Knowledge vs Understanding
Knowledge and Understanding are two different concepts between which a number of differences can be identified. First let us try to comprehend what each term denotes. Knowledge refers to information or awareness gained through experience or education. On the other hand, understanding refers to knowing or realizing the intended meaning or cause of something. This can also be defined as interpretation or view of a particular thing. This highlights that knowledge and understanding are two different concepts. Let us comprehend this through an example. The first thing that a teacher wants to know after she has finished explaining a concept is whether her students have understood the concept or not. This clearly illustrates the importance of understanding. If you understand what I am writing in this article, it will automatically lead to an addition to your existing knowledge base. So, understanding and knowledge are closely related concepts. However, there are differences that will be clear after reading this article.
What is Knowledge?
First let us pay attention to the concept of Knowledge. This can be defined as the information or awareness gained through experience or education. It goes beyond the depths of understanding allowing a person to develop his faculties. Hence, one can state that Knowledge is greater than understanding. We make casual use of the word knowledge in daily conversation.
For an example when we say ‘This is correct to the best of my knowledge,’ this means that as far as the individual is aware, the particular information is accurate. The facts such as timing of your favorite TV show, the names of 20th century US Presidents, top ten songs of the week, the number of the bus you catch daily to reach office, your height, and weight, and the opening and closing of Dow Jones today, can be easily categorized as your knowledge but they are different from understanding as they are not open to arguments.
They are facts that cannot be argued and form a knowledge base that helps you in your life. This highlights the nature of knowledge.
What is Understanding?
Now let us move on to the term Understanding. This can be defined as knowing or realizing the intended meaning or cause of something. This can also be referred to as the interpretation or view of a particular thing. For an example, we read a poem and attempt to understand what the poet is trying to say. We unravel the hidden meanings through a deep understanding. This highlights that understanding something refers to an interpretation.
Let us gain a better comprehension of this word through another example. Why was Pluto stripped of its status as a planet of our solar system, how does an AC work, or the principle of flow of electrons in a conductor can be categorized as your understanding that is open for arguments and also for probe or testing.
This emphasizes that unlike knowledge that is fact based and can be presented as statements that are not open to further questioning, understanding requires longer statements, their explanation, and probably corrections when someone points out any in-congruence. We check understanding of a person when we conduct a test and not his knowledge. Now let us summarize the difference in the following manner.
What’s the Difference Between Knowledge and Understanding?
- Knowledge refers to information or awareness gained through experience or education whereas understanding refers to knowing or realizing the intended meaning or cause of something.
- Knowledge is greater than understanding.
- Knowledge and understanding are closely interrelated. You can count the names of the Presidents of US, but it is based upon your understanding that US is a country that elects its Presidents every four years and that some Presidents have served two consecutive terms.
- Both understanding and knowledge are essential, and one is incomplete without the other. If you as a student understand the concept explained by your teacher but have gained no knowledge, you get nowhere. Similarly, knowledge (facts) without understanding are merely examples of your good memory.
1.”San Diego City College Learning Resource – bookshelf” by Joe Crawford from Moorpark, California, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
2. “US Navy 061026-N-5271J-014 Jennifer Tonder (right), a teacher’s aide for a 3rd-4th grade multi-age class, discusses the various books available from the Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) grant given to Sasebo Elementary School with” by U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Johnstone [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons