Good Theory Versus Practice

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Kurt Lewin proposed that there is nothing as practical as a good theory.' This is a statement that helped shape the world of philosophy. This statement can be taken as an axiom on which the theory of social science is based. In this case, the statement only attempts to summarize the complex relationship between theory and practice ("Infed.org | Kurt Lewin: groups, experiential learning, and action research," 2016). One can use theory to depict practicality of matter or a subject. Notably, to establish this relationship, the terms practical and theory would rather be defined as practicality lies in the evidenced perspective of a given notion, which means that being practical implies how useful and efficient a given notion, theme, or axiom is. Theory, on the other hand, involves a realm of coming up concepts which help one understand how a given entity or how something functions (Clark, 2010). In other words, a theory tries to make sense of how something establishes its function and can be related to being practical by taking practicality as a way of establishing the truthfulness of the stipulated theory. Lewin in this made the statement under the notion that development of sound theory and practice happens through similar processes, and it is thus only logical to assert their relation.

According to the relationship between theory and practice Lewins statement is just too hyperbolical since it does not consider the complex connection between theory and practice. For instance, it is possible to know the theory behind a certain concept and it is a completely different thing to apply the known theory in practical situations (Radin, 2010). To give an analogy, one can be aware of all the rules involved in playing chess (theory) and yet not know how to play it skillfully (practical). Also, a person may know all the theories on how to play a certain musical instrument, say guitar, yet he or she cannot play the guitar in the real sense. Further, in social life, a person may have all the tips on how to make new friends (theory) yet in an actual sense he or she struggles or is unable to make friends (practical), at least not as easily as it all looks from theory. Lastly, in the business word, a person may have all the know-how of how to venture into a new market or how to start a business but in a real sense fail tragically in even establishing a venture in the initial market.

To stress this view better, in our education system, there are engineering courses offered in either technical or non-technical universities or colleges. Technical meaning there is a lot of practical sessions involved and non-technical meaning there are very few practical sessions (more theory) involved may be due to the scarcity of resources. It follows that those who study in technical universities have a better exposure of the equipment applied in their sectors as compared to those in the non-technical institutions. Consequently, in the employment market, the technical read students will make better employees in the real market than the non-technical enrolled students. In other words, the statement made by Lewin does not hold to be a real viewing from the perspective that having the theory to doing something is not sufficient as yet to doing that thing (Radin, 2010). A whole realm of the right skill set and tactics and exercise are necessary to apply the theory in an actual situation.

To show that Lewins statement is not true, let us consider the two communication theories: the agenda-setting theory and the diffusion theory. The diffusion theory entails the processes through which concepts are upheld or abhorred whereas agenda-setting theory entails the process through which a piece of information shapes the thinking of the recipients. For a case study, consider the media. In this case, the media may develop on a set or list of issues which affect the general public thus developing an agenda. Further, the media delivers the issues to the public or the ultimate target audience which in turn stirs up a set of reactions. The media therefore sets an agenda of which it delivers to the ultimate target audience. Now, if the audience dances to the tune of the agenda, they respond according to the medias goal. Otherwise, they revolt against the media having interpreted the medias agenda as inappropriate or as not right. This theory is accompanied by considerable limitations since the news keeps changing now and then, and so does the agenda; and the reception of the major agenda can be highly misinterpreted as it highly depends on other social, political, and personal views of the receiving audience. In other words, the theory establishes that a specific way of thinking will be drawn up through agenda-setting, but the truth is that the final goal achieved by the agenda is dependent on many variables and audience preferences as pointed out above.

The diffusion theory, on the other hand, establishes that each and every individual has a given way through which he or she perceives given information (theory) and the way he or she implements the action required by the theory. In this case, the theory acknowledges the human beings are habitual creatures who tend to conform to what suits them in their day to day life in consideration of the theories they get exposed to or the information they acquire. The theory takes into consideration the importance of the channel of communication, the time parameter associated with impacting a specific action through a communicated piece of information, and the most appropriate and operative interpersonal mode of communication for inducing a specific action to the target audience. For instance, concepts passed through the word of mouth are very crucial. Therefore, for the media, information should be conveyed such that the target audience gets to talk a lot about it for instance through social media. In this case, the ultimate action intended through the information has high chances of being attained. In this case, the media should initially create awareness of its concepts and arouse the interest of the target audience. Ultimately, it should track the impact of their concept through feedback and by sampling some of the audiences reactions. Finally, it should ensure that the audience does adapt to the intended course of action.

A hypothetical situation can be that of two candidates vying for the presidency in a given institution. One of the contenders only sticks his posters all over the institution and only asks for election through his campaigners. He hopes to get elected due to the fame his parent has within the institution (maybe his parent is the mayor of the town). This contender does not get out there to ask for votes. The second contender, on the other hand, uses the posters and engages his campaigners as well. In addition to this, he gives his voters and engages in fun interactive sessions with all the voters in which he shares his visions, theories and ideologies as a to be president. He creates no boundaries as such between him and his campaigners and also his voters.

Applying the two theories, the first contender is applying the agenda-setting theory and he does not take it upon himself to stress on why he should be elected. On the other hand, the second contender takes into consideration the importance of one to one communication and also sets out to truly influence and interact with the target audience. He understands one thing; winning the innovators who help him campaign and the early majority will yield the ultimate support of the majority voters and only a few wont yield to his goals.

To link it all up, the second contender is applying the diffusion theory of communication. Moreover, by the look of things, he is the prospective winner of the election. Linking the situation to the Lewins statement, the first contender has the right theory that he can be a leader since his parent is one but in the practical aspect of it, he lacks the appropriate skills to make it happen. On the other hand, the second contender has the good theory he can be a leader but does not just stop at that; he goes further to showing the right practical aspects of attaining this theories and perceptions. In a nutshell, the diffusion theory is a perfect theory that illustrates that there is a big difference between having the good theory of something and the ability to apply it practically. Therefore, bearing good theories does not necessarily mean gaining good practice.

References

Clark, I. (2010). Formative Assessment: 'There is Nothing so Practical as a Good Theory'. Australian Journal of Education, 54(3), 341-352. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/000494411005400308

Infed.org | Kurt Lewin: groups, experiential learning and action research. (2016). Infed.org. Retrieved 27 August 2016, from http://infed.org/mobi/kurt-lewin-groups-experiential-learning-and-action-research/

Radin, B. (2010). Brenda Bryant: There Is Nothing More Practical than a Good Theory. Public Administration Review, 70(2), 289-294. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6210.2010.02136.x

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