Training vs Education

Training vs Education and the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Training vs Education

The hyper-commercialized culture of today’s world has created mini-hoarders in all (or most) of us. Some 80 billion articles of clothing are produced each year, with only a small percentage of that recycled. It’s no surprise that Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” made it to the New York Times best seller list. So, someone comes along and claims to have the secret of de-stressing and de-cluttering my life? My Amazon shopping cart didn’t stand a chance.


But how might this “KonMari” method of tidying relate to education and training? It’s because the teachings of this book affect the way we think and act in our own worlds. But, unless you have a background in education or are a trainer, you might tell me that education and training are the same. In fact, you might use those words interchangeably. Perhaps at your job, you say things like “We need an educational program to teach people how to be safe at work” or “Can you train me on the psychology of adult learners?” But training and education are fundamentally different and it’s important to make that distinction. Education tells you what you should know and training teaches you how to do it.

Mari Kondo Teaches

Let me use my current quest of de-cluttering and highlight the teachings of Marie Kondo to explain. Education is a cognitive process and its goal is to convey concepts and principles to the learners. For example, Marie Kondo tells me that unnecessary “stuff” brings stress into my life. She discusses the relationship we have between our environment and our happiness and encourages me to take note of current stressors in my life. Through these ideas, she is educating me on principles and concepts.

KonMari and Laundry

In contrast, the goal of training is to learn a skill or to show a change in behavior. In this example, “KonMari” method tells me to take all my T-Shirts and throw them in a pile in my living room. Then, one by one, I pick up each shirt and say out loud “Does this spark joy?”. If the answer is yes, I keep the shirt. If no, I toss it into the pile to donate. For the shirts that I keep, she then teaches me how to fold them in a way that optimizes space in my drawer. The physicality of this process is what makes it a training experience, therefore affecting how I behave.

KonMari and Trucking

Let’s further highlight the difference between education and training with an example in the trucking industry. A new-hire for a trucking company has to be taught the company history and mission, the company’s major clients, and how much following distance to leave on the road. That’s education. Conversely, the same driver has to learn how to make a squared left turn and how to complete a pre-trip inspection. That’s training.

Clutter Leads to Clarity

So as I dump my old clothes into a bin for Good Will, I think of the education and training I received from Marie Kondo. When used for the right purpose, they both play a critical role in the acquired knowledge and learned behaviors of people. How might you make this distinction in your personal and professional life?