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Old 25th January 2009, 04:45 PM   #1
Undesired Walrus
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Origin of 'Those who can't do teach"

I was wondering if Woody Allen was the creator of this phrase. He wrote it in 1977:

"Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, teach gym".

Does it date back earlier than that?
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Old 25th January 2009, 05:35 PM   #2
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Allen's version strikes me as a play on the original, taking it to the next level of absurdity and humor. Based on what little I know of Woody Allen, jokes, and language, I'd guess by the structure (three-part, rather than two-part) and context (a movie by a known comedian), that it's not the original.
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Old 25th January 2009, 06:15 PM   #3
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I believe the original to be...

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.

Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists"

George Bernard Shaw.
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Old 30th January 2009, 08:32 AM   #4
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Beat me to it - I use it frequently.

More's the pity.
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Old 30th January 2009, 08:37 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Allen's version strikes me as a play on the original, taking it to the next level of absurdity and humor. Based on what little I know of Woody Allen, jokes, and language, I'd guess by the structure (three-part, rather than two-part) and context (a movie by a known comedian), that it's not the original.
Woody Allen. The guy built his career on putting his spin on old jokes, masterfully.

Just had to testify for the man.
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Old 30th January 2009, 11:29 AM   #6
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I don't know the origin, but I've always known it as:

Those that can, do
Those that can't, teach
And those that can't teach teach teachers.

Dave
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Old 30th January 2009, 12:40 PM   #7
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Or, the related version I know...

Those who can, do.
Those who can't, teach.
Those who can't teach, administrate.
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Old 4th February 2009, 10:31 PM   #8
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The version I use
Those who can, do
Those who can't, teach
Those who can't teach, write about those that do and teach.
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Old 5th February 2009, 12:17 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by zooloo View Post
I believe the original to be...

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.

Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists"

George Bernard Shaw.
Neat! Another "Let's Put the E in JREF" award.

Americans generally attribute it to Mencken, but I've never seen it given a date, and I'll have to say that Man and Superman is before Mencken was making quotable statements (he would've only been in his 20s 1903).
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Old 5th February 2009, 12:21 AM   #10
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I heard it as,
"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, teach at Community College."
I'm sure it varies to circumstances.
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Old 5th February 2009, 12:08 PM   #11
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Those who can't do, teach.
Those who can't teach, manage.
Those who can't manage, consult.

There is a relevant short story by... Orson Scott Card? The main character is an assistant principal who works his behind off and is rewarded with the position of principal.
He decides he wants more, consults with his wife. Together they make make the fateful decision. He takes yet more training, works longer hours, etc, until after years of sacrifice, he gets his final reward, and and is promoted to teacher.


CT (runs a consulting company, and manages)
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Old 5th February 2009, 12:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.
George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists: Education. Man and Superman, 1903.

I love being a librarian.
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Old 5th February 2009, 12:51 PM   #13
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It's a pragmatic statement, essentially playing on the difference between athletic and intellectual motivations. Because both disciplines would be superior, it quietly encourages it's own invalidation.
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Old 5th February 2009, 01:15 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by SirPhilip View Post
It's a pragmatic statement, essentially playing on the difference between athletic and intellectual motivations. Because both disciplines would be superior, it quietly encourages it's own invalidation.
What absolute word salad. How,.... pentagonal.
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Old 5th February 2009, 02:38 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by zooloo View Post
I believe the original to be...

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.

Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists"

George Bernard Shaw.
Thanks, this is interesting news for me. I also find it interesting that the phrasing and context of this original comes across as affirmational of teaching, while the modern equivalents come across as derogatory against teachers.

To me the above implies external factors preventing one from taking action, while the modern versions seem to imply internal lack of ability.
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Old 6th February 2009, 09:15 PM   #16
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Ah ****. I can't do. That's plain enough. I tried teaching, but it turned out I couldn't do that either. What's left for me?
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Old 6th February 2009, 09:22 PM   #17
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Those who can, foster progress.
Those who can't, foster progress reports.
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Old 7th February 2009, 09:44 PM   #18
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I had a colleague who taught AP chemistry a few years back. He had this great T-shirt:

Those who can, do.

Those who can do more, teach.



And yes I'm a teacher. I teach high school AP physics & college physics/astronomy. There are a lot of damn good teachers out there, but I will also be the first to admit there are a lot of idiots in classrooms out there as well (and I don't mean the students).
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Old 8th February 2009, 08:27 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
And yes I'm a teacher. I teach high school AP physics & college physics/astronomy. There are a lot of damn good teachers out there, but I will also be the first to admit there are a lot of idiots in classrooms out there as well (and I don't mean the students).
Well, teaching is a skill. The broader skill mix you demand, the less levels you have to expect, because people can't be brilliant at everything.

