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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 car 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.


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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 car 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.

30 review for Teacher Man: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Teacher Man is as good example as any that if you have wit and personality you can tell an entertaining story. Told with an Irish accent helps too. I think McCourt, with his humble yet playful, self-degrading Irish charm could read from the phone book and hold a reader's attention. But he has lots to say worth hearing, as he recounts thirty years of teaching in New York's high schools and community colleges. A working class, blue collar teacher in the trenches, McCourt helped me better appreciate Teacher Man is as good example as any that if you have wit and personality you can tell an entertaining story. Told with an Irish accent helps too. I think McCourt, with his humble yet playful, self-degrading Irish charm could read from the phone book and hold a reader's attention. But he has lots to say worth hearing, as he recounts thirty years of teaching in New York's high schools and community colleges. A working class, blue collar teacher in the trenches, McCourt helped me better appreciate teaching as a profession; this is an enjoyable book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Janean

    This book is difficult to review. While I appreciated McCourt's attempt to recognize teachers (especially English teachers) and the work (often underappreciated) that we do, I felt that his theory of if we all "think outside the box" and try to be friendly with our students, than we will have a successful teaching career, a bit unrealistic, overly idealistic, and in many ways, condescending. While I do admire some of his methods, and enjoy his writing style, I found that the times when he let hi This book is difficult to review. While I appreciated McCourt's attempt to recognize teachers (especially English teachers) and the work (often underappreciated) that we do, I felt that his theory of if we all "think outside the box" and try to be friendly with our students, than we will have a successful teaching career, a bit unrealistic, overly idealistic, and in many ways, condescending. While I do admire some of his methods, and enjoy his writing style, I found that the times when he let his true sentiments show (like telling a kid to stop being so ignorant and have some respect for the English language, or having days where you were just sick of whining teenagers...does that make me mean or already jaded?)or when he simply let the student anecdotes speak for themselves, were my favorite parts of the book. I do think this is a more honest perception of teaching (especially the first part where he is working in the "tougher" schools during his first few years) than many other movies I've seen that try to portray teaching. Some of the autobiographical stuff could have been left out--too much information sometimes.

  3. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    My fourth book by Frank McCourt and I am still impressed. Teacher Man (2005) is the last book of his 3-part tragicomic memoir and it is about his experiences as a teacher in at least 3 schools in New York. He spent 33 years teaching high school students before he retired at the age of 60 and wrote his first book, Angela's Ashes at the age of 66. The book changed his life tremendously. He won a Pulitzer in 1997. National Book Critics Circle Award in 1996. He met President Bush, Lady Diana and othe My fourth book by Frank McCourt and I am still impressed. Teacher Man (2005) is the last book of his 3-part tragicomic memoir and it is about his experiences as a teacher in at least 3 schools in New York. He spent 33 years teaching high school students before he retired at the age of 60 and wrote his first book, Angela's Ashes at the age of 66. The book changed his life tremendously. He won a Pulitzer in 1997. National Book Critics Circle Award in 1996. He met President Bush, Lady Diana and other well-known personalities because of it. However, looking back, what he most treasured in his life was the opportunity to influence the many future American citizens. The schools were he taught at? vocational and technical school (McKee), adult education - teaching English to immigrants mostly mothers(New York City College of Technology) and later in the Harvard-equivalent for high school in the US: Stuyvesant High School where only the brightest high students are admitted. So, McCourt had enough challenges and to be able to survive that long means that he must have loved teaching. Afterall, teaching is said to be one of the noblest professions. Although there is almost nothing about Ireland and his poor family background in this book, his funny and witty lines are still much evident. I particularly enjoyed his conversations with his students particularly the immigrants who did not know much about literature and grammar. Those poor immigrants who came to America during that time (early 70's to late 80's) barely knew English and thought of themselves as nobody and McCourt took patience in turning that wrong belief around. They ended up liking William Shakespeare and appreciating Hamlet. Something that I can relate with since I have not read Hamlet yet. Ah, four lovely lovely books. It was nice knowing you, Frank McCourt! I will now read those two books (Singing My Him Song and A Monk Swimming) by your brother Malachy McCourt (born 1931) and 1 book (A Long Stone's Throw (1998) by Alphie McCourt (born 1940). I wonder if these younger brothers of yours are also as brilliant as you are when it comes to writing memoirs :)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    At first, I was a little disappointed, because the book went by so fast. He summed up 30 years of teaching in a little over 200 pages. Then, when I thought about it, I realized how much it made sense. I've only been teaching for five years, and at times, it feels like forever, but at the same time, it's gone by so fast. I think McCourt captured that perfectly. Also, I love his self-deprecating humor. There are many times when I feel like a fraud as a teacher, but I know that if I tried to write li At first, I was a little disappointed, because the book went by so fast. He summed up 30 years of teaching in a little over 200 pages. Then, when I thought about it, I realized how much it made sense. I've only been teaching for five years, and at times, it feels like forever, but at the same time, it's gone by so fast. I think McCourt captured that perfectly. Also, I love his self-deprecating humor. There are many times when I feel like a fraud as a teacher, but I know that if I tried to write like McCourt, I'd come off sounding whiny. He manages to do it sounding sincere.

