Is it possible to learn something just by theory without practice?

Hello everyone!

As I said in the title, is it possible for example for mathematics or other field where we are supposed to practice to understand?

and if at some point I need to practice I can do it very easily

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No , the feilds that need practise are built with repetition . For ex u can learn about memory technique but if u dont apply it (practise it) than it is of no use .
But their is a way to increase the quality of time practised

Visit this site and read about deep practise but u have to practise this also nothing would happen without practising.


Yes and know. If you want to learn the law, you need only memorize and understand these concepts. But if youre aiming to become a great attorney or detective, its impossible to achieve it without years of practice. It’s the same story with programming. You can learn the syntax of any programming language, but to write real programmes you should be fascinated with coding.


In my experience, yes but the problem is that the chance of finding all the right theory + the steps on how to use them is incredibly low.

I have passed many exams and tests by just reading the books, even for math tests in the past. I literally passed my entrance exam to get into lawschool by only reading a book.

But the problem is this:

The chance of you finding a mathbook that explains everything into the details like when to use certain formulas and also has the right explanation that you can understand is so incredibly low that you might as well just practise.

That’s why it’s often better to have multiple books about a subject, to increase your chances of understanding it better.

But yes, it is possible to learn something only from theory but it is incredibly impractical. You also need to be pretty good with memory techniques or have an excellent memory like I have. Speed is important too when learning things.


What are your methods for learning quickly?
And how do you manage to have a good memory?

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I think it depends somewhat on the ‘something’.

Probably, one can become proficient to some degree for areas that are perhaps mostly information based (maybe library science, or pharmacy for example). This presupposes that one has sufficient mental aptitude to start with, but if one does, then I think some degree of proficiency can be attained.

However, the distinction between theory and practice becomes more clear, when one talks about physical skills. I wouldn’t want to go mountain climbing or flying with someone who knows ‘all the theory’, but has never climbed (or even tied a knot before) or flewn before. Same goes for surgeons.

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Yeah, you should probably rephrase that unless you want to have a philosophical discussion about the topic. In the end, it’s a matter of transferable skills…

Let’s say you just learned how to add fractions. What did you practice for that? Adding? No, you learned that years ago… so probably the part where you get the denominator to be the same. Great, you just learned something new.

Now let’s say you want to learn how to subtract fractions. You already know how to subtract, just like you knew how to add. Also, you already practiced how to make the denominator the same. Great, so you don’t need to practice to learn this “new” skill… or did you in fact practice all along?

Read an article somewhere about how to juggle… you think you’ll learn how to juggle by just reading about it?

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If you want the knowledge to become automatic, the way you know how to speak English (or your native tongue) without thinking about the rules of grammar, you will have to practice. If you do not lay down such cognitive habits the best you can hope to do is painfully figure your way through the problem - like trying to speak by using a dictionary and a grammar book. This, for example, is why we memorize the multiplication table rather than recreating the results from first principles every time we do a calculation.


I can resonate with this quote.

So I’m interpreting this question as “could I just use imagination and visualize and imaginatively practice doing something without doing it in reality, and do well once it comes time to do it in reality?”

Well, I do practice things in imagination which is extremely enjoyable and I think makes me learn much faster. However as Johnny mentioned, if I never actually practice in real life, I won’t necessarily work out all the “unexpected nooks and crannies”. Imagination works really good as supplementary practice. It’s like a flavor enhancer, like salt, sugar, spice. I feel it multiplies the effectiveness of practice.

The reason why real hands-on practice and lots of exploration is needed is because while imagination allows us to warm up our minds and make connections between ideas, it still needs that exposure to the unexpected. Once I’m exposed to the unexpected, then I can use imagination to expect it – to rehearse, review, combine, make connections, be prepared mentally. I can practice in my mind, but practicing in real life will show me the unexpected obstacles that I can later re-practice in my mind. So there’s really got to be a balance between imaginative practice and real practice.

Put enough energy into the learning process. Get your hands dirty. There is no easy way for mathematics, physics, chemistry, …
There are easy ways for religion, philosophy, literature, psychology, … and drugs.

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If I create flash cards for example for math I can create a deck that explains how to solve equations for example without practicing right?

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@albinoblanke is a savant and savant use different parts of their brains for the same work than we do and being able to read theory and apply it without practicing it may not be possible without using different part(s) of your brain for the same work that we normally do.

And,Jhonny can you post the steps which you used to read a Maths book and then apply it without practicing,

And how you were able to do that, Maybe I will be able to create a method that allows let’s people to do that by knowing those things,

As for using different parts of a brain I think that in speed reading we use the visual part of the brain for reading mostly and so it maybe possible for an ordinary person to use the same parts of the brain that you do for applying theory at his own will just as savant use different parts of their brain for the same work that we do and speed readers use the visual part of their brain for reading which they can stop using and return to normal reading when they want when they are reading and use the auditory part of their brain and since some people are acquired savants which makes me think that they were able to use different parts of their brain than the average person for some work which made them savants and so I think that being able to use different parts of the brain for reading, memorizing and applying theory than the average person is possible which I believe can make a person a savant and so can you post the above things which I have asked you to do so that I may be able to create a technique that allows a person to learn a practical subject with no practice which is something that I also want since that can help me in my studies and can eliminate the time which I spend practicing,


Have a Great Day.

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I was going to write several extremely long messages detailing this, but they turned out far too long over 10k words. To keep it short.

Functionally, if you can handle detail accurately it is possible to learn theory and apply it without practicing. I did this at university as an experiment, in some math and non-math modules.

Most people handle detail through means of problems, learning to pay attention to particular keywords, learning the meaning of vague theory through trial and error solutions. If you learn from examples in textbooks, that is somewhat like learning from a problem anyways.

I spent a long time going through this possibility and ultimately decided not for it, only because in cases like programming or mathematics, you will be slower even if you subconsciously know the information than you would be if you were a you that had done similar with problems, for such problems.

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In this video at 28:51 he knows a method to understand mathematics Mattias Ribbing on mnemonics, memory palace and new ways to learn languages and maths - YouTube

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