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Doctor vs Mechanic – A fleeting job description for an educator.

Updated: Jun 3, 2023

A doctor arrives at a garage with his broken-down car. The mechanic looks at the doctor’s shiny stethoscope hanging around his neck with a hint of disdain. He opens the bonnet and peaks inside whilst turning a few screws here and there. He finds a problem with the pistons and quickly starts to dismantle the engine. After a couple of hours, he sighs in relief. He looks at the Doctor with a certain smugness and asks him, ‘What’s so special about what you do?’ ‘You fix people, I fix cars, same thing, and yet you get paid ten times more than I do.’

The doctor paused to contemplate on the mechanic’s remarks. Then with a faint smile, he replies, ‘you see my friend; the difference is that you fix cars when the engine is not running. I fix people while the engine is still running.’

So symbolically speaking, if a doctor can fix engines whilst they are running then an educator shapes, redesigns, and reforms them all at the same time. An educator can truly set the course for the engine. An educator can inspire and give meaning and purpose to an individual’s life. If you have seen the movie “Patch Adams” you might recall Robin Williams arguing in court that a doctor’s job is not to increase the quantity of their patient’s lives, rather increase the quality of their remaining life!

What I really want to emphasize is that a doctor who can increase the quality of a patient’s life (and I do not mean by using medical cannabis) is truly an educator.

Because the quality of anyone’s life is directly proportionate to their comprehension of contentment in life. Want more, suffer more; want less, suffer less. You can teach someone what one plus one is, but good education means to get them to understand the beauty in keeping one for themselves and sharing one with someone else. It is to educate one to live for others. Materialistic values that drive our society today are marketed through the media all the time. Individuals who pursue material wealth have personal striving for power (desires to impress, control, and manipulate others). They thus tend to forego investment in intrinsic values like family, friends, contribution to the community, and self-actualization, which are believed to be drivers of life satisfaction or well-being (Kasser & Ahuvia, 2002, Sheldon & Krieger, 2014).

Whilst the optimal age for comprehension of morality might be adolescence, children as young as 2-year olds display a rudimentary understanding of morality. The delivery of teaching of such intrinsic values needs to happen that early. It may be the deciding factor in that child’s life when it comes to understanding deeper morality at an older age. Sowing these seeds of morality will impact the quality of their lives as they grow older.

This (amongst all the other things) is an educator’s job.



Duh, H., 2015. Antecedents And Consequences Of Materialism: An Integrated Theoretical Framework. [online] Available at:> [Accessed 29 December 2020].

Kasser, T. & Ahuvia, A. C. (2002). Materialism values and well-being in business students. European Journal of Social Psychology, 33(1), 137-146.

Sheldon, K. M. & Lawrence Krieger, S. (2014

). Service job lawyers are happier than money job lawyers, despite their lower income. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9(3), 219-226

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