  5. 4 out of 5

    JJ Marsh

    A very different book to Angela’s Ashes. It’s like listening to a witty, self-deprecating yet passionate man tell you stories of his life. You can even hear his accent. McCourt talks about his time as a teacher; how it came about, his successes and failures, his talent for telling stories. In other hands, this could read as one long ego trip. But this man is, was, a master storyteller. He draws you in with his confidences and asides, making you believe you’re sharing his secrets. I met Susan Jan A very different book to Angela’s Ashes. It’s like listening to a witty, self-deprecating yet passionate man tell you stories of his life. You can even hear his accent. McCourt talks about his time as a teacher; how it came about, his successes and failures, his talent for telling stories. In other hands, this could read as one long ego trip. But this man is, was, a master storyteller. He draws you in with his confidences and asides, making you believe you’re sharing his secrets. I met Susan Jane Gilman a couple of years ago. She’s a successful writer of memoir and funny anecdotes that had me snorting in hog-like fashion. She was one of Frank’s students at Stuyvesant High School and talked about him with such enthusiasm I just had to read his side of the experience. So I smiled when I came to this line in Teacher Man‚ “Susan Gilman never raises her hand. Everything is too urgent.” The other thing that appealed to me throughout this book is his clear belief in firing young minds with the value of imagination. He loved sharing his enthusiasm for literature and writing, and it’s evident from these pages that he was a terrific teacher. This is a gentle read, filled with quietly emotional moments which make you smile, nod and choke up. I’d love to have been in his Creative Writing class.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elke

    i hated this book. i didn't like the style of his writing. i didn't like the way he talked about his teaching and what he did in his classroom. as i kept on reading, i was just like- dude- you are not a good teacher. but maybe it's just the way he presented himself. when i got to the end, i was like- so. what was the point? but i guess the point was that this is part of his life story.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I read this book years ago, at the start of my teaching career. I can't remember if I was student teaching or if it was my first year, but nevertheless, I was a newbie. I actually started reading it again forgetting this was the Frank McCourt book I had read years ago. It took me about two pages to realize my mistake, but I figured I might as well finish it since I hadn't even remembered I had read it in the first place. McCourt no doubt has some questionable pedagogy. Some of his out-of-the-box I read this book years ago, at the start of my teaching career. I can't remember if I was student teaching or if it was my first year, but nevertheless, I was a newbie. I actually started reading it again forgetting this was the Frank McCourt book I had read years ago. It took me about two pages to realize my mistake, but I figured I might as well finish it since I hadn't even remembered I had read it in the first place. McCourt no doubt has some questionable pedagogy. Some of his out-of-the-box lessons are clever while others are downright ridiculous. He wrote he felt guilty not sticking to the curriculum, but I suppose sometimes it takes risks to discover gold. I feel a little cheated because we never get to experience a typical day in his classroom...there's no way he had his students reciting recipes every day throughout his decades of teaching. What did a regular day look like? He had to have touched on some of the curriculum throughout the year, but I suppose those stories may not have been as engaging. What I did not appreciate was his manner regarding his marriage. He nonchalantly writes about cheating on his wife, claiming that it was a marriage doomed from the start. Ummm, when did that make it okay to have affairs? And, what are these stories adding to this book? The best part about the book is the stories about students and their lives. I tell my students "teachers are people, too!" but maybe we sometimes forget that the same applies to our students. We see them in a bubble and make judgments based on their attentiveness in our class and their homework completion and perceived effort, but they have home lives and struggles, just like us. Oh sure, with the "troubled" kids, you can clearly see that there are outside forces pulling them from being a motivated student, but what about the others? I sometimes get jealous that other teachers get to know more about their students' outside worlds. English teachers have papers, art teachers see their pieces rife with emotion, religion teachers have journals...what about math teachers? We get to see word problems. It's hard to start deep, provocative discussions around the topic "how to solve for x"

