“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”
This is said to be from the George Bernard Shaw play “Man and Superman” and based on the proverb – Those who are especially skilled in a certain field or area will be able to pursue a career, while those who are less skilled will end up teaching about it instead.
This presumes that a career is the most valued aspect of being skilled in a field. I suppose that is true in regard to having money. I don’t think that it is truly an accurate statement. If someone is not skilled in the field, how would their knowledge be valuable enough to create a new generation of skilled people? Though you can see this case, seemingly, in athletics. Correct, those of high skill level probably won’t teach. Those that had long careers, though, probably will. We don’t see Michael Jordan, Shaq, Peyton Manning, Deion Sanders, Wayne Gretsky, nor Mario Lemieux coaching. We have seen a lawyer/high school hockey coach become the coach of a back-to-back Stanley Cup winning team. Has it never surprised you that the biggest names of coaching were NOT the biggest names playing the game?
There is much demeaning and condescending attitudes toward those viewed as lesser. Ego and arrogance tend to lead that. My experiences have lead me to look for the quieter person. That one who speaks clearly and concise without hesitation. These are usually the one who helped make the stars perform better. They are also the ones who understand the game better. Throughout my martial arts training, I have come across very talented martial artists and many not so talented but full of heart. Those that struggle with learning technique or concepts often develop them the best. They have to understand the material more deeply to perform it. This depth of understanding can come with a greater understanding of how to convey the skill to others. Helping others understand is the greatest aspect of teaching!
“Beware of an old man in a profession where men usually die young.”
If you hear me comment that “those who can’t, teach” should bear in mind that I’ve taken a different view on this. After spending their lives being challenged in any number of ways, these people have come back to present all of their knowledge to the next generation. Who better to learn from than those who lived it and adapted it to the changes! The ability to use high speed problem solving and new concepts to survive…even, thrive…in a quickly changing world. These are the people who understand who their brothers and sisters are and want to make sure they also succeed.
A great example of this is one of my students. I’ve got a 77 year old with 4th Dan and 5th Dan ranks in a couple martial arts. While he is starting to fail physically, he never fails to inspire those on the floor with him. His spirit is envied and his knowledge outstanding. As he watches students train, he sees ideas to help them improve. I’m certain that he’s forgotten more than I’ve ever learned!