If you want a brilliant physicist, it's hard enough to find them.
If you want a brilliant physicist who is also a brilliant teacher, it's much harder. So it's not surprising that the DoD -- which doesn't care about teaching -- hires better physicists than St. Grottlesex.

If you want a brilliant physicist who is also a brilliant teacher, a concert oboeist, and an Olympic gymnast.... I don't think such a person exists. So if you want to hire a physics teacher who can also play oboe in the school band and coach the gymnastics team, you'll have to settle for adequacy, or perhaps even "barely competent," in at least one of those areas.
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Old 8th February 2009, 10:29 AM   #20
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I've always said it this way "them what can does, them what can't talks about it"
I learned this as a kid, probably from my dad, who WANTED to be a teacher.
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Old 8th February 2009, 11:21 AM   #21
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I always thought it was

If you can't work, then teach.
If you can't teach, then administrate.
If you can't administrate, then legislate.
If you can't legislate, then litigate.
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Old 9th February 2009, 08:30 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Undesired Walrus View Post
I was wondering if Woody Allen was the creator of this phrase. He wrote it in 1977:

"Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, teach gym".

Does it date back earlier than that?
Ahh, Woody Allen. Not only do I think he is a douche bag, but the pump and hose as well. I find his movies just horrible.

His quotes, not always so bad.
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Old 20th February 2009, 04:31 AM   #23
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In Japan, it goes like this:

Those who can, do.

Those who can't, teach.

Those who can't teach, teach EFL.
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Old 20th February 2009, 05:45 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by tyr_13 View Post
Ahh, Woody Allen. Not only do I think he is a douche bag, but the pump and hose as well. I find his movies just horrible.
I was waiting for this to pop up..

I just couldn't disagree with you more. I see him and often think to myself: "There is no greater person on this planet".
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Old 20th February 2009, 05:54 AM   #25
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I don't know if Woody Allen said that but its true.
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Old 20th February 2009, 09:08 PM   #26
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What, about gym teachers?
Woody Allen was making a joke, a spoof, a parody, a send off of the original quote.
Anybody who sincerely thinks the original is true probably doesn't know anything worth teaching.
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Old 21st February 2009, 05:03 AM   #27
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The phrase is a gross simplification of the truth. It probably refers to teachers of children only. I have been taught by teachers as a adult heaps of times. There are two types of teacher

1. Those that are good at teaching what they know. They teach as their job. However if you ask them a tricky question then they do not know the answer. This sort of person the phrase is aimed at.

2. These people are not really teachers. They only teach part time. For the rest of the time they actually do the work. They know everything or nearly everything about the subject. However they may not know how to teach.
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Old 23rd February 2009, 06:13 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Cosmic Roy View Post
Ah ****. I can't do. That's plain enough. I tried teaching, but it turned out I couldn't do that either. What's left for me?
That's easy. Find a carpet-walled cubicle to live in and then attend meetings.
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Old 23rd February 2009, 09:13 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by drkitten View Post
Well, teaching is a skill. The broader skill mix you demand, the less levels you have to expect, because people can't be brilliant at everything.
Is it really that big of a skill? The only real thing I've ever needed to have teaching people is patience. The other problem is knowing what the hell you are talking about. If you fail at that you are screwed and this is coming from someone whose has had complete mastery over subjects to being one theory short of actually explaining a subject. As for high school classes I could probably teach physics, eventually chemistry (Given the weird and freakishly random direction my career just took), almost every single type of high school math, and maybe biology.
Quote:
"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, teach at Community College."
Ehhh gods. Community college for my brother has been an abject disaster. My mother called me up asking about a simple biology question that typically would involve being taught a Punnett square. The stupid teacher did not go over anything involving Punnett squares.
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Old 24th February 2009, 06:22 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by technoextreme View Post
Ehhh gods. Community college for my brother has been an abject disaster. My mother called me up asking about a simple biology question that typically would involve being taught a Punnett square. The stupid teacher did not go over anything involving Punnett squares.
See, and I am doing a PhD in Zoology and never even heard of them square things. My university must have been a Community College in disguise
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Old 24th February 2009, 06:30 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by technoextreme View Post
Is it really that big of a skill? The only real thing I've ever needed to have teaching people is patience. The other problem is knowing what the hell you are talking about. If you fail at that you are screwed and this is coming from someone whose has had complete mastery over subjects to being one theory short of actually explaining a subject. As for high school classes I could probably teach physics, eventually chemistry (Given the weird and freakishly random direction my career just took), almost every single type of high school math, and maybe biology.