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kerri

    I really loved Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, but Teacher Man, Frank McCourt's third book, was easily my favourite. Part of it was that, brilliant as they are, his first two book are heavy going. I was exhausted at the end of each one. Glad I had read them, but even more glad that we were at the end. His childhood was hard and depressing and something no one should have to go through, but I'd finish each book feeling almost overwhelmed by the fact that his childhood was (unfortunately) not uncommon. C I really loved Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, but Teacher Man, Frank McCourt's third book, was easily my favourite. Part of it was that, brilliant as they are, his first two book are heavy going. I was exhausted at the end of each one. Glad I had read them, but even more glad that we were at the end. His childhood was hard and depressing and something no one should have to go through, but I'd finish each book feeling almost overwhelmed by the fact that his childhood was (unfortunately) not uncommon. Countless people have experienced something similar. He wrote about it in a way that most of us could probably only dream of, and they are beautiful books that I recommend everyone read, but I was so pleased that we got to finish the story here. This book focuses entirely on his teaching career, lessons taught and learned. It's is wonderfully written, as is to be expected, but this one also felt lighter, a bit freer. There is still darkness and self doubt and plenty of difficult things, but he is now at a point where he is doing something he is good at (even if he worries that he isn't good at it) and has a purpose in his life. I finished this feeling so pleased that he became a teacher, and even more pleased that he decided to write about it. I can think of few thing (that are not life threatening), that intimidate me more than the idea of having to stand in front of a class of teenagers and try to teach them, have them listen and understand. As I think a lot of people are being reminded as they take over schooling during lockdown, not everyone can teach -- and it's even harder to be a good teacher. As ever, I appreciated Frank McCourt's frankness here - the things that worked, the things that didn't, the self-doubt, the days when you just don't care. But also the highs of a discussion where everyone participates, that breakthrough moment in helping someone to understand, the moments that make it worthwhile. I had delayed starting this book because I wasn't sure I felt like reading another heavy volume, however stunning the writing may be. I simply wasn't in the mood to feel such despair toward humanity -- I only have to look at the news right now to feel that! For whatever reason though, I did start reading this, and it was a lovely addition to my day. I spent a lot of time thinking about the excellent teachers I have been lucky enough to have over the years and also a lot of time being grateful for the book I was holding. It turned out to be the perfect book to read right now, for me at least, and I'm very thankful that I had a copy with me. Highly recommended, but make sure you read Angela's Ashes first, then 'Tis, then this one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    After reading Angela’s Ashes, I wanted to read the second volume of the McCourt series. I was interested to see what became of young Frank after he left his poor childhood years in Ireland and went to America. But it turns out that book is out of print and not available at my library. So I jumped to the third volume, which covers Frank’s years as a teacher in several NY highschools. This is, of course, a very different book from Angela’s Ashes, but I still liked it a lot. This is not just a journ After reading Angela’s Ashes, I wanted to read the second volume of the McCourt series. I was interested to see what became of young Frank after he left his poor childhood years in Ireland and went to America. But it turns out that book is out of print and not available at my library. So I jumped to the third volume, which covers Frank’s years as a teacher in several NY highschools. This is, of course, a very different book from Angela’s Ashes, but I still liked it a lot. This is not just a journal of a teacher struggling to get through to his students despite the limitations of the state's bureaucracy and the parent’s expectations for good grades, but also a portrait of the US, through the lives of hundreds of students. A sad thing to realise is that although this book covers the 1950ies and 60ies, many of the problems it talks about are still present in today’s schools. On a side note, having homeschooled my children during primary school, I felt a special connection with the writer whenever he wrote about his doubts and insecurities about his classes and teaching methods: “(...) other English teachers were teaching solid stuff, analyzing poetry, assigning research papers and giving lessons on the correct use of footnotes and bibliography. Thinking of those other English teachers and the solid stuff makes me uneasy again. They’re following the curriculum, preparing the kids for higher education and the great world beyond. We’re not here to enjoy ourselves, teacher man.” Now looking back, many years after, I am so glad about all we did and the fun we had.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fred Gorrell

