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Teacher Man: A Memoir [Paperback]

Frank McCourt
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 19 2006
Here at last in paperback is Frank McCourt's critically acclaimed and bestselling book about how his thirty-year teaching career shaped his second act as a writer. Teacher Man is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and heartbreaking honesty, McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises of teaching in public high schools. Teacher Man shows McCourt developing his unparalleled ability to tell a great story as, five days a week, five periods per day, he works to gain the attention and respect of unruly, hormonally charged or indifferent adolescents.

For McCourt, storytelling itself is the source of salvation, and in Teacher Man the journey to redemption--and literary fame--is an exhilarating adventure.

Frequently Bought Together

Teacher Man: A Memoir + Tis: A Memoir + Angela's Ashes: A Memoir
Price For All Three: CDN$ 41.86

  • Tis: A Memoir CDN$ 13.71
  • Angela's Ashes: A Memoir CDN$ 14.44

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This final memoir in the trilogy that started with Angela's Ashes and continued in 'Tis focuses almost exclusively on McCourt's 30-year teaching career in New York City's public high schools, which began at McKee Vocational and Technical in 1958. His first day in class, a fight broke out and a sandwich was hurled in anger. McCourt immediately picked it up and ate it. On the second day of class, McCourt's retort about the Irish and their sheep brought the wrath of the principal down on him. All McCourt wanted to do was teach, which wasn't easy in the jumbled bureaucracy of the New York City school system. Pretty soon he realized the system wasn't run by teachers but by sterile functionaries. "I was uncomfortable with the bureaucrats, the higher-ups, who had escaped classrooms only to turn and bother the occupants of those classrooms, teachers and students. I never wanted to fill out their forms, follow their guidelines, administer their examinations, tolerate their snooping, adjust myself to their programs and courses of study." As McCourt matured in his job, he found ingenious ways to motivate the kids: have them write "excuse notes" from Adam and Eve to God; use parts of a pen to define parts of a sentence; use cookbook recipes to get the students to think creatively. A particularly warming and enlightening lesson concerns a class of black girls at Seward Park High School who felt slighted when they were not invited to see a performance of Hamlet, and how they taught McCourt never to have diminished expectations about any of his students. McCourt throws down the gauntlet on education, asserting that teaching is more than achieving high test scores. It's about educating, about forming intellects, about getting people to think. McCourt's many fans will of course love this book, but it also should be mandatory reading for every teacher in America. And it wouldn't hurt some politicians to read it, too. (Nov. 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In another easily embraceable memoir by the best-selling (and Pulitzer Prize-winning) author of Angela's Ashes (1996) and 'Tis (1999), McCourt now concentrates on his career as a teacher for many years in the New York City public school system, where he worked in four different high schools. His trademark charm, wit, and unself-conscious self-effacement ensure that the flashbacks of his dreadful days growing up in extreme deprivation in Ireland don't sink the narrative in self-pity. Remembrances of his struggling days in college in New York ("dozing years") provide informative foundation for the real point of the book: relating his development into the kind of teacher he became--namely, one who shares his life stories not only to establish bridges of experience with his students but also to get them to open up. His new book is hardly a teaching manual; however, what it is on one level is a tough but poignant and certainly eloquent defense of the sacrifices and honorableness of those in the teaching profession ("Teaching is the downtown maid of professions. Teachers are told to use the service door or go round the back") and a lesson itself in taking yourself seriously--but not too. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Product description is misleading Sept. 19 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I ordered this book, thinking I would be able to settle down with a cup of tea and have a good, solid read from one of my favorite authors. When I received it, it contained only 68 pages and I thought "That's weird!?" On further exploration of the book, I realized it was RE-TOLD and edited by some people quite apart from Frank McCourt. The editing was done for Level 4 students of English as a Foreign Language. The product description mentioned none of this. In fact, the description was written as if THIS was the actual book Frank McCourt had written, not some "Coles Notes" version of the same. Thankfully, I am a teacher of such students, so I suppose I can pawn this "leaflet" off on them because there are exercises relating to the text in the back of the book. But needless to say, I was very diappointed and my cup of tea is stone cold.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Life Nov. 21 2006
Format:Paperback
Teacher Man is one of the best books I have read. No teacher should be without the insights that McCourt offers. This non-fiction work weaves his tragic childhood into his career as a high school and college English teacher. The best stories are the true ones, and McCourt's is the best I have read in a long time. For other real live stories I suggest the book "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" which I have reviewed in the past.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Almost As Good As 'Angela's Ashes' Sept. 24 2010
By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
McCourties of the world rejoice! You have nothing to lose but your tears of woe anticipating when he'd return with his next book; the foremost memoirist of our time is back. Frank McCourt's "Teacher Man" is a spellbinding lyrical ode to the craft of teaching. It is a rollicking, delightful trek across nearly thirty years in New York City public school classrooms that will surely please his devout legion of fans, and perhaps win some new admirers too. Truly, without question, it is a splendid concluding volume in his trilogy of memoirs that began in spectacular fashion with "Angela's Ashes". Indeed, we find much of the same plain, yet rather poetic, prose and rich dark humor that defines his first book, along with his undiminished, seemingly timeless, skill as a mesmerizing raconteur. Is McCourt truly now one of the great writers of our time if he isn't already, with the publication of "Teacher Man"? I will say only that he was a marvellous teacher (I still feel lucky to have been a prize-winning student of his.), and that this new memoir truly captures the spirit of what it was like to be a student in his classroom.

