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For 30 years Frank McCourt taught high school English in New York City and for much of that time he considered himself a fraud. During these years he danced a delicate jig between engaging the students, satisfying often bewildered administrators and parents, and actually enjoying his job. He tried to present a consistent image of composure and self-confidence, yet he regularly felt insecure, inadequate, and unfocused. After much trial and error, he eventually discovered what was in front of him (or rather, behind him) all along--his own experience. "My life saved my life," he writes. "My students didn't know there was a man up there escaping a cocoon of Irish history and Catholicism, leaving bits of that cocoon everywhere." At the beginning of his career it had never occurred to him that his own dismal upbringing in the slums of Limerick could be turned into a valuable lesson plan. Indeed, his formal training emphasized the opposite. Principals and department heads lectured him to never share anything personal. He was instructed to arouse fear and awe, to be stern, to be impossible to please--but he couldn't do it. McCourt was too likable, too interested in the students' lives, and too willing to reveal himself for their benefit as well as his own. He was a kindred spirit with more questions than answers: "Look at me: wandering late bloomer, floundering old fart, discovering in my forties what my students knew in their teens."
As he did so adroitly in his previous memoirs, Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, McCourt manages to uncover humor in nearly everything. He writes about hilarious misfires, as when he suggested (during his teacher's exam) that the students write a suicide note, as well as unorthodox assignments that turned into epiphanies for both teacher and students. A dazzling writer with a unique and compelling voice, McCourt describes the dignity and difficulties of a largely thankless profession with incisive, self-deprecating wit and uncommon perception. It may have taken him three decades to figure out how to be an effective teacher, but he ultimately saved his most valuable lesson for himself: how to be his own man. --Shawn Carkonen
"Nearly a decade ago Frank McCourt became an unlikely star when, at the age of sixty-six, he burst onto the literary scene with Angela's Ashes, the Pulitzer Prize -- winning memoir of his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Then came 'Tis, his glorious account of his early years in New York. Now, here at last, is McCourt's long-awaited 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 he faces in public high schools around New York City. His methods anything but conventional, McCourt creates a lasting impact on his students through imaginative assignments (he instructs one class to write "An Excuse Note from Adam or Eve to God"), singalongs (featuring recipe ingredients as lyrics), and field trips (imagine taking twenty-nine rowdy girls to a movie in Times Square!). McCourt struggles to find his way in the classroom and spends his evenings drinking with writers and dreaming of one day putting his own story to paper. 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. McCourt's rocky marriage, his failed attempt to get a Ph.D. at Trinity College, Dublin, and his repeated firings due to his propensity to talk back to his superiors ironically lead him to New York's most prestigious school, Stuyvesant High School, where he finally finds a place and a voice. "Doggedness," he says, is "not as glamorous as ambition or talent or intellect or charm, but still the one thing that got me through the days and nights." For McCourt, storytelling itself is the source of salvation, and in Teacher Man, the journey to redemption -- and literary fame -- is an exhilarating adventure. "
- Great book
I have read Angela's Ashes and just finished the Teacher Man. He made me laugh and made me cry. Love his style of writing. ...more info
Another wonderful memoir from McCourt, famed author of "Angela's Ashes," about his childhood in Ireland. McCourt wrote "Angela's" when he was in his 60's, and this book takes us back to the thirty years before he became an author, when he was a decidedly less-famous high school English teacher in New York City. As the book opens, McCourt is a brand new teacher struggling to get his footing in a difficult career. Unable to get his students interested in the actual curricula, McCourt instead spends most of his class periods telling his kids the stories of his youth -- stories that eventually became "Angela's Ashes" and its sequel, "'Tis." In the middle of his tales, he'd often slip in some lesson about grammar or literature, sneaking every bit of education into his students' brains that he could. Though he was sure he'd get fired any day for his unorthodox teaching methods. Instead, he is mostly embraced by his peers and superiors, and, over time, grows to love his job intensely.
