Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach

This so-called ‘proverb’ was originally coined in 1903, by George Bernard Shaw, and has since been flung around quite ungraciously over the years since.

Somewhere along the line, we decided it was acceptable to disparage the teaching profession. However, I view this topic from a very different perspective. I struggle to find a more noble profession than education. The teachers who are so very often, freely criticised, have dedicated their working lives to our future solicitors, pilots, actors, engineers, and all the others. So why do we not give them more credit?

Recall three people from your past and/or present who motivated you to get where you are today.

Immediately, I am swarmed by images of my best and favourite teachers and lecturers throughout the years (and, of course, my parents). My Year Four history teacher convinced me I wanted to become an archaeologist, long before I was able to spell the word. My Sixth Form English teacher allowed me to explore my creativity, with her assurance that I had all the makings of an author. My First Year Practical Management Lecturer, who has me sold on the idea of professional coaching when I finish my undergraduate degree.

The teachers who inspired me were those who convinced me I could take on the world. Teaching is an art. Teaching is a skill. It requires boundless energy.

Unfortunately, not everyone takes on the role they are most suited to. We have all been served by a clumsy waitress, survived a terrible haircut, or received such poor service we have boycotted that store for the rest of that week! Just like there are unreliable people in every other profession; there are high-quality teachers and the teachers who are all but blinded by the promise of an extended summer holiday.

The best teachers are the ones who can ‘do’ and can ‘teach,’ they are passionate about their subject and their students and really want to make a difference in the world.

If we chose not to judge the profession based on its poorest professionals, rather consider its finest, suddenly teaching is a club for only the most exclusive of members. Maybe those who can, ‘do’. But maybe they ‘do’ because they cannot ‘teach’?



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