There is this meme that has been going around the internet about what a lot of purebred industry practitioners say:




The full quotation is:

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.


In the essence of fairness, I don’t even want to know who said this. I might meet him someday and judge him as small-minded based on this ignorant statement alone when this could have been an isolated case of temporary insanity. But here are the things that many purebred industry practitioners do not know about the academe. For a university teacher to gain rank, distinction or tenure:

  1. You MUST have a master’s degree. It’s the minimum educational attainment you need to have.
  2. You are actually REQUIRED to publish.
  3. In the creative field, you are REQUIRED to create art and produce a substantial body of work.
  4. In the sciences, you are REQUIRED to come up with new findings, research material etc.
  5. You are urged to join competitions and win awards, preferably on a national and international level.
  6. Collect citations and mentions.
  7. Have speaking engagements outside of your institution.
  8. Participate — take note, be one of the presenters and not just part of the audience — in conferences.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. In one of the institutions where I teach part-time, you can only be promoted once a year and only if you have done these. It is not enough to have just gotten a PhD. It is important that this PhD is being put to good use. If you are a full-time faculty with an administrative job, say a dean or a chairperson, you have to do these things on ON TOP of managing your institution’s projects and doing your administrative duties. With this kind of difficulty that academics face, is it any wonder why I have chosen to remain a hybrid — half in the industry and half in the academe? I may be a dork but I know my limits and I have no death wish. I can adjust my part-time teaching load to keep a full-time job but industry immersion will always be a non-negotiable. I cannot be either one or the other. I have to be both, and so I adjust accordingly.

It is difficult for many purebred industry practitioners to wrap their heads around the idea of anyone pursuing many personal projects at a time because many industries do not reward you for personal projects. This is the biggest difference between the industry and the academe. In the academe, the more personal projects you pursue and succeed in, the more you are rewarded by your institution. In fact, you need to chase after all those certificates, trophies and newspaper articles written about you because you have to submit them at the end of the academic year for your rank evaluation.

But perhaps I can explain it in a simpler, less grandiose manner — and this is why I urge a lot of teachers to continuously pursue higher education and build their portfolios. (Not necessarily chase both at the same time!) We help students in their learning and development. The older they get, the more they and their parents will question our qualifications as mentors. What we teach, we should be practicing and what we practice, we should be teaching. If they see that we are continuously producing work and honing our crafts, the worst that can happen is that they’d criticize the quality of our work (IF they can do something better).

That wouldn’t even be bad either. I will be going here with Elbert Hubbard’s philosophy:

To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.

So whoever it is that uttered that rubbish about “those who can’t, teach”, he probably has not tried teaching or teaching and working at the same time, or tried both but failed miserably. Whoever you are, please do us a favor and don’t knock it for the rest of us who actually CAN DO AND TEACH.

Related Resources:

Do Those Who Teach Really Teach Because They Can’t Do?

For 13 Years, Welin Kusuma Pursues 18 Academic and Professional Degrees — And contrary to ignorant 9gag opinions, he actually has a job.

Learn something with What Those Who Teach Can Do

TED Talks: Taylor Mali: What Teachers Make