“People love to say, ‘Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.’ What they don’t say is, ‘And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.’ That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.”
― Trevor Noah
In our informal #MSUHubBookClub, we read Trevor Noah’s critically acclaimed autobiography, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood and I was immediately struck by the above quote and the correlations to the work we do. Every day, our work is multifaceted and sometimes there’s less oversight or emphasis on the resources folks actually need. Our book club readings have helped me think differently about the ways we can spin our wheels on the little things or big things and lose sight of the critical elements along the way. More and more, I’m reminded of that human centered approach and how it remains at the core of what we do and how our student voices are the driving force.
Both in project work and content consumption, I’ve found that the most influential teaching and learning experiences are those journeys that start with validating the understandings of others. In Noah’s book, we grasp that it’s only when we understand and empathize with our users can we ensure that adequate resources are in place. At times and outside of academia you might hear people talk about higher education and the student experience in that “you just have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps” or “you just need to ask for help.” To that, I answer: “but how?” Folks aren’t always aware of the questions they should be asking and once they do figure it out, it might be too late. In institutions of higher education we need more inclusive processes, safety nets, and caring voices if and when those resources fall through or just aren’t enough. Our outputs are important but the necessary resources and required skills are far more important, as our outputs would be meaningless without the required resources. Again, what good is teaching a man to fish if he doesn’t have the means or knowhow to obtain a rod. Thus, the value in teaching a man to fish therein lies in the support, resources, and tangible efforts it takes to teach a man to fish.
The #MSUHubBookClub (thanks for organizing @SarahGretter) raises myriad provocative insights and our diverse backgrounds lend to these rich conversations. Through these informal yet stimulating discussions we grow to learn, understand, and function to create agency and fulfill our mission. Whether it’s our group lunches (thanks for organizing @BeckyMatz1) or grabbing coffee, these opportunities set the foundation for the constant learning that’s taking place. Whether it’s the tangible work we do or the other things we do while at work, it’s all in the connections we make throughout the learning process. The connections within ourselves and our campus is everything. We take it in, inspire, design, and assess – things we couldn’t do, without access to the resources the institution and its people offer.