Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make”

So I’m doing a leisurely cleanup of my laptop, tossing files, and I come across “The Impotence of Proofreading” by Taylor Mali. Pretty hysterical poem. I notice there’s a url and go find the site and …wow…read about “What Teachers Make” and the poem’s permutations in cyberspace and popular culture. And Mali’s quest, begun in 2000, to recruit 1,000 teachers by 2006. I like reading the blurbs by the people (total of 155 as of 16 Oct. 2006) who have been convinced to take up teaching as a profession. By Mali’s count, he’s helped to persuade almost 25 people a year for the past 6 years to take up teaching — all through poetry. Now if that ain’t the power of the spoken word, I don’t know what is.

In “What Teachers Make,” Mali quotes the old saw: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” I can’t remember if the following is my revision, or a lifted revision, or a cobbled-together revision of lifted and original words: “Those who can, teach; those who can’t, try harder.”


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