They gave us an opportunity to learn by fire

The (un)Civil Professor of Malaphors, Martin Pietrucha, strikes again with this beauty overheard at a conference.  It is a perfect mash up of “learn by example” (educated by watching someone or something) and “baptism by fire” (a first experience of something, usually difficult).  “Under fire” (criticized) might also be in the mix, although I think the shared word here is “by”.