Whoever it was that said, “Those who can -do, and those that can’t -teach,” definitely wasn’t a teacher. Many people believe they are experts on education because they once went to school themselves. Such experts need to consider whether they are qualified to conduct surgery because they have been to the hospital. The author of our quote seems to be suggesting that those who lack practical skills are left with instructing in “mere theory.” Let’s unpick it a bit. Those who can (paint, farm, cook, conduct physics experiments) – do (such things). Those who can’t paint, farm, cook, etc. – “only”teach how to do them. Is that true?
The Bible (and especially the parables of Jesus) is (are) full of people “doing” practical things. We have sowers sowing, workers in vineyards, servants entrusted with talents, etc.. These are the skills of life. But is the theory behind such acts inferior to the act itself? And, is the purveying of that theory “the easy option,” that “anyone can do?”
Let’s address these in a somewhat random order. “An easy option:” Many modern parents have moments of despair when dealing with their own (1, 2, 3 . . .) children. Face it parenting is hard. Now, put yourself in front of 30 fifteen-year-olds at once. There are hormones, varying interests, and no interest at all, at play at the same time. This is not for the faint of heart.
“Anyone can do it:” Maybe this is true, but it presupposes that they have the will and drive, to do so; and the essential understandings to pass on in the first place. Ideally whatever is being taught has to be understood at least in principle. Better still by someone who has done it (lived it) themselves.
It is this final point that makes teaching so important and “practical.” The theory is more than half of the battle. The skills are (yes) essential, but there is more to it than that. These life skills don’t exist in a vacuum. They have context. Jesus knew that and commented on it, He used the practical examples of everyday life to illustrate deeper meanings and values. It was beyond “doing,” it was “being” that He wanted people to master.
Just remember, the Lord God only had one son – and He was a teacher!