Blog Archive

Monday, March 13, 2006

Those Who Can Do, Those Who Can't Teach

How about that quote? Is it true?

If you are a student, wouldn't it be important to you that your teacher have practical/professional experience doing what h/she is teaching?

While I was an acting and playwrighting student at Ensemble Studio Theater in New York City for two years, those who taught acting classes were professional actors who supplemented their income teaching. And they were good teachers. Teaching is a calling, no question about it. It is a gift. These actors were wonderful teaching artists. The same was true in working with several playwrights of the New York and national theater scene who were also good teachers.

I certainly have seen people teach a subject in a very academic way that they have no real experience in. That practice isn't limited to high school; community colleges and some other schools sport instructors in playwrighting or acting when the teacher in question has not done any real work in either subject.

Why complain about all this now?

Because I wanted to make a blog entry, that's why.


Cassie said...

Grrr...I care. I found out that my son (who's at a really expensive school) is practically self teaching himself CAD. The professor never teaches, never shows up. His lectures are all on computer and they are all related to the *outdated* version of CAD the school uses. So my son has been going to the teacher's assistant for tutoring. So guess who is calling the head of that department? :P

John P said...

Well, Woody Allen strengthened that quote by adding, "and those who can't teach, teach gym."

Another favorite quote from him that I like is, "80% of life is just showing up." That's a really great one with a lot of merit to it. I mean, you can dream of performing on Broadway, but you do have to show up for auditions. Or showing up to an agent with your book or script. Actually doing it (whatever "it" is) is probably half the battle, "showing up" takes you to 80% of the battle. Then, from there, it's probably a matter of quality --- and let's not forget Woody's underlying philosophy about LUCK. I think he believes that luck plays an incredibly important role in life. And you improve your luck by "showing up" at more places, and you know, just being there...

And you know, the joke about "teaching gym" was always funny to me because it was preceded by the idea that if you can't teach, you "teach" gym.

His humor really makes me laugh.

Anonymous said...

There are some really brilliant people out there who can paint, act, write, research supernovas, do computer programming, etc. It doesn't necessarily mean they have the gift of imparting that knowledge to their students. Plenty of brilliant people are lousy instructors.

However, it's not mutually exclusive either. I was fortunate enough to have wonderful instructors who may not have been able to create original work of their own, but yet who could teach me.