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Those Who Can’t Teach


“He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”  (George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman)
Thanks, Bernard. What exactly were you saying with that? That anyone not good enough for any other job or profession, can always turn to the profession of teaching? If one cannot function in the real world, the teaching profession is always so dire for help, it will take all and any rejects?
“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” (Woody Allen, Annie Hall)
Those who can’t what? Get a job anywhere else? Cannot face a job that demands long hours? Demands a persistent attitude working with a resistant client? Does not want to work under a stressful deadline?
Let’s try teaching!  They work short hours, have weekends and summers off, paid holidays.  They teach kids.  How hard can that be? Whee! 
Well, let me tell you, Bernie and Woody, teaching is a PROFESSION, one that demands more than any other job.  That 8 to 5, paid summers and holidays myth is a lie, and your cutesy, funny quote is an insult to those who teach.
A teacher has to love the act of learning so much they have to share that love of learning with others.  They know their subject matter so well, they can take it apart into its basic components and deliver it with finesse. Teachers keep a mental rolodex in their brains that almost instantly matches learning methods and materials to each student, so when a child “doesn’t get it” in one lesson, the teacher expertly tries it another way.
A teacher looks at each student as a client, a sometimes resistant, petulant, and angry client, but a client nonetheless. A teacher doesn’t have to love each student who walks into the classroom, but they have to like and care for the children who they serve.
A teacher works under a contract, one that demands certain outcomes for a set amount of pay, disregarding the long hours it takes for the teacher to deliver. They work evenings, weekends, holidays, and summers on their own nickel. These hours are not paid. Any other profession can bill for the time spent outside the time clock; teachers can’t. Any other profession can decline to serve certain clients; teachers can’t.  A recalcitrant student, an angry, demanding parent, a harsh public, the insulting myth that anyone can be a teacher – all of this makes it hard to choose the profession of teaching as a career.   
And those who can’t put up with all of these demands, can’t teach.


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