What is it to be ‘Book smart’?

Book smart, by reading the name itself, you will be able to acquire a clear understanding about its meaning. Book smarts are defined as knowledge gained through articles, books and textbooks. The knowledge gained by a person during their thirteen years of primary school and high school (compulsory education), and also the knowledge acquired by attending colleges and universities are included in the term book smart.

Their knowledge description is logical and constitutional. Their creativity can be described as inventive. They use this trait mainly for modernization. Book smart individuals do not usually possess attributes that are unfavorable, but the one common unfavorable trait that can be seen is postponed decision making. This mainly happens since they tend to make decisions based on strategies, which involves careful thinking and planning.


Where do ‘book smarts’ stand in terms of social interaction?

Book smart individuals generally possess a solitary personality. They do not possess very good social skills and are sometimes not very good at understanding people. They are unlikely to change their plans unless it is a critical situation, and during crisis management they always use substitute strategies and back up plans. Another trait that is common to all book smart individuals, is that they work with great expectations for the future.


What are ‘Street smarts’?

In contrast, the simplest explanation that defines street smarts is enlightenment gained by undergoing various life experiences. Street smarts are also a result of learning through observing, experimenting and situational or behavioral analysis. Street smart individuals have a knowledge description that is both experimental and realistic. They tend to be very visionary. This characteristic is used for finding other ways of doing things rather than using formulas and specific procedures that may already exist. An admirable quality of street-smart individuals is their ability to make immediate decisions. However, such decisions are usually made based on their sentiments.


Social Approach of a ‘Street-smart’ individual

Street smart individuals do very well socially. They find it very easy to make friends and usually understand people well. They also acquire favorable life skills that help in solving problems faced during their day-to-day activities. Street smart individuals do not usually have back up plans as they possess the ability to solve problems on the spot. They are also very flexible and adapt to any kind of environment easily. A common feature seen in all street smart individuals is that they live in the moment and display situational consciousness.


Are you better off being ‘Book smart’ or ‘Street smart’ or both? 

Conversing about the differences between book smarts and street smarts there is more than you could ever dream about. They completely contrast each other in almost every aspect. The real question arises at what sort of connection might exist between book smarts and streets smarts, and the answer may lie in the single word “success”.

The opinions on success vary, but it is majorly believed that true success requires knowledge gained from books along with the experiences gained from the environment. The fact is that although people believe that book smarts and street smarts are the total opposite to each other—an opinion that I fully agree with—in order to be truly successful, knowledge acquired by street smarts and book smarts should both be combined.

The key to truly be successful is to use mindfulness and emotional intelligence to pull these two opposites together. In order to be a fully rounded and capable individual, one must learn to be well versed in both forms of knowledge.

The expectation of success expansion is built up as both forms of knowledge are combined, as it helps you to think more logically, creatively and experimentally. In such situations, it is your knowledge based on self and situational awareness, experiences, social skills along with the knowledge gained by reading, that all come into play. Consequently, it means that knowledge gained by being book smart and street smart is obligatory in living a successful life in today’s modern world with all its crests and dips.


Shanaya Amaratunge

7B – National curriculum

Royal Institute – Maharagama Branch