Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast. My name is Sam.
And today we’re asking what’s the craic about proverbs from around the world. So we’re gonna find out what the difference between wisdom and being smart is, Barbara’s gonna let us know about that.
We’ll find out whether we use them every day or whether we should be using them. We’re gonna look at wisdom – is it guaranteed with age and with experience? We’re gonna evaluate some well-known proverbs that we hopefully both know, or at least one of us does.
We’re gonna look at proverb from around the world that I’ve collected for us to discuss . And we’ll think about how they might apply to our lives or to other situations. So we’re really gonna get into it and maybe you’ll remember a proverb or two that you can use in your daily routine or in speaking or whatever.
Okay, so. Proverbs from around the world – now, before we get really down to the proverbs, we assume that they’re wise. But what is the difference between wisdom and being smart?
Well, that’s interesting. I think a smart could be like you’re very clever, and you can figure out things, like you don’t need to be clever and smart to start a war, right? But then is that a wise thing? And I think where does this wisdom come from?
Aristotle really believed that all of us really knows everything we need to know inside. It’s just we have to listen. And if you have intellectual wisdom, you’ll be able to make good judgement, but experience is really important.
Right. Yeah, I think, not to call myself wise, I’m not, but I think I’ve improved with age, I mean, as most people do. And with a little bit of experience, a little bit of pain. And that can sometimes give you a little bit of wisdom along with it if you like.
I don’t at all, I would say I have a little bit of wisdom. Certainly not wise, but a little bit. But I wouldn’t call myself smart. Maybe someone else could, but I’m not gonna tell lies. I don’t feel smart, I mean, I consider people smart as those who can remember things like interesting valuable information and maybe use it to calculate, to do mathematics or whatever.
And I don’t really… Not that I can’t do some of that stuff, but I don’t really consider myself smart. Maybe someone else can say that about me, but I won’t. So I think wisdom is the application of knowledge in the right time in the right way in the right situation, you know.
It’s knowing what to do in the right situation, in the particular situation that you’re in rather than… You can have lots of facts in your head, but how do you use them?
Decision making, making judgement…
Yeah, making good decisions I think. I guess you could describe it as that – making good decisions, which we all have to make every day maybe. Okay, we need a bit more of wisdom. In the Bible actually it says if any man lacks wisdom, he can ask God who gives to all men liberally, without reproach, I think it’s a quote by James, it’s in the book of James.
I think it’s… There’s an argument that wisdom comes directly from God. He’s got all the wisdom available, and you can get it from him. Package – a little package for free. And he won’t tell you off. I don’t know.
I think it’s good if you’re a praying person, pray for wisdom maybe. Are proverbs or sayings useful in everyday lives?
Yeah, I think so. I think we all use them – our mothers would tell us something, always have some kind of repeated phrase that will maybe encourage you or maybe will inspire you to make the right decision.
Yeah. My mom’s got a good phrase – I don’t think it’s a proverb, but it’s often used in our family. She says ‘when it’s eaten, it’s eaten’. So if you ask her Can I have a piece of cake? Can I have a biscuit? She’ll say Well, when it’s eaten, it’s eaten.
But that will be from life, right? I mean, once something is done, it’s done. You can’t have it.
It’s very simple, but actually it’s very philosophical, like once you eat… There’s another phrase – you can’t have your cake and eat it. And I mean it’s kinda based on that I suppose. You know, if you eat something – that’s it, you’ve spent, it’s gone, one shot at doing something I guess.
That’s different, cause ours is – you can’t have your cake and eat it too, which means – you can have the cake, but you can’t eat it, you can have everything you want in life, that’s what that means.
Well yeah, and my mom used to tell me I think mostly when I was a boy and wanted toys you know – she used to tell me ‘You can’t get everything you want’. Which I thought is a good lesson and I sometimes repeat it.
I repeat things that my mom and dad have told me. And mostly my dad’s saying jingles from the tv, and I still sing them myself. And to my wife sometimes as well. But yeah, I think too, I will agree with you, I think proverbs and sayings – we don’t necessarily think of them as proverbs, but they’re useful.