    The first chapter of this book is so exquisite that I have caught myself rehearsing it as a possible public reading many times. Mr. McCourt describes his first day as a new teacher standing before a class of hardened urban students. It bristles with irony and suspense comparable to great classic comedy scenes. I read the book for the first time shortly after it was published, at the end of my first year as a teacher, and identified with Mr. McCourt's predicament completely. If only I had managed The first chapter of this book is so exquisite that I have caught myself rehearsing it as a possible public reading many times. Mr. McCourt describes his first day as a new teacher standing before a class of hardened urban students. It bristles with irony and suspense comparable to great classic comedy scenes. I read the book for the first time shortly after it was published, at the end of my first year as a teacher, and identified with Mr. McCourt's predicament completely. If only I had managed to respond to my situation with the humanity and wisdom he brought to his! Throughout this memoir, Mr. McCourt shares one anecdote after another to paint vivid pictures of the wonderfully idiomatic students he engaged over the years. For many of these students, school as it is structured in modern America is largely disconnected from the rest of what comprises their reality. As they are unable to draw a connection between school and that reality, they see no path through school to a better life, and they exercise apparently sound economic decision making by allocating minimal effort. Mr. McCourt's efforts to help students find a path through education to a better future were instructional and inspirational. This is a book that often comes up when teachers are together discussing their calling. It paints a true picture of modern urban schools and provides relevant and important information about the challenges we face when we are called to "leave no child behind." The book can be an inspiration to those who teach in urban settings and a source of new understanding for those who puzzle at today's debate on education in America.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    McCourt has a compelling style of writing, an extraordinarily masculine style (I don't know what this means exactly, but if I were ever to try to pin down what I thought made for "masculine" writing, I'd definitely look at McCourt's book, if only to avoid the traditional recourse to Hemingway). One thing that was nice about it was that it was a memoir that happened to be about a period in his life when he was a teacher -- i.e. that happened to be about teaching. It clearly wasn't a "teacher mem McCourt has a compelling style of writing, an extraordinarily masculine style (I don't know what this means exactly, but if I were ever to try to pin down what I thought made for "masculine" writing, I'd definitely look at McCourt's book, if only to avoid the traditional recourse to Hemingway). One thing that was nice about it was that it was a memoir that happened to be about a period in his life when he was a teacher -- i.e. that happened to be about teaching. It clearly wasn't a "teacher memoir" in the traditional sense. McCourt came off as a compelling teacher, because he is almost certainly a compelling storyteller and a compelling person to listen to. It was clear he did some good things in his classroom. But, to me at least, he didn't seem as annoyingly perfect or pedantic as other teachers I read in teacher school. He also (refreshingly) refuses to analyze or justify many of his most compelling (and strange) moments of pedagogy. There were almost certainly students who were ill-served by McCourt and who couldn't stand him. There were also years when I imagine he wasn't a very good teacher. And, of course, there were surely many students he made a great impact on and many more who dearly loved him. In the end what drove this forward was the mixture of classic teacher-man stories (think Dead Poet Society) and McCourt's brisk, snappy sections of teacher/student dialog. I guess I also fundamentally share McCourt's main teaching insight, which is that it's hard to represent "the system", that it makes sense when kids resist authority and that often you most sympathize (and even like) the very kids you have to reprimand for wasting the class's time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    A side note: Frank McCourt (1930-2009) was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Irish immigrant parents, grew up in Limerick, Ireland, and returned to America in 1949. For thirty years he taught in New York City high schools. His first book, "Angela's Ashes," won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the L.A. Times Book Award. In 2006, he won the prestigious Ellis Island Family Heritage Award for Exemplary Service in the Field of the Arts and the United Federation of Teachers A side note: Frank McCourt (1930-2009) was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Irish immigrant parents, grew up in Limerick, Ireland, and returned to America in 1949. For thirty years he taught in New York City high schools. His first book, "Angela's Ashes," won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the L.A. Times Book Award. In 2006, he won the prestigious Ellis Island Family Heritage Award for Exemplary Service in the Field of the Arts and the United Federation of Teachers John Dewey Award for Excellence in Education. There are teacher and then there are the kind of teacher that Frank McCourt was. Here he tells of his 30-year career teaching English in New York City high schools. He was scared to death on his first day…and who wouldn’t be, facing a room of 16-year-olds at McKee Vocational and Technical High School on Staten Island, where his job was to teach five English classes per day to teenagers who were never expected to go any higher than 12th grade…if that. The year was 1958 and Frank McCourt was 27 years old and just out of New York University himself. One doesn’t have to be a teacher to appreciate his account of how reading the students’ obviously self-authored absence excuses inspired him to create a composition assignment they couldn’t resist: write a note of excuse from Adam to God. I would have loved to have tacked that one. At 38, he left for a doctoral program at Dublin’s Trinity College, returning two years later without a degree. That is a story for another book. He relates two of his most memorable teaching experiences… a vocabulary lesson involving a picnic in the park with ethnic foods brought by students in his creative-writing class, and a recipe-as-poetry class in which students read recipes aloud to the accompaniment of assorted musical instruments. As I said there are teachers and then there are teachers like Frank McCourt. If you read his memoirs’ you’ll be more than just entertained…you’ll be enlightened.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dusty

