Theory and practice

Some say there is nothing as practical as a good theory and, in spite of this, from time to time you get yourself entangled in a discussion about which of them is more important than the other.  I confess that I have grown weary of it. I don’t think we should put them in terms of such binary opposition. Theory without practice is dead letter and practice without theory is just like running around like a headless chicken doing what others tell you to do, without a clue where you are going.

Good practice should be based on solid theory and solid theory should spring up from reflective practice. It is not just they should come together,  be bridged or co-exist like in a marriage. It is more than that: one cannot exist without the other.

That’s why when Tony asked us to create an image for either or both theory & practice I have chosen the ying yang. It apparently shows dichotomy because of the contrasting colours but a closer analysis will show you that the first impression is deceiving. The contrasting colours show that indeed, they are distinct but the waving line in the symbol is the graphic representation of the non-defined boundaries between them; otherwise the line would be straight. If we could make the image move, the dividing line would be waving all the time showing how the territories of both actually fluctuate. Moreover, the contrasting dots included in each field would not be static either, but grow until the whole field is taken by the opposite colour and then the whole process starts again, meaning that practice springs from theory and theory springs from practice in a perpetual cycle of giving birth to the ‘other’.

 

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