If they’re applied correctly. They’re quit useful. And I think parents like them too, cause they can use them sort of – this is the right way to do it, and they can talk to their child and, you know, give them a little word of advice.
Which hopefully they’ll listen to better if it’s in proverb or saying for it. And I’ll remember it better. So, do you often use proverbs, sayings or quotes?
No, I probably repeat myself all the time. And I think my daughter probably could say ‘oh you always said that!’ and I go ‘Oh really? I didn’t know I said that!’ So I’m sure there are things that I said constantly.
Yeah. And as you know, I’m starting to take up some that my mom has taught me and I mean, I probably add more to it as well. So I like… I must say that I read a book of proverbs from the Bible every day and some of them I remember and apply.
So I might not necessarily quote them to someone else. And I might. But I’ll often remember one or two of them when I need them. So I think maybe I don’t always speak them, as often as I remember them for myself, cause I think I need some things to understand certain situations at times. So yeah I might use them myself.
That reminds me of my aunt Emilia who always told me ‘Now Barbara, don’t forget your sweater!’ And that means in Santa Cruz, California, it would always be cold even in the summertime. When the sun goes down, it’s cold. And you can’t go out without your sweater! So that is one thing I always say.
So it’s kinda like ‘be prepared’.
Boy scouts, yeah, be prepared.
And it reminds me, just when you said that, there’s a phrase, and it’s kinda old English ‘Don’t shed a clout till May is out’. Clout is meaning a piece of clothing in this context. So don’t take off a piece of clothing until May is finished in other words.
So I don’t know if it’s necessarily true, it depends on how many clothes you’re wearing to start with. But it’s quite a good advice, you know, be careful during the spring, you know. It might be warmer, but you can get caught out.
I think it’s good advice for Siberia too. Cause the weather can be changeable, so you have to be careful. Okay. I like this question. Does age and experience guarantee wisdom?
Oh, yeah. We’re supposed to be getting smarter and more wise as we age. And I think… There must be a proverb for this and you can probably find something in the Bible about it. But that is, you know, you should talk so much, you know, a wise person kinda keeps quiet a little bit more.
And I probably am learning not to talk so much. Just don’t say everything you think.
Sit back and observe. I think, yeah, there’s something in the Bible actually, you know. Slow to speak, sorry, quick to listen and slow to speak.
Which is I think good advice, yeah. We can sometimes, or maybe I can sometimes speak too quickly. I don’t know. But yeah, well, as far as age I think it’s generally expected that someone with experience has wisdom.
Because maybe they’ve done it the wrong way or maybe they’ve done it the right way and they’ve learned from that. Or maybe they’ve see someone else, you know. I sometimes learn from others, cause you see a mistake that’s another person made and you may have done it yourself.
But then you see – right, they made a mistake, I’d better to avoid that. So I think with experience you can get wisdom, but it’s not guarantee, cause I met an older man who has given me advice one time in a church where I was going to, and honestly, I thought his advice was really really bad.
Really bad advice. And not even good in any regard. I mean he’s much older than I was and just really really bad advice.
But he was testing your wisdom to see if you’re going to follow his advice.
So I just kinda nodded and you know, he was friendly to me. He was a nice enough guy, but I didn’t follow his advice.
I had a similar situation in my 20s. I was seeing someone in their 40s I think – okay, this person really knows everything, you listen to someone talk and they don’t know anything.
I mean, it’s not guaranteed at all with age and experience, but it is more likely.
Now wisdom really does rely on making those right choices, you know, good judgement, right choices, I think. And you can be young and make good decisions.
That’s true. You can have a young person who’s wiser than an older person, so I guess it’s not guaranteed, but I guess… I will say about myself that I was as a boy, and even as a young man, I wasn’t as wise as I feel I am now. I’m not saying I’m wise, but I’ve improved let’s say.
I think that we’ve both improved.
I was quite silly I think at times. And I look back and think – why did I do that, you know? But so, I think experience and age can help, but it doesn’t guarantee that.
The way we can pacify ourselves is everybody says stupid things, everybody has done stupid things. And we just have to learn from them and become wiser.
