7 Ways Being Street Smart Is Different from Being Book Smart

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There are two distinctly different sides to the discussion of which kind of education is better. There are those who believe in being street smart and those that believe in being book smart.

Before we look at the ways being street smart is different (and in many ways more beneficial) than being book smart, we will look at the definition of each.

Education and learning how to live our lives in a meaningful and good way is important to most of us. Interestingly though, everyone has their own take on what kind of education is best.

Some people will swear by their local or national school system. They will talk about the benefits of higher learning at college and university. However, other people, while not being completely dismissive about formal education, will swear they have learned more out in the big bad, real-world than they ever learned from a book or a classroom.

What Is Street Smart?

Street Smart is an alternative form of ‘streetwise’. This word is succinctly defined as being the knowledge and experience required to handle dangers and potential difficulties in life in an urban setting.

What Is Book Smart?

Book smart is defined as having knowledge obtained from study and books; bookish and scholarly. This word is often used to imply someone lacks understanding of the world or common sense.

Being Street Smart Means You Have Situational Awareness

One of the major differences between the two and ultimately why street smarts are in many ways more helpful than book smarts is that being street smarts gives you situational awareness. It means that it enables you to observe and evaluate the situation or environment you are in. It also gives you a better idea of the people you are with and the possibilities around you.

Being Street Smart Means You Learn How to Trust Your Own Judgement

Most of the time, you are navigating the world and are out of a schooling or education environment. This means that you are trying to fend for yourself. If you want to survive for a decent amount of time, you need to learn how to judge situations and people.

Being Street Smart Puts You at the Centre of the Knowledge

Another huge distinction between book smarts and street smarts is who is in the middle of the knowledge. It is great to read a book and learn about a particular subject, viewpoint or opinion. You are essentially studying what someone else has discovered.

When you are street smart though, you are at the centre of the knowledge. The knowledge you have learned is based on your OWN experience, not someone else’s.

It can be helpful to learn about dangers before you experience them because you save yourself from anguish, hurt and even injury. However, if you actually go through something and experience it and gain street smarts from it, it can often make you a stronger and better-developed person.

Being Street Smart Comes from Experience

Experience is the mother of wisdom and experience without learning is more beneficial than learning with no experience.

If you are book smart, it is all very well to say you know what it is like to work in a particular industry. You will also probably know what it is like to live in a certain part of the world.

But until you actually go out and experience either of these examples or anything in life, you can’t really say you are smart about that particular scenario or subject.

Being Street Smart Can Prepare You for Disaster

It would be foolhardy to say that being book smart isn’t a good thing. But there is a lot to say about the value of being street smart. When you are street smart, you are able to discern when a situation is going south or when a situation is fine and safe. Again, the experience word here is crucial.

Book smarts mean you are very good at knowing stuff, retaining things, remembering things. Being street smart though helps you develop tools to deal with whatever life throws at you.

It teaches you to trust your initiative and instinct and can help you prepare for disaster. Being book smart means you might realise that a disaster is about to happen. You might also understand what exactly you should do to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Whereas, street smarts gives you the tools and mental capacity to work out solutions in a more natural way when faced with disaster.

As you can see, being book smart and being street smart are two completely different sets of skills and knowledge.

However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be used in conjunction with one another. It makes sense that someone who is both book smart and street smart is better equipped for life and its many trials and achieving in life, than someone who is one or the other.


  1. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com
  2. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com
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I'm a law student who is fond of reading and writing about interesting topics on science (especially cognitive science and psychology), technology, and different extraterrestrial and paranormal stuff. I'm passionate about movies, travelling and photography.

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By | 2018-03-06T22:03:33+00:00 March 6th, 2018|Categories: Education, Food for thought, Personality|Tags: , , |0 Comments

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