Why Are Fish So Smart?

“Why Are Fish So Smart?” I’ve been listening over the last few weeks, both amongst my friends and in Living Compass groups that I’ve been leading, to quite an assortment of new things that people are excited about doing. Some of these things will be first-time experiences for people and some will be things they are returning to doing. Here is a sample of what I’ve heard: signing up for beginner’s yoga, picking up the guitar again, joining a book group, starting a practice of journaling, finding a church to join, taking ballroom dance lessons, and a whole variety of classes that people are signing up for, including cooking, photography, computer training, exercise and painting. I’m guessing that as you listen to people in your circles of connection, you hear similar things. All across the country this week, millions of kids of all ages are going back to school, and along with them are hundreds of thousands of teachers, teacher’s aides, principals, secretaries, bus drivers, administrators, custodians, plus lunchroom and playground attendants. As I thought about this, and as I thought about all the learning experiences that people I know are currently signing up for, I realized that “going back to school” is not just something for children. Each of us are “going back to school” every time we decide to intentionally focus on learning something new or intentionally decide to further our knowledge or our expand our experience regarding a particular subject or activity.

The following joke will no doubt be heard in more than a few kindergarden classrooms this week:

“Do you know why fish are so smart?” “No, why?” “Because they live in schools!”


Well, the same can be said about people: the smart people are those who “live in schools.” They are the ones who have discovered the delight of life-long learning, the ones who regularly stretch themselves to learn and experience new things on a regular basis. The opposite is also true. People who haven’t been “in school,” those who are not involved in any kind of life-long learning, soon discover that their world begins to constrict and contract--not just intellectually, but emotionally and spiritually as well.

Everywhere we turn this week we will hear some kind of story or sales campaign related to going back to school. May it serve as a reminder to all of us that “going back to school” for us as adults is not an obligation, but a gift that we can give ourselves any time we choose. Consider some way in which you may want to go “back to school” right now in your life, and then make it happen. And what the heck, why not go all out and buy yourself a new outfit and backpack, too!