The title of this blog post is part of a quote from George Bernard Shaw's Maxims for Revolutionists.
“He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.”
This quote used to irritate me. It was a direct insult to the profession of teaching. It disparages the value addition good teachers can bring. Teachers can inspire and fast track growth, without good teachers how can we expect sufficient number of practitioners.
We do see exceptional self taught people, but when we want to scale skill development for a world that is automating low skilled jobs, I predict the importance of teachers only growing.
The reason why I say it used to irritate me is because I now see a different interpretation which I agree with. I now read the quote in a mournful tone. Bernard might be trying to call attention to the state of society where we don't value teaching enough and people turn to the profession as a last resort.
Maybe due to remuneration, status, etc we see people who are both good at teaching/knowledgable and good enough to work in the industry rarely choose to teach. Even in academia people would rather emphasise the research they do than take pride in teaching.
We all agree the education system needs reforms, why do so many people turn to self learning. Are the successful students succeeding because of our system or inspite of it?
So in closing I leave you with a comic by Zen Pencils which addresses this quote,