Ehhh gods. Community college for my brother has been an abject disaster. My mother called me up asking about a simple biology question that typically would involve being taught a Punnett square. The stupid teacher did not go over anything involving Punnett squares.
If you think teaching is so easy, give it a shot. Most places have programs for getting certified. After you have taught a required class to average level high school students or middle school students, come back and post something right here. Have your students post something too. My bet is that it would be significantly different.

A good teacher inspires students. See if you can.

Those that can, do...
thost that can do better teach...
those that can't do either one, criticize.

glenn
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Old 24th February 2009, 06:47 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Hindmost View Post

A good teacher inspires students. See if you can.
How is that the hard part?
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Old 24th February 2009, 07:15 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by technoextreme View Post
How is that the hard part?

Anyone with an education can stand in front of students and regurgitate their brain. Try getting in front of a high school class or a middle school class and see how many are inspired. You will get to know your students fairly well...

Give is a shot--see if you can survive--most don't.

glenn
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Old 24th February 2009, 08:28 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Hindmost View Post
Anyone with an education can stand in front of students and regurgitate their brain.
Well you thats where you and I differ. A good teacher doesn't regurgitate their brain. The most painful lesson of my life.
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Old 25th February 2009, 11:39 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by technoextreme View Post
Is it really that big of a skill? The only real thing I've ever needed to have teaching people is patience. The other problem is knowing what the hell you are talking about.
Um wow, you are so completely wrong about this. I suggest you give up.
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Old 25th February 2009, 04:47 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by technoextreme View Post
Well you thats where you and I differ. A good teacher doesn't regurgitate their brain. The most painful lesson of my life.
Need to go back and read what I wrote. I never implied a good teacher just regurgitated their brain...I was being mildly sarcastic And it certainly won't inspire.

glenn
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Old 1st March 2009, 07:46 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Morrigan View Post
Um wow, you are so completely wrong about this. I suggest you give up.
Your mastery of the English language has persuaded me so much. I surrender.
Quote:
And it certainly won't inspire.
Ahhh mystical magical inspiration. Why is it that teachers have a hard time with this?
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Old 2nd March 2009, 01:22 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by technoextreme View Post
Your mastery of the English language has persuaded me so much. I surrender.

Ahhh mystical magical inspiration. Why is it that teachers have a hard time with this?
Never mind

glenn
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Old 2nd March 2009, 01:31 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by technoextreme View Post
Ahhh mystical magical inspiration. Why is it that teachers have a hard time with this?
Because it's hard making people want to do something.

It's especially hard making people want to do something that's difficult and not especially fun. Did you ever play an instrument in school? I, personally, found that practicing was both dull and difficult, and there were usually other things that would have been more fun, like playing outside, watching TV, or sitting and reading a book. For the most part, I practiced because my parents yelled at me if I didn't.

On the other hand, I enjoyed -- and still enjoy -- just "messing around" on my instrument; playing songs that I liked to play instead of songs that had been assigned by the teacher to master.

Similarly, I always loved to read -- certain types of books, that is. I loved adventure fiction, fantasy, space opera, detective fiction, and a lot of non-fiction as well (although I always hated biography). But I also hated most of the stuff I was assigned in high school. I felt -- and still feel -- that most of the 19th century should be taken out and shot. Dickens is bad enough; I'll actually give him credit for A Christmas Carol, but Oliver Twist is just tedious. And the entire "gothic-fiction" genre (Turn of the Screw) made Oliver seem positively exciting.

So I was the sort of student who would put down The Turn of the Screw to read Lives of a Cell. That delighted my biology teacher and ticked the hell out of my English lit teacher, for obvious reasons.

What could the English teacher have done to make me actually want to put down Lives instead? That is inspiration, and that's something that typically only a very good teacher can do, especially for a class of forty.

ETA: And, more specifically -- what could you have done? Go ahead, persuade the fifteen-year old me that what you want me to do is more important than what I want to do, enough that I'll actually go home and work on it.

Last edited by drkitten; 2nd March 2009 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 3rd March 2009, 05:01 PM   #40
Cosmic Roy
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Originally Posted by Holler Hoojer View Post
That's easy. Find a carpet-walled cubicle to live in and then attend meetings.
Done! (Well, almost - I'm not important enough to warrant a cubicle, but I do have a 30cm carpeted partition between me and my colleague, so I guess I'm on the right track.)
Thanks for the life advice, Holler Hoojer.
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