A road sign costs about 350 euros, in 2000, the meaning of life was auctioned for $ 3.26 on eBay and every tenth dials the number combination 1234 with four-digit PIN. This is interesting and sure to cause a few laughs at parties. But is that really knowledge that helps us in everyday life? What is knowledge actually? And how important is knowledge really for our professional success?

What do we mean by knowledge?


“For knowledge itself is power” – If we believe the British philosopher Francis Bacon, ignorance – as the opposite of knowledge – means weakness. At the same time, it creates unrealistic expectations and prevents us from going a step further in life. But, is this really the truth? Can ignorance automatically be equated with counterproductivity and disconnection from reality? Prof. Dr. Knut Schwippert has been dedicated to empirical educational research for many years. In an interview with the Hamburger Abendblatt he was asked about his definition of knowledge and then distinguished between knowledge that is queried in crossword puzzles (declarative knowledge) and knowledge that helps us in everyday life to implement certain things (procedural knowledge). That means that the people who know about everything in any situation, are not necessarily the people who get along in everyday life the best. Because knowledge itself is not enough, rather it is in everyday life to understand relationships and to translate into actions.

Knowledge is the key competence in dealing with the world. Without knowledge, no one in our society comes to the fore. ❝

— Prof. Dr. Knut Schwippert 1

How does knowledge carry us on in everyday life?


From childhood we are taught that a certain amount of basic knowledge – also defined as general education – is of enormous importance. But what knowledge is required of our society also depends on the cultural anchorage. Certain manners that we take for granted are alien to others and vice versa, Schwippert says in the interview. While in German-speaking countries medical or technical knowledge is of great importance, other cultures value knowledge about religions and traditions. In addition to the concept of knowledge as such, a functioning society also requires a certain amount of social competence. For if people in a cultural sphere can not communicate on a social level, living together is doomed to failure. Here, too, it is about correctly analyzing different behaviors and deriving a realistic expectation from them. It’s about open communication and dealing with people in their environment. Although this requires no specialized knowledge in the strict sense, but still requires an emotional intelligence.

Professional Education: Can we know too much?


To survive in everyday life, we do not have to know everything. For subject-specific topics, there are experts whose knowledge we can and should trust. This is different in the professional life, since a certain expertise is a basic requirement for success. So if you want to be successful on a professional level, you shouldn’t stop studying just because you graduated from school. We learn new things all our lives, so we should continuously acquire new knowledge in our job too. The good news: We live in an age that gives us the opportunity to quickly and easily gain knowledge. Today, we no longer have to go to the bookstore to access specialist literature. Whether blogs, online magazines or webinars – the Internet now offers a variety of ways and means to keep abreast of the latest industry trends and developments. We can also network and exchange with colleagues via forums or social media. This is not only good for the head, it also promotes our social skills. And, as we already know, this is not completely insignificant on the private as well as the professional level. Whether we can know too much? No. As long as we translate learned skills into actions and use them consciously, new knowledge keeps opening new doors.

So what we should end up with: Continuing education does not end with the vocational school or university degree. Learning new skills accompanies us for a lifetime. Because only those who stay up to date can meet the growing need for education and prevail against competitors in the long term.

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