I myself preferred the old way to learn skills by watching.
Not saying the new way is bad per se. But it had some side effects.
I remember an ex-PO Shaolin stating that now suddenly everyone can use meditate and this very effectively (because it is fairly easy to learn nowadays, compared to ancient times). And this is kind of true. It was much harder to learn certain skills in the past.
I agree with PO Blizt insofar that I don't think one should speculate on IC knowledge on an OOC forum, but then again PO Delia is also correct. I think my oldest character even knows about hiteyes just by watching some old "hiteyes users".
Perhaps a future revision of the skill system could take up suggestions like that (what old players liked in the old skill system) and even add new elements (synergistic effects from one skill to another, so that i.e. a master of the spear could fight with a polearm somewhat efficiently even if he'd have no knowledge of it, as opposed to someone who is totally incompetent with both a spear or polearm). And of course to pick up the old idea of really "mastering" a specific skill - something that would take a lot of time, and would yield only a slight bonus, but would be immensely hard to achieve. Something like this did exist in the old Might and Magic saga (computer game), where you had to find a real master, in order to further advance in that skill (and gain extra benefits from that, though in that game those benefits were of course overpowered - it was a hack and slay game after all.)
Best race: halflings.