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  • Writer's pictureIan Gibbs

An Alternative To Knowledge vs Skills?

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

What do you see in the photo?

• A standard LEGO brick?

• 2.5 grams of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene?

• A painful experience for bare feet?

• A visual representation of 2x4?

• A powerful learning tool?

In education, a recurring point of discussion is knowledge-based learning vs skills-based learning, or put in a different way, learning new information vs learning new ways of doing things.

Learning new vocabulary is essentially knowledge based whereas learning how to negotiate is more skills based.

But the problem with focussing on these two realms of learning is we overlook the third realm: reframing.

As you probably already know, reframing is where we take our current knowledge and reorganise it in our head so we can use it in a different way.

No new information is acquired.

No new skill is acquired.

The new bit is how we think to achieve a new outcome.

Reframing is a powerful kind of learning. Ask any psychologist, therapist or coach. It can change the way we perceive our world and what we can do about it.

For example, it happens when we finally realise we are our own worst enemy, or that our mother was right all along.

Reframing is like one of those clever pictures where there’s a horse and then suddenly your mind flips, the horse has vanished and now you’re looking at a frog, except it’s exactly the same picture as before.

Now, I’m not going to open the Pandora’s Parcel about how to learn to reframe. Life is short and it’s getting late.

The point of this blog is to put reframing on your radar so it sits shoulder to shoulder with knowledge and skills as an equal.

Voluntarily reframing is not easy. The number of people who want to have their world-view reframed are few and far between. Most of us think we’ve got a grip on reality already.

Nevertheless, it does happen and reframing moments can hit us at any moment.

Sometimes they’re provoked by a near-death experience, a coaching session or sometimes by simply having a bath.

When I did my LEGO Serious Play training, I learnt both new knowledge and new skills. But I also had a reframing moment of my own when I realised the potential of these simple pieces of coloured plastic as learning tools.


So the next time you get drawn into a discussion on knowledge vs skills, why not add fuel to the fire by asking what happens when someone reframes their existing knowledge and then sit back and enjoy the ride.

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