Those that can, do; those that can’t, teach – Man and Superman; GB Shaw.
After completing my teaching qualification I wrote a blog condemning the above quote that suggests people only become teachers if they cannot do anything ‘better’.
This is a ridiculous notion when there are other more worthy occupations to be rude about such as restaurant critics (wannabe cooks), the mish-mash of malcontents who flail around for a critical voice on Trip Advisor and call centre operatives in cold-call mode. The genuine non-DOERS are those who behave as if they are doing something useful but really aren’t, they are the people who belong on Golgafrincham Ark Fleet Ship B.*
Teachers are absolutely not in this category. Their role is fundamental to human progress; teaching is doing because learning is the first step to everything. Anyhow, pedagogy doesn’t need my advocacy and has offered many adequate replies to the Shavian suggestion.
However, another perspective on Shaw’s words has come to the fore during this, the age of Covid and it is that there are many doers but they are badly undervalued.
Our society has long functioned with a twisted logic. We function in an economic paradigm whereby money, which began after all, as an alternative to exchangeable commodities has become god. It is odd that people who are able to earn money while they sleep are better off than those who get paid by time or output. This is not to say that wealthy people are necessarily bad but, and the people whom the government list as KEY, do not earn as much as those who can get the money system to work for them.
Coronavirus has shone a light on the importance of some of these hitherto hidden people and has challenged the prevailing economic model. Last night I saw a postal worker delivering mail after 7pm. I wished him a good evening and in the ensuing chat he told me he was taking all the overtime ‘he could get’ as it was financially beneficial. Noble as this might seem, is it right that this person was working sixteen hours each day while other non-key people don’t need to?
In the UK Government’s official Key Worker list (reproduced below) it is notable how often the word ‘workers’ comes up e.g. Food production workers…Transport workers …Utilities workers…bank workers. These are people that DO and we really ought to bookmark this for the Post Coronavirus Social Re-balancing plan.
When the ‘Key’ list was released some two months ago I scoffed at the inclusion of journalists. In fact, I would probably have included them in the Trip Advisor reject bracket, yet on reflection, my sneering was wrong. I feel that media often embellishes and whips up public fervour in order to sell their wares and some commercial TV companies unashamedly do this to protect their advertising income. However, having information and news delivered by newspapers and broadcasters that are regulated and scrutinised is better than what remains the wild west of data and (mis)-information; the internet. After all this time, the web is still the favela style corrugated roofed shelter for fake news, stalkers and hackers.
I anticipate a sense of disappointment on behalf of our new, albeit temporary, heroes because I doubt not think their rights and wages will improve. They deserve better but the world is not a generous place and the forecasted economic turmoil will, as usual, further distance the have nots from the haves. Plus ca change…
For an excellent perspective by a real journalist do read Sarah O’Connor. Weirdly, she’s not writing for Marxism Today or even the Guardian, but a literal bastion of capitalism; The Financial Times.
She writes so well that I wanted to use her words to conclude this piece but the FT’s T&C’s are fearsome and as a lecturer and examiner I really cannot affored to be sued for plagiarism. Equally, how could I ever penalise students for cutting and pasting if I’ve been caught doing it myself?
The UK Government’s list of key workers
Frontline health and social care staff including the distributors of medicines and vital equipment
Teaching staff, nursery staff and social workers
People working in vital public services such as justice system, death registry workers, journalists in public service broadcasting
Government workers in local or national administrations in occupations needed to deliver the Covid-19 response and pay benefits
Food production and processing workers including sales and delivery staff
Transport workers operating services not shut down during the Covid-19 response
Utilities workers including all power, water, sewerage, chemicals
Postal workers, key telecommunications staff, bank workers
– THE END –
Lichtenstein style picture with Buffet quote https://www.aliexpress.com/i/4000297349719.html
medical workers photo credit:https://www.bangkokpost.com/world/1900220/struggle-fear-and-heartbreak-for-medical-staff-on-virus-frontline