Even Donald Trump. Maybe especially known. Okay, I just thought of him. Okay, so we’re gonna look at a few proverbs. We have kinda introduced the topic adequately, have we. I think we can move on. So we’re assuming these are wise, we’re gonna find out if they are.
So we’re evaluate a few proverbs initially, which are quite commonly known. And we’ll think about how we might use them, when they apply, when they don’t apply. And if there’s a personal situation where we could use them or could have used them.
So, let’s have a look. A bad workman always blames his tools.
Ah, yes, this definitely applies to me. So, in ballet you’ll always have, no matte what age, when you started ballet, your teacher has always said ‘It’s not the shoes’ or ‘It’s not the floor’.
I was doing some ballet research on some things I was writing, I found this 18th century teacher named Johannson who in this script was saying that he made a puddle on the floor of his classroom and he expected the dancers to be able to dance through the puddle.
And he said ‘It’s not the puddle that makes the dancer’, and so it’s funny how it’s really been brought down generation by generation. So I think, you know, it’s not the shoes, not the floor, it’s the bad dancer.
So, not being a dancer myself, if you saw me, you’d be cringing, but this might apply literally to tools for me. I mean, I’m not a workman, but as a guy I’m expected to know how to use a hammer and a screwdriver and, you know, a few other instruments.
And I can, I mean, I can use a hammer and a screwdriver at least. But if I’m doing something and I can remember, but I don’t remember specifics, but I can remember being told by my dad or my mom ‘Bad workman blames his tools’.
They were half-joking, but at the same time true, if I’m doing something and it’s not turning out well, my mom or dad would say, you know, ‘bad workman blames his tools’. If you say ‘I can’t work with this brush’ or ‘This screwdriver’s not so good’, my mom would say ‘A bad workman blames his tools’.
And I think there’s a lot of truth in it, but if your screwdriver is really old and, you know, if it is worn, or if you’re workman out in the streets, you know, you’ve a jackhammer, you know, this mechanical hammer, your camera’s broken, or it’s very very old…
I think it can apply to that situation. If it’s very very old equipment that has been worn down, then of course you’ve got some reason to complain.
I agree with that, because I did actually remember this, but I changed the tradition. To my students I would say if they were doing something and it wasn’t good, I would say ‘Be careful, because there’s something on the floor, you know, there’s a dip there’.
Or I would say ‘Let me see your shoes, these are really bad shoes, you need to get another pair’.
Right. So maybe it’s not as commonly said today as it used to. But if you’ve got skill, you can work with poor tools or poor instruments, but I think… So maybe there’s some truth to it – a skilled worker…
I don’t know, because Aristotle said ‘who have to have the right tools’. It’s not just ‘you have to have the right tools!’
He’s contradicting. So maybe there’s a wisdom for it, but not for every situation, you know. Okay, next one. Actions speak louder than words.
And what does it mean? Can you explain?
Are you gonna actually do it? Are you just gonna sit there and talk? You know, I’m this, I’m that. Oh really? Show me.
If I go home and say, you know, tell my wife I’m home earlier, I’ll make you dinner. I mean, that’s great, she might say Thanks. And that’s great, that’ll be helpful and whatever. And that would be good. I just said it.
But if I don’t actually do it, if I don’t act on it, then she’ll come home and she’ll be quite upset. Disappointed.
Sometimes people like to get that credit – I’m going to do this, I will do this. Oh, thank you thank you thank you. Oh, I don’t have to do it, I’ve got the appreciation already.
Sometimes you can get a promise and then, you know, the promise you’re really appreciating if you didn’t expect it. And then it turns out later – hang on, they promised but didn’t deliver, you know.
And I think that person got the credit. You know, so I think actions speak louder than words. I mean, for example, my wife – if I tell her every day I love her, but I never help her, that would be bad. I mean, there’s another phrase – hugs and kisses don’t do dishes.
I mean, if I didn’t help her out and told her ‘I love you, I love you’, but I didn’t do anything for her, I think she would certainly say ‘Well, hang on, Samuel, do you really love me? Cause you didn’t help me with that. I’m doing all the cleaning myself.
