Give a man a fish…

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll overfish for profit and diminish supply at an alarming rate, teach a man to learn and to critically access a network of all human knowledge and he just might contribute to a solution to over-fishing or to feeding the 7 billion people on this planet.

I came up with this fun little adaptation of an old metaphor in a comment on Will Richardson’s blog post: ‘A new culture of learning‘… thought I’d share it here too:-)

4 thoughts on “Give a man a fish…

  1. francesbell

    I know it’s just a bit of fun but I do disagree with “teach a man to fish and he’ll overfish for profit and diminish supply at an alarming rate”. Maybe it’s more liketeach a man to fish for local needs he’ll feed himself and his family for a lifetime, introduce a value chain with profits elsewhere and he’ll overfish for profit and diminish supply at an alarming rate

  2. David Truss

    Excellent point Francis!The post I linked to above included this quote by John Seely Brown:”Many educators, for example, consider the principle underlying the adage, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime,” to represent the height of educational practice today. Yet it is hardly cutting edge. It assumes that there will always be an endless supply of fish to catch and that the techniques for catching them will last a lifetime. And therein lies the major pitfall of the twenty-first century’s teaching model—namely, the belief that most of what we know will remain relatively unchanged for a long enough period of time to be worth the effort of transferring it. Certainly there are some ideas, facts, and concepts for which this holds true. But our contention is that the pool of unchanging resources is shrinking, and that the pond is providing us with fewer and fewer things that we can even identify as fish anymore.”I like your added component but I guess I’m a little more jaded than you. I’m currently living in a country with a billion people and what I see is that the mass majority of them want to live the ‘American Dream’ and that is really, really scary. It also seem to me that the value chain hits 99.9% of our world’s population to some extent and a better life means more than just ‘feeding the family’… and in many areas where that may be true, resources are in short supply or dangerously polluted or violence prevents ‘fishing to feed the family’ as a possibility. Furthermore, it’s almost like consumerism is the new democracy, representing freedom and opportunity for success and happiness. Twenty years ago as a student in an “International Development” BA program, I would have agreed with you fully… now, I’m not so sure?

  3. francesbell

    I don’t think that we are in disagreement David – I am just a little obtuse sometimes 😉 I was not advocating that we just introduce the value chain but rather look at what we can learn from where that has happened. From the point of view of education and learning, I think that educators should be encouraging learners to question everything from global capitalism to great thinkers like Seely Brown, and acknowledging the need for change in education. It’s the nature of that change that concerns me – prey as it is to the twin horrors of dystopian (we can’t afford to invest in human mediation of learning – automate! automate! sell content! sell content!) and utopian (OER can solve all these problems with the addition of volunteer labour) approaches to change. OK I exaggerate! but I think we need critical thinking by teachers and learners, asking questions of the powerful agents of change, and informed incremental change as well as a bit of radical change.What I think Seely Brown is suggesting is a shift from product to process where the learning is about how to rather than what – that has always been my personal philosophy of education and learning.

  4. David Truss

    You are right @francesbell – we are not in disagreement, and I really like your thought process! I recently wrote a post, Question Everything! which goes well with what you said… and with respect to ‘a shift from product to process where the learning is about how to rather than what’… that’s exactly the point I was attempting to make with “teach a man to learn and to critically access a network of all human knowledge”.Thanks for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comments!~Dave.

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