    Frank McCourt: The Irish-American Larry McMurtry? I ended up with mixed feelings about this book. I loved -- no, adored -- the first section of this wry, honest memoir. The second section was solid, also, but felt a little out of place. (My reaction: What? McCourt's in Dublin drinking, cheating on his wife, and not getting the doctorate he's supposed to be working on? What does this have to do with his high school teaching career?) The third section returns to and wraps up his teaching career. I Frank McCourt: The Irish-American Larry McMurtry? I ended up with mixed feelings about this book. I loved -- no, adored -- the first section of this wry, honest memoir. The second section was solid, also, but felt a little out of place. (My reaction: What? McCourt's in Dublin drinking, cheating on his wife, and not getting the doctorate he's supposed to be working on? What does this have to do with his high school teaching career?) The third section returns to and wraps up his teaching career. It should be the climax, I guess, except that this is more memoir than novel, but what it really is, is too swift. The quotes on the back cover say Teacher Man is the best in McCourt's trilogy (meaning it supposedly surpasses the Pullitzer Prize-winning Angela's Ashes). Now, I have not read the two previous memoirs, but if McCourt's too-brief conclusion to Teacher Man leaves me hanging after one 250-page book, I have to wonder if I wouldn't have liked it even less if it were the capper to THREE 250-page books. Still, Teacher Man is impossible not to recommend.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    This is my favourite of Frank McCourt's books. I found Angela's Ashes just too unremittingly bleak. Teacher Man is not all about teaching as it tells of how he lives in New York before accidentally becoming a teacher. Anyone who's ever been in a classroom and especially teachers will 'enjoy' his descriptions of being in a room with a group of kids who would rather eat dirt than listen to him. But he succeeds through his having 'kissed the Blarney Stone' and tells tales (mostly true) of his life. This is my favourite of Frank McCourt's books. I found Angela's Ashes just too unremittingly bleak. Teacher Man is not all about teaching as it tells of how he lives in New York before accidentally becoming a teacher. Anyone who's ever been in a classroom and especially teachers will 'enjoy' his descriptions of being in a room with a group of kids who would rather eat dirt than listen to him. But he succeeds through his having 'kissed the Blarney Stone' and tells tales (mostly true) of his life. McCourt writes with the honesty of someone who has actually done all he writes of. His advice to a new teacher is great: 'You have to make yourself comfortable in the classroom. You have to be selfish.' Fabulous book......And I just read it again for the third time. It restores my faith in the value of teaching and the idiocy of those who decide on education policy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I do not like this book. I thought, "He's a teacher, I'm a teacher. I should read it," and "He wrote 'Angela's Ashes' which people seem to like, so I'll read it." I wish I'd left it alone. I actually bought the book for someone else, but then I decided to read it myself and give her something else. I'm glad I didn't give it as a gift. Frank McCourt was a high school teacher in New York and is an immigrant from......Ireland! He was actually born in America, but his family moves to Ireland, and he I do not like this book. I thought, "He's a teacher, I'm a teacher. I should read it," and "He wrote 'Angela's Ashes' which people seem to like, so I'll read it." I wish I'd left it alone. I actually bought the book for someone else, but then I decided to read it myself and give her something else. I'm glad I didn't give it as a gift. Frank McCourt was a high school teacher in New York and is an immigrant from......Ireland! He was actually born in America, but his family moves to Ireland, and he moves back again. His writing makes it sound like he's really full of himself. I don't have a thing in common with this guy, as a person or as a teacher. I am really happy I don't teach in a big city, though, and this book showed me that. McCourt seems quite self-obsessed in this book. I couldn't even finish it! I only made it to part 3, and it's been sitting on my dresser ever since, collecting dust.