Thursday, April 02, 2009

Those who can't do

At some point in time those in higher education, particularly at the collegiate level, have probably heard the saying, "Those who can't do, teach." I am not a professor, although my work involves instructing students, which perhaps makes me even more representative of the maxim's accepted wisdom.

The thinking goes that if you're not making a living practicing the skills you're imparting to others, then you're probably not good enough to cut it in that field as a professional. While I'm sure many of us can think of individuals for whom this is true, I argue that it is fallacious in most cases, not to mention insulting.

I've felt and feel such judgment even if it isn't always verbalized. Sometimes it is the students; sometimes it's my own doubt. While I know this pithily expressed but half-cocked theory is just something to brush off, a dismissal of my work is difficult to take lightly.

Granted, my job is unique in that I "do" what I am teaching, but the naysayer's response would be that I'm not performing in the competitive marketplace but within the safe environs of education.

This term I've taken it upon myself to do one of the same field-related tasks that we ask our students to fulfill. I'm doing it not because I want to prove myself but because we lack sufficient volunteers to fill all the roles. It's unfortunate that we can't always get enough students to do what they're paying a lot of money to do, but I'm hoping to make the best of it.

I want to demonstrate that my co-workers and I are not requesting too much of them despite some protestations. I want to learn if there might be advice I can give by going through the process. OK, fine, I suppose if I'm being honest, I want to show them that I know what I'm doing.

Today I threw myself into the work. I picked up a tip or two that hadn't occurred to me before. I accomplished quite a bit. I am setting an example within the grasp of the dedicated students. More than anything, though, my competitive spirit reveled in the knowledge that I'm going to prove that I'm not in my job because I'm a failure.

I realize that this last part isn't for them so much as it is for me. I feel like a fraud from time to time, and while deep down I probably know such sentiments are false, it doesn't hurt to be able to disprove them occasionally.

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At 7:26 AM, Anonymous LittleWit said...

May you excel in your tasks this term. And we all know the expression is really "those who can't do, coach." ;)


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