Give a man a fish

… and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for life.

I love that proverb.  In fact, I live by it.  Although I didn’t really know it at the time I was living that proverb at school and university.  I was trying to understand the things behind the facts, how we got to them, what they meant, why they were relevant, rather than memorising them.  You can expand on understanding into other areas, but basic facts are essentially dead and lifeless.

So anyway, I love the phrase, the idea behind it and I try and keep it in mind if I need to help teach things to people.  It often leads me to answering questions with questions.  I can tell you one thing for certain, if you believe teaching people to fish is better than giving them smoked kippers you will annoy people who are asking you for kippers.   Sometimes people just want a kipper, sometimes they just need a kipper and spotting that moment isn’t always easy, especially when you’re knee-deep in explaining how to fish.

My favourite version of the proverb is from a computer game (Baldur’s Gate, not sure if it’s 1 or 2),

Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day.  Give him a sword and he can chow down on the marrow of evil.

More colourful but essentially the same message 😉

2 thoughts on “Give a man a fish”

  1. So YARPP related this to your post on “Fringe” and “Burn Notice”, and I was wondering how “Fringe” stood the test of time…

    1. We’re something like 19 episodes in, and it’s not too frustrating 😉 They managed to finally break away a little bit from ‘weird thing happens, Walter remembers being involved in the 70’s, solves case’ and while I know that JJ won’t reveal anything major we have had some minor revelations in recent episodes which make you feel like they’re leading up to something big for the end of the 1st season. I hear it got approval for a 2nd season as well – really not liking how that works for American networks, but there you go. Generally I think the 1st season is worth it so far, and the characters and acting make up for any plot issues I have. I’ll post something more substantial now you’ve reminded me of my Fringe post.

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