This book made me both wish I were a teacher and feel glad that I wasn't, which, I think, means it perfectly describes both the experience and profession (I'm the only non-teacher in a family full of teachers, so I know somewhat of what I speak). Another masterfully-written and thoroughly engaging book by one of today's most talented memoirists. Not to be missed!
- A teacher's review ("Stop throwing sandwiches!")
This is my first McCourt book, as I am apparently the only person in the English-speaking world that has not read "Angela's Ashes".
The book started like a house afire for me - full of the trepidation of the first day of school for a brand new teacher. What would he say? First impressions are vital - how much more vital is the first impression for an entire career? As is normal on a first day (I've had 17 years of them!), the first words from McCourt are not planned - they are a reaction to what the kids say and do - he has to yell, "Stop throwing sandwiches!"
McCourt's classroom rememberings are enjoyable - his style is not mine (at least not as of yet - styles evolve and change over time) but it was certainly original and caused the kids to think and he had their attention - more than half the battle is won if you have your attention. His rantings against administrators seem, for the most part, true (sad to say).
I found myself irritated at the middle of the book - seemingly great stretches that wander away from the classroom and deal with his failed attempt at a doctorate from an Irish university and a bad marriage. At the end, we are back in the classroom and the book sings along happily once again.
So, final grade. I give it a "B". Great start and finish. ...more info
- The Youth's Perspective is the Key
This is the third autobiographic novel of the life of McCourt, and because it deals with the mind and attitudes and language of the young adult, it succeeds in many of the ways which earned "Angela's Ashes" the Pulitzer Prize.
In the life of McCourt, "Teacher Man" follows "`Tis" which follows "Angela's Ashes." All were written after he retired as a teacher. "Angela's Ashes" was exemplary in its ability to look at things in the perspective of a young man. McCourt's ability to show impressionable insight amid the squander and pallor of the Irish slum was both bitter sweet and amazing. Delivering such childlike tales literally 40 or more years after the actual incidents, and after having his own mind calloused with age and cynicism, was the wonder of his first novel.
"`Tis" was not as wonderful as it dealt with adult minds, with adult issues and missed that wanderlust perspective which adorned "Angela's Ashes." But, "Teacher Man" returns to the child - young adult at least - and provides us with the perspective of a young teacher amid young students in a very rough New York school. Truthfully, it was a match made only in America - McCourt never attended high school - let alone an American high school - and was placed in charge of an American high school class within moments of finishing university.
The book can be described as a calling out by teachers. It could be recommended reading for teachers. It could be an instructional book for teachers. "Those who can't do, teach." "Those who can't teach, teach teachers." Unfortunately, university professors have probably never encountered the shenanigans within a high school classroom, and their curriculum reflects such ignorance as they do not specify precisely how to discipline the chaos which so often arises within the schools' walls. McCourt's "Teacher Man" may be a response to such an academic vacuum.
In the meantime, he will tour America and Europe, and may even be invited as a guest on a late night talk show. Imagine that - a teacher on a talk show....more info
- Teacher Man
I thoughly enjoyed reading this book, and would probably send for more books of this kind in the future.... DC...more info
- Sometimes interesting & amusing
I was a little disappointed with the book. It has its high points, but generally it didn't hold my interest as much as his previous books...more info
- Climbing the ladder of success, trailing a lifetime's baggage
An admitted late bloomer, Frank McCourt more than makes up for his tardiness with "Teacher Man," the third installment (after "Angela's Ashes" and "'Tis") of his life story. In the years between his miserable childhood in Ireland and his late-in-life success as a writer, McCourt spent thirty years teaching in New York City's high schools and community colleges. "Teacher Man" shows McCourt as he begins to make it in America, moving from the docks by dint of a teaching certificate and even higher degrees. Meanwhile, he struggles with the insecurities and esteem problems that stem from his Irish Catholic upbringing. Ironically, his genius and self-doubt combine to make him (at least in his own telling) a fairly successful teacher who can connect with kids that his more experienced colleagues cannot.
