The Question

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?  The knowledge we gain from our personal experiences is more valuable than the knowledge we gain from books.  Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.  Do not use memorized examples.

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The Sample Essay

              Nowadays, there are many ways for people to learn about the world.  In my opinion, the knowledge we gain from our personal experiences is more important than what we learn from printed sources.  I feel this way for two main reasons, which I will explore in the following essay.

               First of all, books are not always accurate and often contradict what we find in the real world.  This is a result of the fact that books are often written by unqualified authors, but also because even respected and trained academics have biases and personal shortcomings.  Even if a diligent professor writes a book with the best intentions and tries to avoid factual errors, his research might be faulty as a result of major shifts in world affairs.  My own experience visiting the Republic of Sokovia several years ago is a perfect example of this.  Before I took my trip, I read a great number of textbooks, articles and guide books about the region.  All of these informed me that Sokovia was a very conservative place, and suggested that the people there might be unwelcoming.  However, when I actually arrived, I encountered a very welcoming, progressive culture.  Though the books I consulted were only a few years old, they were wholly out of date and did not match my personal experience.  This example demonstrates some of the problems with depending too much on books for our knowledge.

               Secondly, the knowledge we gain from personal experiences stays with us longer than things we read.  We often put books away and forget about them after we read them.  For example, I was a university student for four years and I read hundreds of books during that time.  However, it is now a decade since my graduation and I can only remember just a few of those books.  The rest of them all blend together and the knowledge I gained at the time is lost to me now.  In contrast, I still have very vivid memories of the aforementioned trip to Europe.  What I learned there about culture, people and society is burned into my memory and I will never forget it.  This is because I had a personal connection to my trip, while I had only a temporary academic connection to my university studies.

               In conclusion, I strongly believe that knowledge gained from experiences is more important than knowledge gained from reading books.  This is because books are sometimes inaccurate, and because our personal memories stay with us longer than the facts we read about in print.



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