Lessons in life come in two forms, knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is something gained by reading, watching, or studying. It’s a passive form of learning. Wisdom on the other hand, is experience. You gain wisdom by actually living life, that is making mistakes. A student, fresh out of high school probably has a lot of knowledge, however, their wisdom, is not as great.
Now lessons, you can learn from either knowledge or wisdom. It’s better when you learn your lessons from knowledge, especially some of the not so good lessons. It is much better to learn about what happens when you cheat on tests secondhand, as opposed to first-hand. The key to life, I believe, is learning the right lessons from the right mistakes. Sometimes a person makes a mistake and they learn the wrong lesson, it may still be a good lesson, but it’s not the optimal lesson.
I am reminded of the tale of the cat who sat on a hot stove. Now the lesson the cat learned was to never sit on any stove. Which is probably a good lesson, but the real lesson is not to sit on a hot stove, sitting on a cold stove well that’s just fine.
Something more applicable might be never talk to strangers. A child who learns this may grow up to be shy and perhaps withdrawn when dealing with strangers. And for a child who learns it is good not to talk to strangers, they don’t quite have the instinct to tell a good person from a bad person. However, as adults this lesson is less applicable. We should still be careful of strangers but to not talk to them at all, I don’t believe that’s a good way to go about living. Some strangers are perfectly wonderful people, and if we don’t talk to them how will we ever find these wonderful people.
That is an example of knowledge learning, a parent tells their child something and they do it, not because the child has ever dealt with a bad stranger, but just on faith that their parent knows what they’re talking about.
An example of wisdom learning, would be if a child were in a class and they asked a question of the teacher, and a teacher reacted negatively to the child. The child may conclude through wisdom it is a bad idea to ask questions in class. That is a terrible lesson to learn. We would all say asking questions only increases your understanding, but her experience is different. That child had the misfortune of having a bad teacher.
That is the difference between knowledge learning and wisdom learning. So often wisdom learning is much harsher, though I believe that if you learn the right lessons from those experiences, your life will be better for it.