“Those who can’t do, teach” is a common refrain amongst people who are unable to, or have never tried to teach, used when they want to denigrate the teaching profession. Sometimes this will be followed by the less common ending to the joke that further hammers home the point: “Those who can’t teach, lecture; and those who can’t lecture, consult”.
Whilst this is certainly true to some extent for many passionate educators around the world who would not want to do anything besides teaching or lecturing, based on my experience of teaching, lecturing AND consulting at several levels of Taiwan’s education system for 15 years, I can tell you that the reverse of the original phrase is also often very accurate, that “Those who can do, can’t teach”.
I’m sure that anyone who has experienced Taiwanese higher education, by which I mean Taiwanese university-level education and above, would have similar impressions and experiences to share. It turns out that this is also a significant issue in college education in the United States of America, as the author of this New York Times article makes clear.
Have you ever wondered why you didn’t learn very much from some of your university professors, despite them being ‘famous’, or even though they (or you) had attended a ‘prestigious’ school? Here is your answer: that expert-in-their-own-field who taught you probably didn’t have much skill at teaching, and more likely than not, they probably hadn’t ever received any teacher training, nor is it likely that they had any teaching qualifications.
As this article points out, many college professors in the United States – the same definitely applies in Taiwan, as well as elsewhere around the globe – have no idea how to teach, and simply stand in front of the class, reading out PowerPoint slides verbatim, delivering extremely tedious or irrelevant lectures, or else they just tell students to do textbook exercises for the entire period. So it remains to be seen, why bother with a university education if you’re just going to have to endure mind-numbing, unqualified drivel for hours, when some of the world’s richest people did not even graduate from university?
Those Who Can Do, Can’t Teach