created by David Kolb that goes like this:

  1. Concrete experience

  2. Observation of and reflection on that experience

  3. Formation of abstract concepts based upon the reflection

  4. Testing the new concepts

What’s missing?

Lecturing, being on the receiving end on a presentation, or memorizing texts.


Because they don’t lead to true knowledge. We can understand the text we read or understand the lecture we are attending, but without an experiential foundation, it will remain meaningless and we will see only the top of the iceberg.

If you look at a solved math problem without all the steps written out, you might think “yeah, that makes sense”, but without going through the process of solving it, you probably can’t solve the next one that comes along. The experience is missing from the equation.

So whatever material you use to learn, whatever information you consume, how can you experience it?