Look at your fish – Learning to See

Learning to See
    Learning to See by Samuel H.
Scudder is a tale of one student’s attempt to observe everything there is to
observe about a certain fish. After a mere ten minutes of observation, Scudder
thought that he knew all there was to know about the specimen. So, he went and
sought out his professor, Louis Agassiz. The professor had left the building
and would not return for some time. So, Scudder returned to the fish he
loathed. After many more hours of study, the professor returned and asked what
Scudder had learned about the fish. After reeling off numerous amounts of data
about the structure of the fish, the professor became upset and told Scudder
that he had missed the most obvious point about the fish. He was told to look
harder. After thinking about the fish night and day, Scudder finally told the
professor “that the fish has symmetrical sides with paired organs.”
The professor was quite pleased with his response, and to this day Scudder
claims that it was the best entomological lesson he ever learned.
    During this whole story, Scudder was
placing much emphasis on the idea of observation. It is through observation
that we get our ideas for questions. Observations can also lead us to answers
for our questions. Many people miss the really obvious things in our lives. How
many times does one walk down the street and completely ignore the surrounding
area. We only notice the trees when their leaves change or they get hit by
lightning. The small things are taken for granted. Many times, it is the small
details that make the big picture what it really is. If the leaves were green,
it would not be fall. That one tiny detail can change the whole season. If the
sun is not present, then it is nighttime. This is yet another detail we take
for granted, though this one is slightly more significant than the other one.
An important lesson can be learned about observation: always be aware of what
is around you. Sometimes our observations can lead to very important
    This story proves that authorities are
not always people. It just so happens that this fish is the authority. It true
that it was the professor that told Scudder to look at the fish, but it was the
fish itself that made Scudder see what he had to see. It was the fish that
allowed him to see the most basic of all observations. The fish didn’t have to
say one word. It didn’t actually stand up and say to Scudder, “Look at me
and you will see all the is to know.” The fish took action without words.
All it had to do was sit there in front of Scudder and prompt him to look for
the most basic of all observations. The fish was the authority who showed
Scudder how to find and obtain all the knowledge he needed.