McCourt incisively recalls and communicates the motivations and methods of the major players. There are the other teachers, full of loathing for their students and ever-ambitious for a chance to get into administration. There are the no-nothing teacher college professors, whose lack of first-hand knowledge condemns their lessons to irrelevance. There are the kids, ever on the lookout for an angle to distract teachers from their lesson plans. There is McCourt himself, telling his life stories, first as a way to keep the kids quiet, then as he grows in confidence, as a way to reach them and even teach them. McCourt's honesty is refreshing and often painful. His painful and loutish groping toward relationships with women only lightly veils the most intimate of details. The "Frank McCourt" character he creates here is bumbling, prickly (sometimes to the point of violence), always vulnerable but ultimately true to himself.
McCourt's style, a kind of rolling narrative, dips into the past as often as it pushes the narrative forward. Some may see him tapping his previous works overmuch. But it is a perfect parallel to the way of memory of one as sensitive as McCourt -- ever circling back to touchstones in memory to make sense of the present.
"Teacher Man" is entertaining, illuminating and hard to put down. For an extra bonus, listen to the audio book voiced by author....more info
- Disappointing and Tired
Since I am a teacher in NYC, several friends have recommended Teacher Man. Some even sent me the book.
After about 75 pages, I can't get into it. Here is why:
1. He turns the kids into cartoon characters. He describes them as "the mouth," "the saint" etc. I don't think that McCourt's writer-heroes use cliches in place of characters.
2. He uses the kids as a foil to tell his own stories, in the pages I have read. A kid asks something, and that is a chance for McCourt to talk about his life extensively.
3. His deprived childhood was fascinating in Angela's Ashes, especially because he wrote the story so well. I related. I think he is stuck there now, coming back to the same type of material with tired repetition. Angela's Ashes was a much more affecting and profound book than Teacher Man. He has run out of mileage on his deprived childhood and its effects, which was no worse than the lives of 3/4 of the world's children now, and no worse than the lives of 1/4 of my current students. I have one student living in a shelter, barely making it. I related to Angela's Ashes, but once was enough on McCourt not having toilet paper as a kid. Now it just sounds self-absorbed.
4. He strains to be cute. His humor is forced, and often not even funny. He uses cute phrases and slang as humor, and it comes across as dated and a little silly.
5. His attempts at lyricism don't work. Pigeons copulating on the window sill while his student's breasts are revealed under their blouses is poor imagery. It is offensive enough to be stupid, and not gritty enough to transcend cliche. Plus, pigeons copulating, for a New Yorker, hardly seem lyrical. They do it on my air conditioner all the time and then defecate. So what.
6. If I talked this much about myself to my students they would yell at me that I was boring, then knock their desks over and run out of the room. Granted, he is writing about kids over 30 years ago, but I was hoping that I could relate to something, since I am a teacher.
Maybe I should not judge so harshly, having read only the first 75 pages. Maybe it suddenly gets much better. But I have to quit. I have a stack of good books to read. And what a disappointment after Angela's Ashes....more info
- A bit of a letdown
Enjoyable enough read, but somehow not as insightful as I had expected given his earlier books. Reading it did not put me in a better position to understand how to be a better teacher, and even just as a story it was not as compelling as his earlier stuff....more info
- Absolute gem, especially if you're a teacher
Having loved Angela's Ashes, and liked 'Tis, I would have gladly read another book by Frank McCourt, but being a teacher, I did not have any hesitations when I spotted "Teacher Man" on the shelves of a bookstore. It is a very different book from the previous two, shorter but denser and more detailed. It reaches the completeness and complexity that I found missing from "Tis". It'sa fun, pleasant read by itself, but particularly precious if you work in education. It will give you a splendid view of how teaching can be an illuminating, lively and artistic experience if you go at it with a fresh mind, energy and above all, originality. (and if you manage to break through the web of dullness that dumb bureaucrat try to place on you). I wonder if the author could have managed to write his beautiful books without the rich, warm, creative, crazy experience he had in his many years of teaching....more info
- Good Book
If you enjoyed either of his other two books, you will no doubt enjoy this one. He writes in the same witty manner and gives you a decent insight into how difficult teachers have it when trying to deal with high school brats :)...more info
- Written (by myself) originally for a class assignment
I have been privileged with unique relationships of my reading Frank McCourt books. I was forced originally to read Angela's Ashes, his first (and Pulitzer Prize winning) book. That was the beginning, back home in my high school American Literature course. McCourt engaged my mind and senses from the first paragraph; as I began eagerly reading ahead of the class, I would often be called upon to continue where the last student had left off in the communal reading and have no idea where to begin. The book contained many more depressing stories than uplifting ones, but the content was so genuine, fascinating, and enthralling that I truly felt that there was a problem if I didn't read it to the end. Then I read `Tis and found myself asking why it too didn't receive a Pulitzer Prize. `Tis had a very hard act to follow, but it earned the same standing ovation of all the people who pushed it to the top of bestseller lists.