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    Angela's Ashes is Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer prize-winner, but I’ve been attracted to this lesser-known memoir of his since I heard him promoting it on NPR years ago. His younger brother Malachy is also a favorite guest on NPR shows; I’ve heard him read two of his short stories on “Selected Shorts.” One of them was about an Irish doorman working in a Manhattan luxury building on Christmas, and it was absolutely hilarious. I admit I got the two brothers mixed up, but this book set me straight. Both Angela's Ashes is Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer prize-winner, but I’ve been attracted to this lesser-known memoir of his since I heard him promoting it on NPR years ago. His younger brother Malachy is also a favorite guest on NPR shows; I’ve heard him read two of his short stories on “Selected Shorts.” One of them was about an Irish doorman working in a Manhattan luxury building on Christmas, and it was absolutely hilarious. I admit I got the two brothers mixed up, but this book set me straight. Both of them are funny and incredibly talented. Even without the author’s voice reading the book aloud, you can hear the Irish brogue just from the writing. The laughs begin right away, too. As a young, inexperienced teacher, Mr. McCourt has a sandwich thrown at him on his very first day of class. Establishing control is the bane of many a teacher, and Mr. McCourt has mere seconds to show what kind of teacher he is going to be. Will he be strict and yell at the kid? Will he ignore it and be perceived as weak? Actually, he does neither. His reaction is so off-beat, he takes the kids completely by surprise and wins them over. In so doing, he wins over his readers, too. The rest of the book chronicles his growth as a teacher. He starts off at a vocational school with unmotivated students who need discipline and ends up at the elite Stuyvesant High School where the students demand quality teaching. Along the way, he reminisces about his childhood in Ireland and tells us about his failed marriage and brief return to the Old Country. Another Goodreader didn’t like the dips into McCourt’s personal life and wishes the book would have just stayed in the classroom. I can see the point, certainly about the failed marriage, which was the least interesting part of the book. But his pre-teaching days, particularly the overly strict Catholic education and the years spent working the docks, gave the book context. He was successful with his working class students, including some of the Stuyvesant students, because they knew he came from a world similar to theirs. The Stuyvesant section was definitely my favorite part, not just because he had mastered his style as a teacher by then but because he was teaching creative writing. He may have written Angela’s Ashes first, but some of the hints to its origins are in this book. Since I dream of teaching and writing, it was inevitable that I’d like this book, but Frank McCourt is such a skilled storyteller, I think anyone would like it. Then again, he says all of us are writers anyway. Perhaps we’re all teachers, too.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is an unabridged version, read by author, running for 9 hours. teacher man - frank mccourt - read by the author tbr busting 2013 winter 2012/2013 fraudio irish root memoir schoolzy pub 2005 hm, ok - 2* -------------------- 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 This is an unabridged version, read by author, running for 9 hours. teacher man - frank mccourt - read by the author tbr busting 2013 winter 2012/2013 fraudio irish root memoir schoolzy pub 2005 hm, ok - 2* -------------------- 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 resources 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. He earned a Teacher of the Year award in 1976. 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 promptly leave him for other men, difficulties in his marriage, and a brief period of psychoanalytic treatment. These failures are compensated by successes, albeit often grudging and incomplete, in the classroom. Wikipedia Read by the author

