The science of pracademia
pracademic (noun): a mix of practical and academic study or activity.
The term pracademic is not particularly well known, but it is becoming used more commonly. So what does it mean?
According to Wikipedia, a pracademic is "someone who is both an academic and an active practitioner in their subject area."
Simply put, pracademia or pracademics combine a mix of practical and academic study. Think lecture theatres and professors, combined with hands-on workshops, real-world activities, and even placements or internships. It's about combining the thinking with the doing.
The importance of pracademia
In many industries, there is a growing gap between the thinkers and the doers. There just aren't enough pracademics.
For example, the sports science and fitness industry in Australia is booming. Job openings for sport and fitness coaches over the next five years are predicted to reach between 25,000 and 50,000. Meanwhile, there is a predicted demand for between 10,000 and 25,000 more fitness instructors and personal trainers (PTs) in the same time period. An athlete or client is not likely to ask technical questions about specific syndromes or muscle groups. They're more likely to ask how to improve or get better at an activity. The coach or PT needs to have the theoretical knowledge, but also the practical experience to be able to translate their knowledge and help their client.
Ask any student how they study for an exam and chances are it will involve some serious late-night cramming trying to memorise a bunch of technical stuff. Sure they might ace the exam, but in a couple of months time they've probably forgotten it. Why? Because they didn't apply it. The practical application of knowledge and theory is what really makes it stick.
How to become a pracademic
Lara Noble, a masters graduate in architecture, decided she needed to get more hands-on, practical skills. Jumping into a carpentry apprenticeship gave her the skills and confidence to start her own business. Fast forward and she's now the co-founder of The Tiny House Company.
We study the theory so we can understand the technical stuff. But in order to become a pracademic, rather than just an academic, we need to get out of the classroom and actually do it.