Is education better after some experience?

Classic questions:

  • Is it better to jump into college straight out of high school or take a gap year first?
  • Is it better to go for the MBA right after finishing your undergraduate degree or get some job experience first?
  • Is it better to read the instruction manual right out of the box or try it on your own first?

What do you think?

The school here in Korea hired me to teach but didn’t teach me how, until almost three weeks into it. Until then, I fumbled around with the system they’d been using, made up my own activities, and – from what I could tell – survived pretty well.

Still, the training they finally gave me made a big difference. I tuned out a lot of what was taught since I already knew some of it but still learned more than I think I would have if I didn’t already have the experience.

I learned more because I was able to pay attention to what was important. I was able to pick out and remember the things I knew I needed, the subtle tips that were relevant to me but that I probably would have missed if I hadn’t experienced the difficulty of not knowing them.

I don’t think experience is the best teacher, but I definitely get why it’s often better to go that route first.

But what do you think? Is education better after you have some of your own experience to draw from? How do you know when it’s better this way versus the other?