In reading value, those books stood well in their own respective rights. It was hard to believe that McCourt could paint another masterpiece on such similar material. However, he had gained my respect twice so I resolved to give him the benefit of the doubt and expect such quality out of Teacher Man when it was released. Imagine my surprise and excitement when I learned that the man himself would be reading directly from the fresh memoir at my new home in New York City. And that, at a price of only four dollars for subway fare! The skinny man looked older than I expected, but he was as lively and entertaining as his written dialogue.
McCourt's Irish accent and his quite respectable, sarcastic rendition of New York school children's own stuck with me through the reading of my crisp, autographed copy of Teacher Man. The book began where `Tis left off, at the beginning of his teaching career after college in New York City. McCourt was twenty seven years old in 1958, and he had no clue what he had gotten himself into at McKee Vocational High School on Staten Island.
In Teacher Man, Frank shows us some of his most embarrassing and revealing moments as a person and a "Teacher Man" as he learns the ropes in his own style, rejecting the advice of nameless amounts of worn-out veteran teachers. He teaches for thirty years inside schools with the most hard-knock, and equally prestigious reputations in the entire United States. He struggles with meeting the demands of school administration, and secretly he despises them and all figures of authority. Outside of school Frank shows himself to be deprived of human attention and devaluing of his own self-worth. When he does receive attention he reacts awkwardly to it, and endures idly through being cheated in relationships. He ruins the good ones he has because of his unwillingness to behave as a responsible adult.
The book is not as heart-wrenching as its predecessors, but it makes up for that in intriguing, dynamic qualities of revelatory self reflection and realization. Teacher Man is a must read for fans of Frank McCourt, and for anyone who wants to pay their respects to the schoolteachers that made them who they are today. McCourt has succeeded in placing a delicious red cherry atop the equally satisfying vanilla ice cream and moist chocolate brownies of Angela's Ashes and `Tis with Teacher Man.
As an up-and-coming teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Teacher Man." I was unable to put it down and finished it in two evenings on the couch. Some negative reviewers here seem to think that McCourt doesn't like kids... but I didn't get that impression at all. From my reading, it seemed that McCourt had an easier and more willing relationship with his students than their parents.
I think the best part of the book is the insight. It made me feel not so different when Frank McCourt wrote about his fear of the certification proceedure or about how he felt like a fraud. "How am I going to pull this off?!" Perhaps those fears are good. Maybe trying goes out the window once you're no longer nervous. Who knows? ...more info
- Fitting Sequel to "Angela's Ashes"
If Angela's Ashes is about the struggle for raw survival, Teacher Man is about the struggle for happiness in the affluent if alienated world of the latter half of the Twentieth Century. McCourt is wonderfully honest about his strengths and weaknesses as a teacher, and his story to survive and excel as a teacher has real drama.
McCourt is able to show the crushing burdens and limited rewards of his profession. But his humor and his ability to show how he ultimately connects with his students make this book in some ways more emotionally rewarding than Angela's Ashes.
The story can be a bit desultory at times, and greater detail, particularly regarding his later years at Stuyvesant High, would have made this a better book. While administration is painted as the great obstacle to teachers, McCourt's treatment of this issue is a bit one-sided and superficial. He may be right, but he does not make his point effectively.
