Teacher Man: A Memoir Free
Teacher Man is a 2005 memoir written by Frank McCourt which describes and reflects on his development as a teacher in New York high schools and colleges. It is in continuation to his earlier two memoirs, Angela's Ashes and 'Tis.
Teacher Man: A Memoir
The book begins with a Prologue, in which the author acknowledges the changes that took place in him because he wrote the first memoir. He became famous, the book sold in the millions and in many languages, a wholly unexpected result. He met many new people in his fame, especially other authors. He demonstrated the changes in himself by listing all the people and institutions that made his childhood so difficult leaving burdens of guilt he thought were his alone, and forgave them one by one. He had a "second act" in his life, and writing the first book, more so than telling the stories to students or putting them on stage, brought him to a point of maturity, able to shed the pain and guilt that impeded his happiness in life.
The memoir describes Frank McCourt's pedagogy, which involves the students taking responsibility for their own learning, especially in his first school, McKee Vocational and Technical High School, on Staten Island in New York City. On the first day he nearly gets fired for eating a sandwich, which a boy had thrown in front of his desk, and the second day he nearly gets fired for joking that in Ireland, people go out with sheep after a student asks them if Irish people date. Much of his early teaching involves telling anecdotes about his childhood in Ireland in response to questions from his students, which incidents were mainly covered in his earlier books Angela's Ashes and 'Tis. He explains the continuing effort of adolescents to divert him from the lessons he wants to teach; he slowly realizes the stories can be part of teaching English, as the stories have structure just like the novels the students are reading, and he uses the stories to segue into the course material. It benefits him to verbalize his upbringing and hear the reactions of the students, a topic he expected to leave behind him when he sailed to America.
McCourt then teaches English as a Second Language, and also a class of predominantly African-American female students, whom he took to a production of Hamlet. He writes about his teacher certification test when he was asked about George Santayana, of whom he was ignorant, but later gives an excellent lesson to a class on the war poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, whose poems he knew well. Other highlights include his connection between how a pen works and how a sentence works; he did not feel strong in the topic of diagramming sentences, but did want to get across the basics. The school administration was impressed with this idea and some of the students grasped the point. His use of realia such as using students' forged excuse notes as a segue to writing with scenarios is another highlight of his teaching style, keeping the students involved.
When his daughter is 8 years old, he and his wife separate and divorce, with Frank moving out on his own as he continues teaching at Stuyvesant High School. Frank is still unsettled, working hard to figure out what he needs to do to achieve peace. He is hard on himself, for how hard it is for him to grow as he wants to grow, how many things he realizes as an adult that he suspects most teens know already. He stays strong in teaching, and as much as he can, sees how he can grow as a teacher and a person, even as his main goal is teaching his students.
He taught from the time he was twenty-seven and continued for thirty years. He spent most of his teaching career at Stuyvesant High School, where he taught English and Creative Writing with success for the students and a good experience for him, the teacher. His classes at Stuyvesant were popular with students and the school administration supported him in his developing approach to teaching, which included many creative turns, such as having the students read restaurant reviews for their structure, and then writing reviews of their school cafeteria and local eateries. On another day, students brought foods from home, enough for all in the class, and had their vocabulary lessons in the park near the school. The students have varied backgrounds and the foods they bring reflect the cuisines of the world. Next they read recipes from cook books, which turns into an event with musical accompaniment, as many students can play instruments well. One student realizes and shares with the class how the recipes are like poetry. The theme through all those experiences in his classes is that writers are always observing, seeking what is happening around them so they can both decide their own next actions and describe what they see in straightforward language.
Literary critic Michiko Kakutani writing in The New York Times found text to like in this book, but finds it lacking the charm of the first memoir, and better organized than the second. McCourt exhorts his students in the writing class at Stuyvesant High school when he interrogates them about their dinner the night before, which is "an exercise in observation and family dynamics, of course - a lesson to his students that "you are your material."" The reviewer feels that McCourt succeeded in this in his first memoir, but it is "a lesson he tries to resurrect, with less success, in this tepid new book."
Rebecca Seal in The Guardian concludes that "At times McCourt can be a deeply frustrating protagonist, but this is, none the less, a really good read." Where the experienced teacher reviewing the book sees through every device, this reviewer notes that "The only place he [McCourt] ever seems to have belonged was in front of a class, ... although it's difficult to know whether his self-deprecation is disingenuousness or exaggeration, or if he really was as shy, miserable and irrational as he portrays himself to be." The contrast of reviews may point up that those who have been teachers can see through the devices of his style to understand the quality of this teacher. The memoir has "the lilting style and phonetic writing that marked out his last two books".
Jacki Lyden interviewed Frank McCourt and referred to Teacher Man as an "amusing and grim chronicle" of his life as a high school teacher; she remarked favorably on his use of language in the book, mentioning one phrase about the students "turning pages like lead" when they were not happy. The title of the book emerges from his second day of teaching at McKee Vocational High School, when one student both asked a question that framed McCourt's teaching style for the next 30 years, and then would not pick up on and use McCourt's name, but called him, "yo, teach" and then "yo, teacher man", when asking his question. The prologue from Teacher Man is reprinted at the web page; the interview is audio.
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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.
Why is Frank McCourt a publishing sensation when the memoirs of thousands of others lie forlorn and forgotten at the bottom of a drawer under a pile of rejection letters? A large part of it is due to the simple and undeniable quality of his writing, but another part is down to that mysterious process known as luck ... As McCourt himself says, 'When I taught in New York City high schools for thirty years no one but my students paid me a scrap of attention. In the world outside the school I was invisible. Then I wrote a book about my childhood and became mick of the moment......continued
Frank McCourt taught in the New York City public schools for twenty-seven years, the last seventeen of which were spent at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. After retiring from teaching, Frank and his brother, Malachy, performed their two-man show, A Couple of Blaguards, a musical review about their Irish Youth. In September 1996, Scribner published Frank's childhood memoir, Angela's Ashes, which spent 117 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. After more than sixty-five printings, there are over ... 041b061a72