This Point of View was submitted by Shaker Junior High School principal Dr. Russell Moore of the North Colonie Central School District. Dr. Moore is currently in his 27th year as a principal. You can read more from him at his blog “Moore Perspective.”
I was just enrolled in my MEd. program at St. Lawrence and was sitting in my first class. This program would not only result in a Master’s degree in Educational Administration, it would also serve as the basis for my NYS certification as a building and/or district administrator. And like teaching, you need the certification to get an administrative job! The professor seemed to be a really nice guy, but like most college professors he had no practical experience as a building principal. I cannot be positive of that fact, but I’m pretty sure it’s accurate.
I don’t remember specifically what we were talking about but Dr. Williams (the name has been changed to protect the guilty) uttered the age old cliché in response to a colleague’s comments. He stated, “Well you know what they say. Those who can do, those who can’t teach.” And, of course, he snickered about it.
Well, me being me, I said, “You should finish the saying.”
He looked at me quizzically and asked what I was referring to. So, I said, “The full saying is those who can do, those who can’t teach, and those who can’t teach, teach teachers.”
I’m not really sure what he thought, the rest of the class loved it, and everybody had greater insight into who I was.
Needless to say I find the quote insulting and as far from the truth as most such sayings are.
I’ve worked with a multitude of professional educators over the course of 38 years in my career. For a good number of them education was a second career; they had started down a different career path and found that it wasn’t really what they wanted to do. The majority of educators I have known and interacted with knew from the beginning that they wanted to teach. They have committed themselves to educating children, a conscious decision on their part based on their thoughts, beliefs, dedication to learning, desire to influence children’s development, or any of a wide range of reasons. I can honestly say, believe it or not, I have not met any educator who went into education for the summers off. I realize that’s a common belief of the non-education populace, but it has not been my experience at all.
And, I have worked with many educators who could have pursued whatever career path was desired and done well. They had the abilities and personal characteristics that would have served them well in any line of work. Many easily could have gone on to own their own businesses, or rise to lofty positions in big industries, or developed products that became everyday items. The talents I have seen in people are as wide spread and as impressive as those you would observe in any field, any career path, any business.
And those people chose to teach. They didn’t move to education when the college science or math courses got too difficult. They didn’t suddenly realize that pursuing a career in business would be a long road, and ultimately one they didn’t want to spend time following. They didn’t pass on law or medical careers because there are no jobs in those fields. They wanted to teach.
It doesn’t matter what school you consider, the teaching staff is made up of very talented individuals, people who are committed to applying their thinking, creating, doing to educating kids. Indeed, those who can, teach.
And that’s my perspective.