A teacher posted on the Teacher Chatboard:
Someone said to me last night, "Those Who Can, Do; Those Who Can't, Teach." I was at a loss for words! How would you respond to that incredibly rude comment?
Wise - and sometimes wisecracking - suggested responses poured forth…
Posted by Joe
And those who can do neither spout clichés. .Or,
And those who can't think spout cliches.
Posted by anon
Jump in their face and scream..."YO MAMMA" gets 'em every time.
Posted by tapow
Those who can teach, those who can't, train.
Posted by Lulu
Tack on "Those who can't teach ____ ." Fill in the blank with the profession of the person who made the rude comment! (e.g., "Those who can't teach become accountants.") Okay, I've never actually said this and frankly, it doesn't make much sense, but it might make someone think about what a stupid, offensive comment, "Those who can't do, teach" is.
Posted by No nam
No, you're wrong. Those who understand it pass it on to their students. And sometimes in such a way that even if the student doesn't understand it, he/she can still mimic it.
Posted by Donna music/TN
"I couldn't teach if I didn't know what to do and how to do it."
For me, it's a very apt statement. I'm not a performance musician, not because of lack of desire, inclination, or talent, but because of lack of physical stamina. I can't handle that sort of adrenaline cycle, the amount of travel required, or the irregular schedule. Teaching, with its regular hours and expectations works quite well for me. But, in large part is the fact that I spent years preparing for the performance career, and made a choice to go a different route in graduate school, that makes me a good teacher.
Posted by ^u^
I find that statement so incredibly rude. I would not get into any lengthy explanations because the person who says something like that just doesn't care. I love teaching, I am good at it, and getting better. I would never waste my time explaining that to an ignorant fool.
Posted by Tom/Kentucky
I would say, "Thank goodness those "who can" had teachers who could teach them to do what they're doing now. Otherwise, they would be someone "who can't." How do you think they became competent enough to be one of those "who can"?
Posted by Sonia
What if you asked them what they thought that statement meant? I wonder if they would/could explain it. Maybe that will stop them. If I can't speak Chinese, should I teach it as a foreign language? If I can't do calculus, should I teach it? Turn it back on them and show their stupidity.
Posted by BattleShip Ron
"Thank you for the lesson! You learn something new everyday! Thanks!"
Posted by radan2
"Why are you insulting me in public?"
This is a transactional game: this person is getting validation by putting others down. To end it, you must move from the game to the purpose. What they said is an insult--a deliberate public put-down. Don't react to it; instead, move to deny the validation so the game does not work. Do not discuss teaching, seek to defend yourself, or anything else. Simply ask them why they are behaving so rudely. He will probably make some comment about your not having a sense of humor, which is also an insult. So your reply is, "Why do you need to keep saying cruel things about me?" "Have I ever done anything to you that makes you so insulting?" "What are you getting out of all these put-downs?" Do not make statements, continue to ask questions.
Posted by Jo
I like the response, "I don't know what you make, but I MAKE A DIFFERENCE!"
Posted by Anon
"Incorrect. Those who CARE, Teach. You must have your incredibly rude quote incorrect."
"And who taught you to read? To think? To write?"
(If they say "My mother" "Well that is certainly a damning review of your mother.")
Posted by PST
I would silently look at them without saying a word so long that they become uncomfortable, really uncomfortable and then I would walk away without a single word. If they later apologized, I would say "No thanks," because they just told you exactly who they are and you believe them.
Posted by GreenBunny, queen of non-verbal communication
I'm never brave enough to do as radan2 suggests so I always fall back on my nod and smile response with the chilly smile mixed with the quizzical look that says "you're a jackass." Sometimes, it can accompany the quick look up and down with a lifted eyebrow that suggests that what the speaker is wearing is somehow dirty, inappropriate or just ill-advised. Amazingly enough, it tends to stop people, especially women, in their tracks.
Posted by RD
"Those who can teach, should teach!"
Teaching is an art and a science unto itself. TEACHING is the discipline - not geography, math, history, English . . . TEACHING/Expertise in the use of instructional strategies and methods.
People who make this 'Can' 'Do' 'Can't' statement are not worth the comeback - they won't get it anyway.
Posted by Helen/HS/La.
:-) Ask them, "Who said that?"
Sort of like "The first we do is kill all the lawyers"
There isn't a lawyer on earth who can't explain that quote and its context.
The people who love to say it rarely can!
Posted by nfm
"Those who CAN, teach, even teach A*S*S*E*S like YOU!"
Posted by Frances/TX
Aristotle and Einstein had something a little different to say:
Those who educate children well are more to be honored than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well.
It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.
Posted by flowerchild
I think Joe's is the "snappiest" come-back.
You might consider not making any come-back at all. There is truth in the statement, so why debate it? Almost every art teacher or professor that I've met teaches because it is so difficult to support oneself by art production alone. Some can "do" great art, some cannot. The main reason not to respond is that he is not interested in good reasons for teaching - anger is the response he wants, so don't give him the satisfaction. If he clearly meant to attack you personally, and is not just acting like an ass to get attention, then I would follow radan's suggestion.
Posted by Ollie
This is what you should say. Put on your best teacher demeanor and say,
"Actually, the precise quote is, "He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches." by George Bernard Shaw in "Maxims for Revolutionists". Do you have any questions? Is there anything else I can do for you?"
Posted by jrrf
I try to take the high road when people make rude remarks. I have come to understand it is a problem with them and not me, so I don't even respond. I just look at them for a few seconds to let them know that I know who they are now and then I either walk away or change the subject. I don't feel the need to draw my sword because I also know who I am and what do I care what they think? I don't get my validation from others. I answer only to the man upstairs.
Posted by jane.eyre
Those who can do; those who can teach, do wonders.
Posted by LaurieA
I love Ollie's response!!! I hope I can use it someday!!!
Posted by Helen/HS/La.
Furthermore, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." Like most sayings, this is only half true. Those who can, teach; those who can't -- the bitter, the misguided, the failures from other fields -- find in the school system an excuse or a refuge.
--Bel Kaufman, _Up the Down Staircase_ (1974)
Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.
--George Bernard Shaw
(And those who can't teach, teach the teachers.)
--Laurence J. Peter, _Peter's Quotations: Ideas for our Time_ (1977)
Posted by Anita
Give someone a fish and she/he eats for a day.
Teach someone to fish and he/she eats for a lifetime.
Posted by Tom (Houston)
I like this version:
Those who can, teach - those who can't, flip burgers.
Those who can, teach - those who can't, dig ditches.
Those who can, teach - those who can't, work the box office.
Those who can, teach - those who can't, do plumbing.
Those who can, teach - those who can't, finish concrete.
Those who can, teach - those who can't, stock the shelves.
Those who can, teach - those who can't, drive a big rig.
Those who can, teach - those who can't, wash dishes.
Those who can, teach - those who can't ....... get the picture?
Posted by I would say,
"Wow, that's an incredibly rude comment."
Posted by anon
" Then why aren't you in the field?"
Posted by Tut
I used to have a t-shirt many years ago that said "Those who can teach, those who can't go in to some less significant profession." I forgot about that t-shirt until I read this post.
Posted by Nameless
Ask innocently, "Those who can't, do what?"
Then just wait patiently while idiot stammers... then...ask.... "Those who can't put a sentence together?"
"Those who can't have an original thought?"
"Those who can't be polite?….repectful? ...have appropriate social skills? ... have a meaningful relationship because they are dumb0@sses?" …and so on....
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