Monday, December 11, 2006

Fishing and homeschooling

There is an old saying:

“If you feed a man a fish, you feed him for a day.
If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life...”

There is wise counsel in these two lines. To really help someone it is better to teach them how to take care of themselves. When they are starving you give them a fish. Once the hunger has been satisfied, it is a great kindness to teach them how to provide for themselves. They more they learn to do for themselves the less they will be at the mercy of others.

But the setting for the above saying implies a passive situation in which the hungry man is waiting for, or even needs, someone else to provide for him and teach him.

As parents I think we need to expand this thought in two ways:

1) Children should learn to take initiative. I don’t want my children to sit passively around waiting to be taught. Children will be happier, more successful, and more productive if they learn to be proactive. We try to teach our children to see a problem and then take steps to solve it. When they ask us for help we’ll often respond back with “How could you solve it?” We could give them a fish and they would be happy for the day. But if they can learn the attitude and mind set of taking initiative they will be much happier for the rest of their lives.

2) Children should learn how to learn on their own. In some ways this is an extension of being proactive, but it is focused. Far too many students graduate from high school and college with the mind set that you can only learn from experts. In the saying above there implied expectation that some expert will have to teach the man how to fish. If children see a skill or some knowledge they want to master, most of the time they can learn it on their own.

Can anyone suggest a clever way of capturing the higher proactive approach? I'm thinking of something like:

“If you feed a man a fish, you feed him for a day.
If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life.
And if you teach a man to be proactive and learn how to learn you have taught him how to be happy for the rest of his life."

Someone once said: “Invent a witty saying, and your name will live forever.” I think his name was Anonymous.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education


blue thistle books said...

Oh how true! Teaching my children to self learn and teaching them to take initiative is a top priority in our home. Oh and, well spoken! Love the revision!

christinemm said...

RE: your comment "...learn from the experts" as adults. The problem here is that still not all adults LEARN from the experts. I think that would be fine to LEARN from the experts. (I do this even when I read a parenting books or a book about a medical condition.) I think the problem lies when they don't think for THEMSELF or teach THEMSELVES and instead always seek to PAY an expert for help. Then they want to be TOLD what to do. They don't necessarily even want to LEARN about it, they just want to be DIRECTED, then they want a perfect outcome.

Here is an example I have seen play out over and over. A woman wants to have a baby, she intentionally gets pregnant. She says she wants to breastfeed. Yet she does not teach herself anything about how to feed the baby at the breast ahead of time. So many educated women give birth yet have no clue how to feed the baby. They look to the medical professionals at the hospital to do everything to TELL them what to do. Even some mothers own a book on breastfeeding or are given a free pamphlet but they don't actually READ IT to TEACH themselves.

Other mothers go home from the hospital with the new baby and still don't know how to tell if a baby is hungry, how long to nurse the baby, how to latch the baby on.

They then seek to PAY an expert to tell them what to do (usually the Pediatrician's office). However most Pediatrician's offices don't employ a Lactation COnsultant so what is relayed to the mother can be iffy.

All the info about breastfeeding is out there for free or nearly free if a woman will teach herself the information.

Then there are the free services of La Leche League. Other experienced mothers who breastfed their babies are there to help on a grassroots level but in so many cases the people are actually wary of the FREE help and they'd prefer to PAY an "expert" which they define not as a person who went through training and also actually breastfed a baby or babies but they want to PAY someone who can TELL them what to do even sometimes when that person is not female or may have never breastfed their own baby (or they may be childless).

The scary thing to me, in general, is that as adults so many just want to be TOLD what to do and are willing to pay for that (even high prices) rather than teach themselves.

Another example could be that a lot can be learned from reading a book on effective communication skills between people such as between a wife and a husband but some would rather invest large amounts of time and money on marriage counseling to MAYBE be actually taught how to talk to each other with respect and how to discuss issues. Much cheaper information and advice is within the pages of so many books.

A question is why are so many adults turned off to reading and also to self-education?

My answer is that many, due to schooling, either hate reading or don't know the world of knowledge that is out there, or are so turned off to learning that they don't want to teach themselves anything.

Instead they wait until there is a crisis (i.e. medical emergency, sickness, marriage in tatters) before they seek the services of experts.

USpace said...

Good one, it's in, thanks!

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
don't teach man to fish

just give him a fish per day
keep him putting his hand out

Adam Kayce, Monk at Work said...

How about this:

“If you feed a man a fish, you feed him for a day.
If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life.
And by helping him see how to feed himself, you set him free."

Janine Cate said...

I've never heard that version before. Thanks for sharing.

WeR1Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WeR1Family said...

Great posting! Thanks for sharing!
As appreciation, I backlink your post at one of my posting that is related in this way. .Do take a look too ok? ^_^

Robin's Reports said...

Hi. I found you through google. We too homeschool and we are a fishing family (recreational). It was nice to ready your blog on the topic. I agree. Feel free to browse my blog and how we tie in hs'ing, Christianity and fishing together.