The strength of the book is its emotional honesty and the vividness with which he can portray his own internal conflicts as well as the connections he is able to make with his students. ...more info
- 'Tis Hard To Follow Up A Pulitzer... But A Nice Read And Treat For Teachers
Winning a Pulitzer Prize forAngela's Ashes: A Memoir of a Childhood, Frank McCourt's enthralling story of his dirt poor existence as a child in Ireland,and accounts of his families hardships, he follows up his life stories with two more books."Tis" is the continuation of his new life as a young man in New York,his time served in the military, and finally getting his foot in the door of a University and getting his teaching degree. A wonderful account of whatever happened to little Frankie McCourt. Now,in this final entry in the trilogy, "Teacher Man", Mr. McCourt tells us of his experiences working with thousands of teens over many years, in the schools of New York. All three are told with much humor and a great style. I suppose, though, if there is any sort of draw back about winning a Pulitzer,it would be that the reader will expect the same level of captivating and entertaining read by the third book as the first. I would say if you haven't read the other two first, and you are a teacher just looking for a good and funny read you can relate to, you should add a star to my rating. In those respects, it is a book that stands on it's own.
The first several chapters of "Teacher Man", I felt was basically a recap of the two previous books, which is most helpful if you are starting with this one. Then the stories of his years in the school system, the good, bad and ugly of it all is a real eye-opener. At first he is trying to find his way, to learn how to actually teach instead of discipline.He enlightens us with the teacher-student relationship, the style he develops that fill his classes to standing room only, shaping young minds to find the joy of learning(even if he has to use the reading of recipe books, to bring that out in them), while dealing with parents disapproval and stubborn attitudes, and individual accounts of several students that carved a special place in his memoirs.He also doesn't let us forget, that 'Teacher Man' has a personal life as well. One that may not be the image of what his students and their parents expect from him.
The tales are still told with same McCourt brand of humor that we have come to love in Angela and Tis.It is a tribute to teachers everywhere, and you will come away respecting the untiring work of those in the profession. I did. There were a few of the stories that I enjoyed very much. An account of taking a class full of rowdy girls to the movies, and then to a Shakespearian play, had me laughing out loud. But there were others that just did not grab me, pull me in and keep me turning the pages, as well as the first two books. I thought that several of the accounts of the classroom activities just went on a bit too long, and admittedly I occasionally found myself checking to see how many pages were left in the chapter.
But that being said, it is a humorous and enlightening book that would surely make a nice gift and treat for the teacher in your life this Holiday Season.
Enjoy the read.....Laurie
here is another great memoir:KIRK DOUGLAS THE RAGMAN'S SON AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
- Required Reading for Anyone Interested in Teaching in NYC
This is my first year teaching in a New York City Public School. I listened to this book prior to moving to New York and enjoyed it immensely. Hearing the author read his own words, especially in this author's expressive brogue, was outstanding. I highly recommend the CD simply for entertainment purposes.
For anyone considering following in Mr. McCourt's footsteps, beware! The city schools are every bit as challenging as they were in Mr. McCourt's day, but more so in that principals hide the disruptive and violent behavior of students by refusing to take discipline beyond the classroom. There is a unspoken but strongly encouraged practice by certain LISs that want to hide the real problems in the schools they supervise to make their performance look stronger than it actually is. Suspensions and SAVE room use count against them and the building principals under the new city guidelines as well as NLRB. The school violence statistics are severely underreported due to these dangerous and hidden practices, to the extent that the UFT has set up their own hot-line for reporting school violence to get a more realistic picture of what is actually happening in the school.
Woe to you if, like me, you are lured to a building with an untenured principal under these false pretences! I have been told fist fights are a "Classroom management issue" and to "call the parents if you feel you can't handle it." Although there is a security officer in the school, calls for help when children are attacking others, using chairs or other movable objects in the room as weapons, are ignored by the office staff because they require a write up and these write-ups reflect on the administrative staff as well. It took me two phone calls to the office, one to security and over fifteen minutes to get help disarming a knife wielding elementary student who was jumping on the desks shouting, "I'm going to slice people in this room!" recently. The five little girls in the class were cowering and crying while I protected them from his rampage as best I could. I was reprimanded for not having control of my classroom and am now being subjected to harassment about my planning since, according to the principal, incidents like this wouldn't happen if my lessons were written out more completely.
