School of Hard Knocks


What does School of Hard Knocks mean?

School of hard knocks is a popular expression, synonymous to “school of life” or “university of life” used to signify the importance of lessons one gets from the negative events in life, over a formal education.

Online, such an expression is often considered clichéd, as many people claim to have studied at the “school of hard knocks” without having truly lived through actual adversities.


What's the origin of School of Hard Knocks?

While it is unclear, who coined the term, the “school of hard knocks” appears in several sources as far back as the 1800’s.

One prominent example of the phrase appearing comes from the 1870 book “The Men Who Advertise”.

The phrase would appear in several newspaper articles over throughout the years, advocating for the importance of empirical knowledge over theoretical education.

Spread & Usage

How did School of Hard Knocks spread?

During the 20th century, the expression would travel worldwide, with the “school of hard knocks” and the “university of life” appearing in Australia, New Zealand as well as the United Kingdom.

In 1947, James Franklin Comstock founded the “University of Hard Knocks” meant to give recognition to successful people who didn’t possess any higher education degrees.

The organization was dissolved in 2014.

External resources

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