  18. 5 out of 5

    Helga Cohen

    The 3rd book of the Frank McCourt series is an inspiring book about his 30 year teaching career. It describes how he found his voice by teaching Creative Writing and all of the other classes he taught in the many different schools he taught. It was in the last school he taught as a teacher for creative writing, after 30 years of teaching, that was instrumental for him write his first highly popular book, Angela's Ashes about his childhood in Ireland. I recommend this book as part of the series o The 3rd book of the Frank McCourt series is an inspiring book about his 30 year teaching career. It describes how he found his voice by teaching Creative Writing and all of the other classes he taught in the many different schools he taught. It was in the last school he taught as a teacher for creative writing, after 30 years of teaching, that was instrumental for him write his first highly popular book, Angela's Ashes about his childhood in Ireland. I recommend this book as part of the series of his life.

  19. 4 out of 5

    John

    Almost As Good As "Angela's Ashes" McCourties of the world rejoice! You have nothing to lose but your tears of woe anticipating when he'd return with his next book; the foremost memoirist of our time is back. Frank McCourt's "Teacher Man" is a spellbinding lyrical ode to the craft of teaching. It is a rollicking, delightful trek across nearly thirty years in New York City public school classrooms that will surely please his devout legion of fans, and perhaps win some new admirers too. Truly, with Almost As Good As "Angela's Ashes" McCourties of the world rejoice! You have nothing to lose but your tears of woe anticipating when he'd return with his next book; the foremost memoirist of our time is back. Frank McCourt's "Teacher Man" is a spellbinding lyrical ode to the craft of teaching. It is a rollicking, delightful trek across nearly thirty years in New York City public school classrooms that will surely please his devout legion of fans, and perhaps win some new admirers too. Truly, without question, it is a splendid concluding volume in his trilogy of memoirs that began in spectacular fashion with "Angela's Ashes". Indeed, we find much of the same plain, yet rather poetic, prose and rich dark humor that defines his first book, along with his undiminished, seemingly timeless, skill as a mesmerizing raconteur. Is McCourt truly now one of the great writers of our time if he isn't already, with the publication of "Teacher Man"? I will say only that he was a marvellous teacher (I still feel lucky to have been a prize-winning student of his.), and that this new memoir truly captures the spirit of what it was like to be a student in his classroom. "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.). Frank manages to break every rule learned in his Education courses at New York University, but he succeeds in motivating his students, raising the craft of excuse note writing to a high literary art. He finds time too to fall in love with his first wife, Alberta Small, and then earn a M. A. degree in English from Brooklyn College. Part II (Donkey on a Thistle) has the funniest tale; an unbelievable odyssey to a Times Square movie theater with Frank as chaperone to an unruly tribe of thirty Seward Park High School girls. But before we get there, we're treated to a spellbinding account of his all too brief time as an adjunct lecturer of English at Brooklyn's New York Community College, and of another short stint at Fashion Industries High School, where he receives a surprising, and poignant, reminder from his past. Soon Frank will forsake high school teaching, sail off to Dublin, and enroll in a doctoral program at Trinity College, in pursuit of a thesis on Irish-American literature. But, that too fails, and with Alberta pregnant, he accepts an offer to become a substitute teacher at prestigious Stuyvesant High School (The nation's oldest high school devoted to the sciences and mathematics; its alumni now include four Nobel Prize laureates in chemistry, medicine and economics; for more information please look at my ABOUT ME section, or at history at www.stuy.edu or famous alumni at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuyvesant_High... or Notables at www.ourstrongband.org.). Surprisingly, Part III (Coming Alive in Room 205) is the shortest section of "Teacher Man". After having spent fifteen years teaching at Stuyvesant High School, you'd think that this would be this memoir's longest section, replete with many tales rich in mirth (Room 205, located a few doors from the principal's office, was Frank's room throughout his years teaching full-time at Stuyvesant High School.). Indeed I'm surprised that it is so brief. Yet there is still ample fodder for Frank's lyrical prose to dwell on, most notably a hilarious episode on cookbooks and how he taught his creative writing class to write recipes for them. He describes with equal doses of hilarity and eloquence, his unique style of teaching at Stuyvesant, which he compares and contrasts with math teachers Philip Fisher and Edward Marcantonio - the dark and good sides of Stuyvesant mathematics education in the 1970s and 1980s (I was a student of both and will let the reader decide who was my teacher while I was a student in Frank's creative writing class.) - but he still implies that his students were having the most fun. Will "Teacher Man" earn the same critical acclaim bestowed upon "Angela's Ashes"? Who knows? Is it deserving of it? I think the answer is a resounding yes. Regardless, Frank's many devout fans - his flock of McCourties - will cherish this book as yet another inspirational tale from the foremost memoirist of our time. (EDITORIAL NOTE 7/22/09: Elsewhere online I posted this tribute to my favorite high school teacher, and I think it is worth noting here: I've been fortunate to have had many fine teachers in high school, college and graduate school, but there was no one like Frank McCourt. Without a doubt, he was the most inspirational, most compelling, and the funniest, teacher I ever had. I am still grateful to him for instilling in me a life-long love of literature and a keen interest in writing prose. Am still amazed that he encouraged me to enter a citywide essay contest on New York City's waterfront, and would, more than a year later, in my senior yearbook acknowledge my second prize award by thanking me for winning him money (His was also, not surprisingly, the most eloquent set of comments I had inscribed in my yearbook from teachers.). He is gone now, but I am sure that for me, and for many of my fellow alumni of his Stuyvesant High School classes, he will live in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives.) (Resposted from my 2005 Amazon review)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stela