"Teacher Man" opens with a hilarious Prologue that would seem quite self-serving if written by someone other than Frank McCourt, in which he reviews his star-struck existence in the nine years since the original publication of "Angela's Ashes". In Part I (It's a Long Road to Pedagogy) he dwells on the eight years he spent at McKee Vocational High School in Staten Island. It starts, promisingly enough, with him on the verge of ending his teaching career, just as it begins in the lawless Wild West frontier of a McKee classroom (I was nearly in stitches laughing out loud, after learning why he was nearly fired on two consecutive days, no less.).
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Listen. Are you listening? You're not listening" Sept. 12 2007
Format:Paperback
A smile. A reminiscence of the good old school days. How many times did our teachers address us with that remark? If you are a teacher, how often did/do you say it to your students? Countless times. Mr. McCourt recounts his 30+ years as a teacher in various high schools in New York. For those of you who were, are or will be teachers, and for those who were, or are students, or if you simply enjoy real-life stories, this is the book for you.

Honing his teacher's skills as the years went by, Mr. McCourt delivers a true insight of life in the classroom, with its laughs, its tears, its frustrations, its joys. This book is constellated with memories from his past, which he would often talk about with his pupils, who always listened avidly and eagerly and were encouraged, in turn, to open up and believe in themselves.

His passion for teaching is all there in those laughs, tears, frustrations and joys. Unquestionably, teaching was what Mr. McCourt was meant to do, no matter how undervalued a profession it often was/is, but if you love it, that passion is the fuel igniting everything.
His writing is, as usual, witty, harrowing, poignant and humourous at the same time. He explores his own weaknesses and strengths squarely, learning as he teaches, facing hundreds of challenging minds every day.

After "Angela's Ashes" and " 'Tis ", this is perceived by the author as the last book about himslef. Should it be the case, please allow me to quote him once again by saying that I'm so glad he "sang his song, danced his dance, told his tale". Auspiciously, he'll write some more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I liked it! May 25 2006
Format:Hardcover
From the start, when McCourt got in classroom trouble, he told the stories of his formerly Irish life and the students listened. In the beginning he thinks these stories, and his other classroom solutions, are mistakes. He even confesses to feeling doomed during his NY teacher's exam. (When trapped then he suggests the students write a suicide note.) But he passes and he gets to experience all of those frustrating years in "trade schools." Eventually he ends up at Stuyvesant High with kids who were prepared to learn what he was prepared to teach. At Stuyvesant his "betters" saw themselves as colleagues and knew enough to trust him to stimulate.
Also recommended: "The Bark of the Dogwood" and "Katzenjammer" by McCrae
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
AN EXCELLENT BOOK.MANY THANKS. MIKE
Published 1 month ago by michael fisher
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Tis Better Than "'Tis"
I loved "Angela's Ashes" but was less excited by "'Tis." This memoir, dealing exclusively with Irish-American teacher/writer Frank McCourt's lifetime career in the... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Carol Ann Keys
2.0 out of 5 stars Not so much
Found it was very repiticious.I did keep reading thought it might get more interesting.Not. I did like Angelas |Ashes. Read more
Published 15 months ago by muskoka
1.0 out of 5 stars Wrong version
This is version for early readers not the complete version. I wanted the complete version and this was not clear from its online depiction.
Published 17 months ago by James
5.0 out of 5 stars He writes with wit, honesty and charm
All his books bring you within his life and pulls at your heart strings. it makes you realize that people do go through hardships and are able to live to laugh about it. Read more
Published on June 21 2012 by Frances
5.0 out of 5 stars ingenious
the approach of this teacher is very inspiring .humor ,vocabulary, diversity, heart, love for his profession. the audiobook i was listening brought him even closer to my heart. Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2012 by laury
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
This book is as good as, if not better than Angela's Ashes. Frank McCourt has a wonderful way of describing things that made me laugh out loud and in the next few pages bring... Read more
Published on July 14 2011 by crimsonlass
5.0 out of 5 stars More of the Same - And that's a Good Thing!
McCourt has a very consistent writing style with a very appealing, and revealing style.

I listened to the Audio Book as McCourt read it himself. I highly recommend that. Read more
Published on June 9 2011 by Bart Breen
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different McCort
Don't be put off reading McCort's Teacher Man because you didn't care for his other books. Although his melancholy nature comes through in the telling of his own teaching career,... Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2008 by KZ
3.0 out of 5 stars a passing grade
There is no doubt Mr McCourt is a competent writer; there is no overlooking the fact that he did win the Pulitzer Prize. Read more
Published on March 13 2007 by Shemogue
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