Disruptive behavior is constant and unless a teacher is willing to browbeat or bribe students into enough docility that teaching can take place, 90% of time is spent correcting constant outbursts rather than instruction. Don't listen to this CD thinking, "How wonderful things have changed since then." It's as bad now, but the disruptive behavior Mr. McCourt describes in the challenging High School settings he taught in has moved down into Kindergarten.
- A Great Teacher Who Found His Calling
In fast-paced, conversational prose, "Teacher Man" author Frank McCourt describes his 30-year career as an English educator in New York City's public high schools. Mr. McCourt's humility, brutal honesty, and humor provide sage advice for anyone contemplating a career in teaching.
McCourt has a particular gift for story-telling, which is evident in his writing and teaching styles. He often alludes to his miserable childhood in Ireland, a stint in the US Army, and his hardscrabble life on the New York City waterfront, experiences which enrich his classes in creative ways.
By way of criticism, Mr. McCourt has an annoying habit of employing colorful but undefined Irish slang--words such as "amadaun" (dunce) and "begorrah" ("by God")--not found in many American dictionaries. In addition, although he extensively relies upon dialogue, McCourt never uses quotation marks. Therefore it is sometimes difficult to follow his train of thought.
One of McCourt's great strengths is his humbleness. Early in Teacher Man, he notes that he passed his certification test by only four points, and at the end of the book confides to his last class that he is "a lousy teacher" which he tells readers is "partly true." This self-assessment comes from a man voted "Teacher of the Year" in 1976 at New York City's prestigious Stuyvesant High School.
A part of Mr. McCourt's life to which this reader can relate is his extreme difficulty in finding his calling. Over many decades, McCourt drifts from job to job, school to school. At one point, he returns to Ireland to enroll in a PhD program, which he then quits. Although McCourt is fond of teaching, his true passion is writing, an occupation in which he did not fully engage until he was well past sixty. To people in search of themselves, Mr. McCourt counsels, "Do what you love."
Anyone contemplating a career in teaching--or wanting a firsthand look at life in the classroom--should read Teacher Man. It's an earthy, entertaining eye-opener. ...more info
I liked his other books much more. I thought this book would be stories about teaching and his individual students' struggles to learn, his relationships with them, etc. Instead, it seemed to be just a platform to tell more stories of his life, in that he would tell his life stories to his students, because the students wanted to hear stories rather than the subject he was teaching.
It wasn't really what I was expecting and I believe he used most of his best stories of his childhood and youth in the first two books. ...more info
- On Par with Angela's Ashes
Frank McCourt made his bones in "Angela's Ashes" by recounting the tales of his life in Ireland to the millions who understood where he was coming from. Many have read Angela's Ashes more than once -- so close to the heart did it hit.
In his next novel, "Tis," he did what any self-respecting Irishman would do - he took a Mulligan and milked the notoriety of "Angela's Ashes" for all it was worth. His fans forgave him and waited for this writer of lyrical prose to get his act together.
With the publishing of "Teacher Man" the wait has ended. He did what his story-telling nature does best - he told of the events in his real life as a teacher in the ethnic public schools around NY City.
The book is a 5-star delight. To his millions of Irish fans, he has undoubtedly added the teachers who struggle to educate reluctant adolescents.
- Witty Account of Teacher's Coming of Age
I found this a book to be read quite leisurely, without concern about a dramatic outcome or message to be learned. Not that those aren't important in other books, but McCourt's way of telling his story is a pleasure in itself. The turn of a phrase, repeated at strategically humorous moments, enlivens his account repeatedly. There are serious moments, difficult times for the young teacher, but McCourt's general bouyancy carries us through. He admits to having rough edges that affected his teaching and personal life, but for us these qualities make him more human and provide a better story. It tends to be episodic, of course, with some periods covered much more than others, but the book is highly worthwhile as a teacher's humorous personal history. I enjoyed it. ...more info
- Terribly boring and repetitive
I purchased this book with the hopes of having something fun and enjoyable to read, but ended up struggling to finish it. I have never read Angela's Ashes or 'Tis, but at this point I don't think I want to!
