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Ode to a Talented Teacher

There’s a famous, rather snotty quotation on education by well-regarded playwright, novelist, critic, and cultural gadfly, George Bernard Shaw:  “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches”. The quote first appeared in his play Man and Superman, 1903. In the intervening century its gone viral; a kind of rallying cry for anti-educators.

I personally find his sarcasm vaguely amusing, though from my lengthy experience in education, (my first teaching gig was in 1969), that quote is not accurate. It’s one of those “alternative facts” that verge on absurdity now-a-days. To tell the truth that quote has always annoyed me more than amused me.

It’s time set the record straight: teachers CAN DO and simultaneously CAN TEACH.

So I’ve decided to do a profile of a teacher at ILBC Taunggyi that shows what a pile of nonsense Shaw’s view on teaching is.

The 31 year old music teacher Bar Hso Gay Htoo (aka: Pho Kwar) is a multi-talented educator. He is an accomplished musician who plays four instruments elegantly; the keyboards, the violin, the guitar and the recorder, He is additionally a respected vocalist and songwriter within the Myanmar music community; other musicians look up to him.

Pho Kwar has cut an album of 10 songs of his own titled “Music Is My Life”; doing the vocals and accompanying himself instrumentally on guitar and keyboards. His nom de plume on the album is Aul Nay Thain.

At ILBC he is Head of the Music Department, vocalist and instrumentalist for the morning assemblies and organizer for the elaborate Annual Talent Show, (where he is also one of the three judges).

Pho Kwar is many times the first teacher to check in at school in the mornings; usually a half hour to forty minutes before other staff members so he can spend extra time assisting ten or so students develop their music proficiency on violin, keyboards, guitar and recorder. When passing by his ad hoc instrumental classes in the morning I’ve noticed significant improvement in his budding musicians’ technical skills.

Pho Kwar is a warm-hearted accessible teacher who is unanimously liked by the students. He goes the extra mile to assist the students in developing their creative expression and their technical expertise. Empathy is his middle name.

Obviously George Bernard Shaw never encountered a talented educator like Pho Kwar; for if he had, he would never have spouted off so negatively about teachers’ intrinsic abilities.

One could safely observe that ILBC admin has a sharp eye for talented teachers.

Credit to Andrew