I actually did say this to one of my students the other day, and it got such a great response (a good laugh) I've repeated it throughout the week. Believe me, there has been reason to repeat it. I have witnessed serious looks of concentration on the faces of my students. You see, I've been pushing the chord thing and I'm sure many of my students will be convinced that these words were meant especially for them.
But I am convinced that understanding a little chord theory and recognizing chord patterns (root position and inversions) on the instrument is essential to mastery of the instrument. Everything from learning and memorizing a basic tune, to filling out and arranging said tune, to playing effective backup benefits - nay, depends on this knowledge.
So go ahead, stretch your brain ... even when it hurts!