The book started off with McCourt being a teacher trying to find his way in the teaching world and trying to figure out what works with the students, but then it seemed to stay there. Throughout the entire book it seemed that he was more worried about the students liking him than actually teaching them anything. And even after 30 years of teaching apparently he still has no idea what he's doing and still just wants his students to like him.
As I haven't read his other books I didn't mind the flashbacks to his childhood in Ireland, although he seems to repeat the same types of situations over and over. But his stories about his students and their parents were even more repetitive. At one point I thought i'd put my bookmark on the wrong page because I was sure i'd read a certain part already, but, no, he was just telling a "different" story that was exactly like the others.
As this book is only 257 pages long I expected to finish it in a day or two but it took me almost a week because I just didn't WANT to read it. Maybe if i was a teacher i'd find it more amusing, but I say don't waste your money buying this!...more info
- Lessons Learned
Before gaining worldwide fame and acclaim for writing his memoir of a terrible Irish Catholic childhood, Frank McCourt used the stories of his life to teach high school English for thirty years. "Teacher Man", his third foray into memoir writing, examines those years spent teaching from the very beginning to the bittersweet end. Scattered in between stories of the classroom are bits of Frank's life at those times, some comic, some searing, all of them evocative of his colorful life.
After serving in the U.S. Army, Frank McCourt went to New York University on the G.I. Bill and decided to become a teacher, knowing that people back home would be amazed and respect him. He chronicles his struggle to get (and sometimes keep) a teaching job in the various high schools in New York, and his time wondering if he really wants to spend the rest of his life worrying about grading those 175 essays of 350+ words each. McCourt is a wonderful storyteller, and readers can easily understand how he could captivate classrooms, even the unruliest, with tales of his childhood. Anyone who has taught will appreciate his raw admission that he often felt like a fraud in front of the classroom, wondering why certain things (like how to handle unruly kids) isn't taught in those college education classes, and whether or not to admit they don't know the answer to something. Readers can also recognize the struggle that is common to everyone, of finally figuring out what they want to do in life, and where they finally belong.
"Teacher Man" is a quick, honest, and sometimes brutal examination of teaching. So many are quick to dismiss teachers since they have the summer off, and teachers are treated as the lowest of the low on the professional totem pole. McCourt nails these feelings exactly, especially the image of his schoolbag full of ungraded papers sitting in the corner with eyes that follow you everywhere. Some people may find it hard to believe that he can recall the names of these students and aspects about their lives so many years later, but McCourt is right on when he talks about your life as a teacher: these lives stay inside your head, whether you want to give them that room or not. The struggles and glories of the classroom remain even as you try to go to bed at night, and will remain for years on end. ...more info
- Teacher Man
We love the book on CD, but we were disappointed that we did not get this item until after Christmas....more info
- Teacher Man, Honest Man
Frank McCourt is one of America's greatest writers, and his books are nearly impossible to put down. That's quite a statement to make about a book about a teaching career, which might sound like a snoozer if ever there was one. Those of us who read Angela's Ashes are not surprised that he grew up to be haunted by self-doubt, self-defeating, prone to drinking too much, awkward with ladies, in a failed marriage, etc. Those of us who had miserable childhoods, too, but eventually turned out OK, are also not surprised that he managed to have a productive life anyway, even if he undervalued it at times. There is a lot in this book we can relate to, and that is because he is more honest about himself than most of us would ever have the courage to be in public. Those of us who have been teachers appreciate his honesty about how hard it is and admire how he overcame the war of wills to learn to dance with his classes, once he found an environment where he could thrive and be creative. This book shows how much life happens in a classroom and how one decent, imperfect, and brilliant teacher nurtured that life and gave it voice....more info
- A shame!!
