Information vs. Knowledge
And The Two Stages of Learning

By Michael Hebron

We could say that efficient approaches to learning and making progress have two stages.  Stage one has a
pre-stage, which will be discussed later.  During stage one, a “giver” of information is sharing basic subject
matter information with a “receiver.”  Some examples of basic information would be: the letters of the
alphabet, important dates in history, a math formula, or a general, just in the ballpark description of a motor
skill.  There are approaches to education that do not go beyond stage one, they just provide information,
and at times, this information contains details that unfortunately go beyond basic information.  These
approaches to education do not support the development of insights into the personal “know-how” of using
basic information for problem solving thinking that can transform information into knowledge. (Note:
Information and knowledge are not the same).  “Operational intelligence” was Jean Piaget term for “know
During stage two of efficient approaches to learning a “giver” of information takes on a very different role
beyond that of just providing basic information.  The “giver” becomes a “guide,” or a partner in learning.  As
a “guide” they lead a “receiver” of information in the direction of using their own self-discovery, self
assessment, and self learning skills to develop flexible knowledge and portable skills based on the basic
information they acquired during stage one.  Said another way, when self development skills are supported
during stage two, (a stage of learning that can last a lifetime) “receivers” of information grow the kind of skills
that can transfer basic information into the kind of insights and knowledge that are needed beyond
classrooms, business seminars, and sports practice fields for real world problem solving in ever-changing
environments.  That aim of stage two is to foster the creative ability to take one insight or one piece of
information and transform it into knowledge (or know how) for problem solving in a variety of novel
conditions.  (Stage one and two are void of any “how to” directions from givers of basic information.)
Prior to stage one, there is a pre-stage one, which is based on all of our past experiences.  When new
information is being experienced and taken in during stage one, simultaneously the new information “flows” in
the direction of where all past information and experiences have been stored in our brain, becoming a mix of
past and present information.  This mix of past and present information that has “flowed” together is at the
core of flexible knowledge and portable skills, (which are at the heart of long-term learning).  Current studies
and respected research from cognitive science now show that mankind does not learn directly from his
experiences in the now.  Useful learning experiences, ones that are meaningful for future use are based on
what I called “Flow-Through Learning.” ©This term makes reference to how present and past experiences
flow together during acts of efficient learning, creating flexible knowledge and portable skills.  Note: All past
information and experiences, both ones related and unrelated to any new interactions with the environment
influence acts of learning and teaching the now.