Friday, March 13, 2009

Teacher man

[...] They ignored me. I moved toward Petey and made my first teacher statement: "Stop throwing sandwiches."

Teacher man is a 2005 memoir written by Frank McCourt which describes and reflects on his teaching experiences in New York high schools and colleges.

His pedagogy involves the students taking responsibility for their own learning, especially in his first school, McKee Vocational and Technical High School, in New York. On the first day he nearly gets fired for eating a sandwich, 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, which were covered in his earlier books Angela's Ashes and 'Tis.

He then taught English as a Second Language and took some African American students to a production of Hamlet. He talks about when he was training as a teacher and didn't know anything about George Santayana, but was able to give a well-prepared lesson on the war poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Other highlights include his connection between how a pen works and how a sentence works (in explaining subjects and grammar, an area which he struggled with himself) and his use of realia* like the students' excuse notes and cookbooks.

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.

During the time of the book he went to Trinity College to try to take his doctorate, but he ended up leaving his first wife because of the strain.

McCourt's self-deprecating style emerges in descriptions of his shyness, lack of self-esteem, shame at gaps in his education, negative descriptions of his physical appearance, social ineptitude, jealousy when women with whom he has slept with promptly leave him for other men, difficulties in his marriage, and a brief period of psychoanalytic treatment.

He eventually overcame this and became a well earned person.

*Realia: is a term used in library science and education to refer to certain real-life objects.

In my opinion, in Teacher Man, Frank McCourt turns his attention to subjects closest to his heart: teaching - why it's so important, why it's so undervalued - and storytelling. He tells of his own coming of age as a teacher, a storyteller, and, ultimately, a writer. From every one of these captivating pages it is clear that from the very start he seized his students' attention by telling great stories. And here he does it again, for us.


  1. Well, Laura, this is a very good post about Teacher Man. And this is a post, not a comment. A comment is what I am doing now.
    Please, don't forget to say where you got the information from the next time you write or leave a post here. Thanks

  2. hi laura!!!this a very interesting post about Frank McCourt... well in fact it's a bit boring :)

  3. The book is most interesting, but I haven't time for reading deeply.
    Bye bye! ^^

  4. thanks for your comment marta :)

    isidro... ¬¬

  5. elisa want to read angela´s ashes.Could someone borrow it for her?? thaksss!she is in love with FRank McCour

  6. Hi Laura!Your post is very interesting for us, because we are reading this book(Teacher man).but it,s a lot of boring.
    And Lazaro said that ok!
    kisses !!!!!
    see you later!!!
    bye friends!

    (i feeling in my fingers, I feeling in my toes, love is all arround us and alba is a lot of strange. muajajja

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. elisa has cut her really nice.PLEASE SAID HER THAT IS BEAUTIFUL..SHE NEED IT

  9. alba, it isn't i feeling, it's I FEEL IT ¬¬


  10. Elisa loves Mr.McCourt (L)

    There's very very beautifully;)

  11. Ana said that:

    If you wanna be my lover......

  12. I've got all the books by Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes, It's and Teacher Man (in Spanish) I'll lend them to anyone who is interested in reading any of these books.
    I promise! ;-)