That he didn't write when he was younger I can only imagine how funny those stories might have been. As far as this book goes it most definately is a keeper....more info
- A glimpse of reality with a good dose of laughter
This is the first McCourt book I've read, and now I'm planning on reading the others. Frank McCourt writes in a very readable style and gives his reader a fly-on-the-wall perspective on teaching high school students. I found myself laughing on every other page, and although I'm not in education, I'd recommend this book to anyone considering an education in teaching. This is not one of those books that's hard to "get into". From the first page, you're compelled to keep turning....more info
- Particularly Apt for Me
I am in the middle of a life-career change. I'm going to be a teacher.
A friend of mine lent me this book a while ago simply because she had read it. I don't think she had any idea how pertinent it would be for me.
This is the circuitous tale of Mr. McCourt teaching in the schools of New York City. He starts (and spends a good deal of time) teaching in vo-tech schools and eventually ends up in one of the premier private schools in the city.
Throughout the book, his self-deprication is humorous and apparent, as is his appreciation for the people he teaches. Yes, he's frustrated, often. But at the same time, he's the strangest english teacher I've ever heard of.
Reciting recipes as a part of creative writing? That's weird. Sorry.
I really found the tales amusing, and I can understand how he'd be a wildly popular teacher: he has the Irish Bard's gift of the tale. Teachers like that often do.
This is, however, not his first book, and it seems like he's searching for some tales to fill this tome. Not by much, though.
A solid 4 stars.
- Life and Teaching Are Not Easy
I was very surprized about this book. Frank McCourt was not the jovial , funny loving man I thought he would be. In this memoir, Mc Court writes briefly about his college education, his early years teaching at vocational high schools, and finally with pride some interesting lessons he taught at Stuyvesant High School.McCourt writes honestly about the difficulty of teaching . There is some humor in his story ( McCourt developed his students' writing skills by having them practice writing excuse notes). McCourt also had some sexual affaires before and during his unhappy marriage.
I liked this book. It was honest.I came away from the book thinking that we shouldn't give up on ourselves. No matter how old we are we can still make a differnce. Frank McCourt was 66 years old when he wrote his first book.
- good advice
Decent book with good advice. I felt he rambled at times but maintained good humor throughout. ...more info
- A Loving Memoir for Teachers
Teacher Man is a Memoir that would be enjoyable to anyone, but it is a "must read" for anyone who has ever been or still is a teacher. Along with McCourt's warm and wonderful angst, there is also a strong elegy on what makes a teacher keep teaching, even when the environment leaves much to be desired. He shows his own discovering of his strengths and how he learns to bring the teacher out in himself. This is something, I think that all good teachers need to find within themselves. I laughed and I cried with his wonderful book....more info
- Excellent book
Wonderful story of this man's life. I think it much more interesting if you start with his first book and read them all in order....more info
- Frank McCourt - The Best
Frank McCourt writes about his teaching years and the students he remembers most. When I finished the book, I had the same question as with his previous books - "and then what happened next?" In other words I never want the stories to end, I could keep reading forever. His writing is unique, exciting, and brings to life everyone he writes about. I especially recommend the audio version - he records them himself in his wonderful Irish accent - they are just a joy to listen to.
I saw Frank McCourt in person then bought this book. It's hilarious as well as insightful for a future teacher. ...more info
- Not His Best
I loved Angel's Ashes. I thought Tis was pretty good, too but Teacher Man did not move me. I kept waiting the whole book for him to figure it out. He started to, and had a few poignant moments but it wasn't till the very when he seemed to begin to connect with this students and that's really what teaching is all about, isn't it? It never grabbed me.
- A must read for teachers or soon to be teachers
What a great guide afor the soul that is within the classroom. This novel is filled with very funny and poignent stories of a man/teacher and his many journeys while becoming and being a teacher in the classroom. McCourt's humorous tales of what and how the opposition (students) acts and treats teachers and each other. Very worth the time to read it. You will have much trouble putting it down!!!...more info