There’s this heavy box and you haven’t lifted it’, you know. So I mean, you have to act, I think, on whatever. Put your money where your mouth is. You know.
Or some kind of… It might be some kind of proverbs about dreamers, you know. To dream something, but you know, not actually carry that out.
Right. I have a dream, I have a dream, but if you don’t do anything, then you’re just the same as every other dreamer. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Yeah that’s a big philosophical question. What is art, isn’t it? What’s art?
It can apply to art. I guess it can apply to ballet dancing too. The form and, you know, the beauty, there’s beauty to it in the dance. Well I tend to think of it as, you know, one person will look at a guy or a girl or a lady and think ‘he or she is beautiful’,
whereas the next person will say ‘No, she’s not’ or ‘he’s not to me’. And I think there’s some truth in it that… I think we can all appreciate some things are beautiful. I mean, certain nature and certain maybe dancing in some way.
We can all appreciate and can say It’s beautiful. But I think different people appreciate it to different levels, that’s why.
That reminds me of a date that I had who would rescue dogs. And he’d say ‘Look at my new dog!’ And I said ‘oh, where did you get it?’ ‘Oh I just got it from the pound’ I said ‘What made you choose her?’
He said ‘Well, look at her!’ But that dog has zonks out, and I didn’t see anything, just brown and black, nothing particular sweet. But I wouldn’t have chosen that dog, I would’ve chosen something else. ‘But look at her!’ Can’t you see it?
Exactly. There are some dogs that I’ll say ‘that’s not a pretty dog’.
But the thing is that their family loves that dog.
Yeah. And dogs deserve being loved.
You reap what you sow. Have you heard of that one?
Yeah. And sometimes you sow and you still don’t reap.
It can happen, maybe you have t wait a bit longer to reap. You reap what you sow – whatever you put in, whether good or bad, you gotta get out the same whatever energy, whatever…
Yeah I think that’s what I’ve told my students and my daughter is that ‘you gotta work hard, but you still might not get it’.
Right. It’s maybe not true for every situation.
It’s kinda doubt, but it’s realistic. So actually stick with it, you know.
Yeah. So I could apply this – I’ve been sketching at times throughout the year, doing some sketches with pen, maybe sometimes a pencil. And sometimes, very often in fact, I do, like very quick sketches, and I don’t use a reference.
And I tend to do it from mind or memory and I kinda don’t get the results that I love. But I like it, but I don’t love it. But then when I use a reference, you know, go online, then find a picture, and maybe take a bit more time and use a pencil, and then a pen – I put more effort in, I actually get a better result.
I’m happier with the result, so I think in that respect, you know, you put more effort in, you can get a more satisfying result, so I think…
Yeah, and if you had a better tool, you could probably…
A bad workman… Ah, pencils are great! A simple pencil is actually better than using a pen actually. And then you use a pen after and tidy up a bit. Okay, so that was well-known proverbs.
Some of these ones were once maybe not so well-known and they’re from different parts of the world too. The next one is Welsh. The best candle is understanding.
Yeah, I don’t know that one.
I don’t know it either, but I found it. And well, what do you think it means? How would you…?
It’s about candles, and then a candle melts down when you burn them, and then they get kinda squishy and don’t stand.
But what does a candle do?
It shows you light. Shows you the way.
Shows you the way. It shows you what you should do maybe. Or where you need to go. Well, especially if you’re living in a house without electricity, which we shouldn’t anymore, but…
And people’s faces glow nicely in the candlelight.
True. Illuminates the situation, if you can say that. And understanding illuminates your situation, so the best candle is understanding.
I think we nailed it. We understood it. Maybe I’ll use that one sometime. I like it actually. The next one is Cuban, from Cuba. Another good one I think – Cheese, wine, and friends must be old to be good.
So, the older generation will love this.
And soon I’ll be loving it. Cheese, wine, and friends must be old to be good. And I, even in my youth, I mean, younger youth, if I can say that – I had good friends that were older men, retired men.
And we had good times together, adventures and stuff. And yeah, so maybe there’s a truth in it. Do you think…?
