Blake Snow

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Knowing how to solve problems is better than knowing answers

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In response to “What are some examples of intelligence disguised as stupidity?” Graham Zaretsky offered the following on Quora:

When I was a freshman in college, one of my fellow freshmen, a young girl who obviously had skipped a bunch of grades would occasionally come to my dorm room in the evenings to ask for help on the homework we both were taking. I was happy to help her out.

After this had happened a few times, she came and asked me about a problem that I, myself was still struggling with. I was stuck on it, and I told her that. She then proceeded to explain to me in great detail how to solve it.

It turned out that what she was doing was going to multiple people (not just me) to see all the different methods that people were using to solve the same problem. She knew how to answer all the questions that I thought she was having trouble with. She just wanted to see if there were other ways to solve those problems, or to see how well she was doing as compared with everyone else. In the end, she far surpassed me in those classes in every way.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

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