When I started writing the articles on the Traits system in the Lord of the Rings online (part 1, part 2, part 3 so far), I thought I knew how they worked. In particular I was pretty sure I knew how the Virtue window worked, what the icons meant and how to understand them.
After writing the relevant section in part 3 I realised I didn’t really understand how they worked, so I quickly re-hashed it after looking at the dialog again so that I could publish it with a ‘good enough’ section. Now though, after going back and looking again in more detail I realise I’m still wrong. It’s only when you try and explain stuff to other people that you really begin to find out if you understand it yourself.
Which is something I always sort of knew but has been refreshed, and it’s equally valid in terms of understanding your own belief system. If you don’t take time to explain it to other people, you may find that you don’t really understand it yourself. Anyway, I’m going to go and re-write part 3 so that it’s correct (or more understandable at least).
… 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 😉