A third memoir from the author of the huge international bestsellers Angela's Ashes and 'Tis.
In Teacher Man, Frank McCourt details his illustrious, amusing, and sometimes rather bumpy long years as an English teacher in the public high schools of New York City...Frank McCourt arrived in New York as a young, impoverished and idealistic Irish boy - but one who crucially had an American passport, having been born in Brooklyn.
He didn't know what he wanted except to stop being hungry and to better himself.
On the subway he watched students carrying books. He saw how they read and underlined and wrote things in the margin and he liked the look of this very much.
He joined the New York Public Library and every night when he came back from his hotel work he would sit up reading the great novels.
Building his confidence and his determination, he talked his way into NYU and gained a literature degree and so began a teaching career that was to last 30 years, working in New York's public high schools. Frank estimates that he probably taught 12,000 children during this time and it is on this relationship between teacher and student that he reflects in 'Teacher Man', the third in his series of memoirs.
The New York high school is a restless, noisy and unpredictable place and Frank believes that it was his attempts to control and cajole these thousands of children into learning and achieving something for themselves that turned him into a writer.
At least once a day someone would put up their hand and shout 'Mr. McCourt, Mr. McCourt, tell us about Ireland, tell us about how poor you were ...' Through sharing his own life with these kids he learnt the power of narrative storytelling, and out of the invaluable experience of holding 12,000 people's attention came 'Angela's Ashes'.
Frank McCourt was a legend in such schools as Stuyvesant High School - long before he became the figure he is now he would receive letters from former students telling him how much his teaching influenced and inspired them - and now in 'Teacher Man' he shares his reminiscences of those 30 years and reveals how they led to his own success with 'Angela's Ashes' and "Tis'.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 288 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date: 28/08/2006
- Category: Autobiography: general
- ISBN: 9780007173990
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by soylentgreen23
Well, this was a pleasant enough read, and after a few months' break from the reading it was a good way to get back in. Here, McCourt describes his long career in teaching in America. It's interesting, and there are enough details to satisfy teachers who want to try out some of his own techniques. I wasn't entirely happy with the style of his writing - somehow it seemed patronising and preachy even when McCourt was describing his own failures.
Review by eleanor_eader
I enjoyed Frank McCourt’s childhood biography, <i>Angela’s Ashes</i>, but never bothered to pick up <i>’Tis</i>, so I wasn’t sure if I would find any coherent link between the child of Ireland and America, and the teacher of American children… McCourt, however, brought his whole life to his teaching experiences, and his memoir of those years is a moving, (if directionless), wholly worthwhile read. I could have spent a lot longer reading about the first 8 years of his career, because his floundering and occasional flashes of brilliance made for fascinating reading. I was especially moved by the respect and appreciation he granted the pupils that graced his classrooms, even those that tested his early, fledgling teaching ability beyond its limits. I admit I expected something much more cynical from a retired teacher, but McCourt’s cynicism is reserved for his own life, bringing the internal Catholic guilt down upon himself for not somehow knowing or achieving what he wanted to do with his life – this despite having obviously done it, then and later, and quite successfully, at that.
Review by dannN
I didn't enjoy this book! The man seemed so self-effacing and incapable of doing anything right - it was only a matter of time before his marriage failed. He seemed to lack any spunk and I kept hoping that he would find some courage before the end of his tale, but alas! It was not to be. His story holds more appeal for the feminine reader....