We say – I’m not getting older, I’m getting better.
I’m maturing, yeah, like a cheese.
So maybe the Cubans have got something there.
Yeah, I think so. They’re not so youth-oriented as we are in America.
Right, right. So, Zimbabwean proverb, right? We’re over to Africa now. We’ve been to Wales, and to Cuba, now we’re going to Zimbabwe. So I think this is probably a cultural thing in Zimbabwe, I’m not sure, but ‘if you can walk, you can dance’.
I think you’ll like this one, you like dancing. ‘If you can talk, you can sing’. Say that. If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing.
Sounds like there’s a ‘but’ after that.
That’s it. No, that’s the proverb. Well, I think it’s talking maybe health, you know. If you’re healthy enough to walk, then you can dance. So like my 94-year-old grandmother can walk, so maybe she can dance.
Maybe not just as energetic and jump up and down as I could, but maybe she can dance too. And if she can talk, then she can sing, so I think maybe it’s to do with…
Well the other person have to say, you know, beauty’s in the eye of beholder. Right?
But how does that connect?
Because a professional singer and a professional dancer might not think so. So they become very judgmental, you see.
Well, yeah, but it’s maybe only for you. You can dance, but it’s only for you, it’s not a performance.
Okay, okay, that would be good. You’d have to have a little bit, some kind of appendage to that. But then, I would love to be able to sing, but I can’t sing.
Okay. Figaro, Figaro! No, no. So maybe between two of us we can be a performer: you can dance, I can sing. I’m not saying I can sing well, but I can… It’s not terrible, it’s not terrible.
An Irish proverb next. The work praises the man.
Yes, those Irish really know.
The work praises the man. Oh, the Irish have got some wisdom. And even Northern Irish sometimes too. The work praises the man.
I like it, I like that very much.
What do you think it means?
It’s what you’ve just produced – you don’t have to say ‘Oh look at me, I’ve done this’, you can just wait till a passerby says oh, you’ve really done something, you’ve achieved something in your life, in artistic project.
So, a guy or a lady, lady, not a girl, doesn’t need to kind of blow their trumpet and to say how great he or she is. He can just have whatever he’s produced – you decide.
That’s humbleness that makes you a better person.
I like that. I really like that one. Okay. We’re moving over to Mexico now. Not so far from the states. It’s not enough to learn how to ride, you must also learn how to fall. So you don’t just learn how to ride, you should learn how to fall. Fall. So I guess it’s maybe for bicycle, or maybe more a horse.
Oh I thought you said write.
Oh, write, right, yeah. My accent – it must be my accent. It must be me accent! What accent is that? It’s my Northern Irish accent. You can’t understand what I’m saying.
Well, I like that, definitely, because you’re projecting yourself to failure, because that’s what happens when you try to do things. And recover being resilient – definitely.
Get back up on the horses, they say, and so on. It is quite good actually. There’s wisdom to it, because if anything, whether it’s learning English or learning Russian, or learning to ride a bike, or anything, absolutely anything – ballet dancing, whatever it is.
You’re gonna fail, or feel a failure at some stage, you know, in the process. And maybe even after, so, yeah, it’s good to learn how to fall.
So now, you have to learn how to fall properly, cause someone can say – fall this way, and then you actually fall another way. And that doesn’t work.
Right. Goal keepers as well, goal keepers need to learn how to fall literally.
Yeah, you mean like ice skating.
Yeah, or in football, soccer as well, those guys.
Right, right. So I was ice skating and they gave us a whole lesson how to fall. We were suppose to bend our knees and fall on the side, so I practiced it, I was really good falling on the ice, but then when I fell, I fell backwards and broke my wrist.
Oh my goodness. So, it’s definitely important to learn. Over to Turkey now. Oh we’re really travelling the world today. Even though you know a thousand things, ask the man who knows one.
Say, you know a thousand pieces of information, how to do a thousand jobs. But you see a man who knows how to do one. So maybe you can learn something from him. He doesn’t have the knowledge you have.
