Thoughts on a proverb and a definition

Thoughts on a proverb and a definition

Recently, I came across this proverb. Its origin is variously attributed to Jewish, Hungarian and Swedish roots. Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach; those who cannot teach, teach teachers.

The proverb communicates much scepticism, cynicism, even hostility about learning and education. If the proverb is by and large true, then most of our educational institutions and students in them are in big trouble. I think the opposite is likely true. Most teachers teach because what they can do is worth sharing with others. Those who teach teachers share their wisdom because they have a passion for learning and education.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.


The above definition of insanity is attributed to Albert Einstein. I realise that in the world of science the ability to repeat an experiment over and over again and come up with the same results is the method employed to verify and legitimise factual evidence of the experiment. However, in the world of music and religion, (this may also prove true in the world of economics too) the opposite has been true. Listening to some of the old master composers and their most famous compositions do, in fact, produce different results. I know they do for me anyways—take for example, J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, the first time I listened to it, didn’t impress me all that much. However, the more I listened, the deeper my appreciation grew on me for this majestic organ work. The same is true with regards to reading and study of the Bible. One can read and study a familiar or even unfamiliar pericope, and each time, one’s appreciation grows, as something new and different comes out of one’s reading and study. In both cases the composition and pericope are the same, however different results come out of them on different occasions. Thus most musicians and people of faith are quite sane in expecting different results from doing the same thing over and over again. 



About dimlamp
I am, among other things, a sojourner, a sinner-saint, a baptized, life-long learner and follower of Jesus, and Lutheran pastor. Dim Lamp: gwh photos:

2 Responses to Thoughts on a proverb and a definition

  1. Gene says:

    Isn’t there also a quote about the importance of repetition in education?

  2. Dim Lamp says:

    Yes, indeed Gene. Here’s a couple I’ve come across:

    Only one thing registers on the subconscious mind: repetitive application – practice. What you practice is what you manifest. -Fay Weldon

    Repeticio est mater studiorum. Repetition is the mother of all learning. -Thomas Acquinas

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