Teacher Man: A Memoir Paperback – Sep 19 2006
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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.
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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Top Customer Reviews
I listened to the Audio Book as McCourt read it himself. I highly recommend that. There are very strong meanings and reinforced patterns to be gained by listening to his lilting Irish Brogue.
McCourt writes as he thinks, and in doing so his book is both biographical and very psychologically revealing. Sure it gives insight to the teacher. But it really shows us ourselves. Self-doubt, pride, arrogance, mistakes, warts and all it is there. McCourt has found the avenue to meet the self-doubting scared little child in all of us. His experiences recounted in the book with regard to group therapy come full circle as we sit with him in group and hear him share what we all are experiencing.
McCourt fans will not be disappointed.
This should be required reading, or listening for all teachers as well as students, or former students.
Hits the mark!
"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.).Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
An good synopsis of Mr McCourt's teaching career. I had a feeling that he was an entertaining and a wonderful teacher. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Judy Whittam
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 morePublished on July 12 2013 by carkeys
Found it was very repiticious.I did keep reading thought it might get more interesting.Not. I did like Angelas |Ashes. Read morePublished on June 30 2013 by muskoka
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 on May 13 2013 by James
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 morePublished on June 21 2012 by Frances
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 morePublished on Feb. 11 2012 by laury
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 morePublished on July 14 2011 by crimsonlass