I mean, you know a thousand things, he only knows one thing. But you can learn that one thing from him and then if you go to a thousand people, you’ve learned two thousand things in total.
Yeah, I think… I mean, I think what it’s saying is you might be very knowledgeable, but you could still learn from someone who’s much less knowledgeable. There’s something they can benefit…
I think it’s something like spy work, or military, where you only know one little aspect of this big secret.
So in order for you to put together this big secret, you have to go to each one and gather that information.
Even though you know a thousand things, and then the next person says – ask the man who knows one. Maybe it’s happening in Turkey right now. That spies are working. I think it’s more about gaining knowledge from someone even though they seem like they don’t know very much, you can still learn something from them.
Yeah, they have something in there. Italy. If you can’t live long, live deeper.
So it’s about enjoying life, or getting the best out of life.
Yeah, not doing anything just surfaced… Just get in there and really enjoy it, learn something on deep level, throw your iPad away, throw your cellphone away.
Maybe not completely away. Set it down somewhere. Japan now. Fall seven times, this is kinda like before a little bit. Fall seven times, stand up eight.
I think we can get that as long as you stand up more times than you’ve fallen, you’ll be successful. Keep going in other words. A Chinese proverb. A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. Isn’t it nice?
I don’t know where’s wisdom in that. Not sure, but.
Well for me, it made me take a nice deep breath. It has a beauty in producing something, in saying something. So if you don’t have anything to say, then just don’t say anything.
Maybe, maybe it’s kind of… Someone can sing, but they don’t have the answer, they just like, you know, they have a song to sing, they have something to say, but it might not be the answer. Could that be?
So, I don’t know if it’s warning you or it’s just telling about people will speak, people will sing, and, you know, watch out for them.
I guess it depends on what kind of bird.
Well I’m thinking of a little sparrow. Sitting in a tree.
A little sparrow. Okay, there’s a bird that goes like ‘qua qua qua’, cause they alert you. That would be the proverb to really - pay attention to it. A little sparrow, just listen to it sing.
I guess it’s more like that. Okay, England now. Closer to home for me. Some men go through a forest and see no firewood. So they’re walking through a forest and they can’t see any firewood that’s useful.
I think it’s about someone who, you know, there are lots of opportunities, but they haven’t seized it, they don’t recognize the opportunities I think. You can gain a lot if you recognize the opportunities.
Yeah, what was it? Carpe diem, seize the day?
Right. Carpe diem, that’s right. Is that Latin?
That’s right. And a Russian one to finish, cause we can’t leave out Russian and go to all those other places. There is no shame. And I’m gonna say that in English. There is no shame in not knowing, a shame lies in not finding out.
So I think what it’s saying is, you know – don’t be ashamed if you don’t have the knowledge, you know, especially if you’re young or you’re learning. The embarrassment or the shame should be when you don’t find out.
So, I mean, in modern times that would be google it, which actually, working in engineering, I mean, and even doctors – they have to learn. They have to google, well, maybe not always google, but they go to places to get information. Find out facts and find out the correct standards or whatever.
Yeah, the studies that they have made.
Yeah, I mean, a doctor, an engineer – they’re always learning. So it’s not about how much knowledge they can retain, it’s about having it available or finding it out in some cases to apply to the right situation.
That will keep one youthful too, cause you don’t wanna be just sedentary, right? Keep <..>, ask questions, and learn.
Which were your favorite?
I don’t know, maybe the one about the song. I liked that one.
A bird doesn’t sing cause it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
It has something to express. I think that.
It’s nice. It’s nice and I think it’s got… I don’t really fully understand the meaning, but I think it’s got more than one level.
But I like the simplicity of the Irish one – the work praises the man. I like that one.
Well I think you’re a little biased.
So, guys, that was the craic about proverbs around the world. We talked a little bit about the difference between being smart and being wise. We talked about the use of provers and saying – do we use them, do we use them every day, do we use them with our family and friends and so on.
Does age and experience guarantee wisdom? We kinda think no, not necessarily. And we went to some of the common proverbs and then some of the world proverbs and we discussed them for you. So guys, that was the craic about proverbs from around the world.