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

Martin Instructor Burnaby, British Columbia Posted   Latest   Edited  

Taking a step away from busting technical myths (mainly because some of the good ones have already been taken), I have chosen a non-technical myth for discussion. "Those who can't do, teach."

This myth is very popular in just about every field and often is most frequently expressed by automotive technicians. For those of us who are trained as technicians and as instructors, fully prepared and do our best in class every day, this old myth is considered to be far from the truth.

However, we must look deeper for the answers.....Opinions are like ________. Well, I'm sure you can fill in the blank and the rest of that line for yourselves!

As a long time technician with a well-rounded skill set and some specialized skills, I transitioned into instruction full-time, circa 2002. I soon discovered that there were areas of instruction where I needed to hone my skills to provide the best possible learning experience, but the old "Those who can't do, teach" myth still rings in my ears and irks me. It is my opinion that it unfairly and without proof, paints with "broad brush strokes" a poor perception about all who leave their field to teach.

One area where I lacked hands-on skills is wheel alignment. Since we had one technician at the dealership performing that role and the fact that the actual work didn't particularly interest me, my hands-on skills were minimal beyond basic levels of competency. I am sure that I am not alone in knowing where my strengths and weaknesses were when entering instruction. However, I did not venture to instruct in this area until I was up to speed.

Certainly, a few do make it into the ranks of instruction or teaching without having the requisite knowledge and skills, but from my perspective those who are technically astute and can adapt quickly and learn how to teach others, generally do a good job.

I believe that this myth is quickly dispelled by those of us who have trodden this path, while those who are critical and perceive the myth to be true, might have their views altered if they were to spend some time in the role of an instructor or teacher.

As a result of moving into instruction, I can state with fact that I have become a better technician in some areas where I once only considered myself just competent. One observation from working with others entering the field of instruction in a general program, is that those technicians with narrowly-defined skill sets often experience more challenges to develop their skills in specialties that they did not practice as technicians.

So, is the myth "Those who can't do, teach", fact, fiction or really somewhere in between? Come on in for a discussion about "swimming in the deep end." Those who can't swim are welcome.

+7
Jaxon Technical Support Specialist
Stafford Heights, Australia
Jaxon
 

Martin, I hear you. In my country I have heard the phrase "If you don't know; learn. If you do know; teach." It has struck me that there is something missing, here. What resonates for me is: If you don't know; learn. If you do know; practice. If you have mastered; teach. Given how far and few "masters" are in this industry, it means that then, I must learn from those whom are

0 Ð Bounty Awarded
James Technician
Plant City, Florida
James
   

Hello Martin. I've been in many discussions with you on I-ATN and have the utmost respect for you and your knowledge and have no doubt that you could return to a dealership and diagnose failures with no problems. This does not apply industry-wide, however. I feel most trainers have a back-round as service techs before entering the training aspect and do a good job. The new cars and technology

+3 Ð Bounty Awarded
Martin Instructor
Burnaby, British Columbia
Martin
 

Hi James. Thanks, I'd be lying or fooling myself, if I thought that I could ever perform as efficiently as I once did back in my dealership days. Good old rose-tinted glasses paint a different perspective of what once was and what currently is. Fortunately, my continual contact keeps me abreast of many of the changes, even though I may not perform the physical work under duress. It would take me

0 Ð Bounty Awarded
Jim Curriculum Developer
Frederick, Maryland
Jim
 

Martin, I came to teaching through a non-automotive journey. I learned it in a series of hobbies. Everything I am about to type is made from my own observations and current core structure. Teaching can be a large portion of mastery. Mastery does not identify a skilled teacher. High skill does not indicate mastery. Much of what is viewed as mastery is actually pattern recognition/response

+1 Ð Bounty Awarded
Randy Analyst
Denver, Colorado
Randy
 

Jim, I couldn’t agree more. Martin‘s quote could be flipped, “Those who can do, can teach” and that is another myth. In addition, some think because learning took place, a teacher was present.

+1 Ð Bounty Awarded
Martin Instructor
Burnaby, British Columbia
Martin
 

Excellent point Randy. We've seen "prima donna" top guns who were the ultimate and revered subject matter experts, but who unfortunately were poor at facilitating learning.

0 Ð Bounty Awarded
Martin Instructor
Burnaby, British Columbia
Martin
 

Hi Jim. I agree completely. Just because one has skills Mastery and subject matter expertise, it does not necessarily make on a good teacher or instructor. However, it can be very challenging for an instructor to stand before a class as an "imposter" lacking a reasonable level of expertise. Students also do not need to know everything that a highly skilled subject matter expert knows. The art

+1 Ð Bounty Awarded
Chris Educator
Raleigh, North Carolina
Chris
 

Me thinks thoust hath grasped the tail 🧠

0 Ð Bounty Awarded
Martin Instructor
Burnaby, British Columbia
Martin
 

You bet Chris. Without a reasonable level of subject matter expertise, an "imposter" can quickly be recognized when training professional technicians at the top of their game. It is a "Mythconception" to falsely believe that this type of audience will readily accept mediocrity through a lack of knowledge, skills and/or the inability to engage the learners. There are so many ways that it can

+1 Ð Bounty Awarded
Pete Mechanic
Newark, Delaware
Pete
 

Hey Martin, This is a good one. Like technicians, trainers come in all shapes, sizes, colors and ability levels. I think we all know a trainer who is decent in the classroom but all thumbs in the bays, that's probbaly where this myth originated. I've seen quite a few examples where a tech with 3-4 years experience (maybe less) becomes the instructor at a local high school after they failed

+1 Ð Bounty Awarded
Martin Instructor
Burnaby, British Columbia
Martin
 

Isn't that the truth Pete?! As you said, there are so many variables and ways that words can be organized, that create opposing myths!

0 Ð Bounty Awarded
Alan Educator
Calgary, Alberta
Alan
 

Hi Martin Long Time! ... (actually I meant I'm listening to that great old Boston tune ;) )But I for one can attest and confess to this old adage! IT'S TRUE!!My hands, eyes, and back just don't work like they used to...(brain enthusiasm still A-OK though so...)Alan

0 Ð Bounty Awarded
Martin Instructor
Burnaby, British Columbia
Martin
 

Hi Alan! Sorry, I didn't see your reply until now. Yes, it's been a while since our paths last crossed! I hope that all is well with you in "retirement" in warmer climates. Absolutely, my body doesn't take too kindly to some of the abuse I've subjected it to over the years. I've got a worn out disc that makes my back clunk like a worn out CV joint when I lay on my right side. Its okay when

0 Ð Bounty Awarded