    I've always loved to read about teachers' experiences and methods, so Frank Court's Teacher Man perfectly matched my horizon of expectations, so to speak. It was emotional, entertaining, interesting and, of course, instructive. I especially liked the apparently random memories, and the fact that he insists upon personal events only when they have an impact on his teaching. I think it would have been a joy to see him in front of his students with his unorthodox but such efficient method of teachi I've always loved to read about teachers' experiences and methods, so Frank Court's Teacher Man perfectly matched my horizon of expectations, so to speak. It was emotional, entertaining, interesting and, of course, instructive. I especially liked the apparently random memories, and the fact that he insists upon personal events only when they have an impact on his teaching. I think it would have been a joy to see him in front of his students with his unorthodox but such efficient method of teaching that his students didn't even know they were taught. P.S. I definitely have to read Angela's Ashes!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Zara

    This memoir made me miss teaching, and writing, and being a student, and Stuyvesant High School, and all of my wonderful and weird and thoughtful and mysterious and empathetic English teachers throughout the years. And now I'll greatly miss listening to Frank McCourt on my daily walks around my newly strange neighborhood.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Roberta

    i'm fascinated, as usual by the negative reviews of this book. ive never read anything that spoke to me about teaching the way this book did, and about the rest of the stuff we're all to deal with in general. perhaps the people who dont get it arent rebels at heart...perhaps they are individuals who havent had a boss scold them or perhaps theyve just always felt in control. but i am grateful for this book, and moreso for frank mc court writing about everything he chose to detail in all three, an i'm fascinated, as usual by the negative reviews of this book. ive never read anything that spoke to me about teaching the way this book did, and about the rest of the stuff we're all to deal with in general. perhaps the people who dont get it arent rebels at heart...perhaps they are individuals who havent had a boss scold them or perhaps theyve just always felt in control. but i am grateful for this book, and moreso for frank mc court writing about everything he chose to detail in all three, angela's ashes, tis, and teacher man with the voice with which he chose to portray them - humor. its humor, its all humor, which apparently some people didnt get... im sure we all gravitate towards books that speak about our own experiences and from our own view point. so other than not being irish, ive dealt with alcholic loved ones, and being misunderstood and fired at work, and mostly, teaching the hardest population to teach, which i do in juvenile hall and camp in los angeles. after wondering about how long it was going to be so hard...i found my copy of teacher man and skimmed through it - there it was, the scene about what you find in the classroom with the doo-whoppers in the back of the room singing...as nowadays we have "rappers" who not only constantly rap, but beat on the desk. and of course my favorite, the story of the sandwich on his first day, AND getting scolded by the principal, AND then bonding with his students over it. exactly which part of this book didn't people get? and condescending it certainly IS NOT. I LOVE YOU FRANK MC COURT, FOR GIVING ME PEACE OF MIND AND REMINDING ME THAT I SHOULD ALWAYS, ALWAYS WALK INTO THAT CLASSROOM WITH MY SENSE OF HUMOR IN TACT. Any teacher who walks in the room with out one, well you might think you are a "grand" teacher, but in the end, the best teachers are the ones who simply love their students, therefore love being a teacher. especially an english teacher because the meaning is always more important than the spelling or punctuation...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I really wanted to love this book. Having just qualified as a teacher, it very much appealed to read a novel about somebody from a deprived background falling almost accidentally into the teaching profession in New York without being remotely prepared for what he has let himself in for. The first few chapters delivered exactly what I wanted - inspirational quotations about teaching, about how misunderstood the profession is and the common assumptions that get thrown around regarding the amount o I really wanted to love this book. Having just qualified as a teacher, it very much appealed to read a novel about somebody from a deprived background falling almost accidentally into the teaching profession in New York without being remotely prepared for what he has let himself in for. The first few chapters delivered exactly what I wanted - inspirational quotations about teaching, about how misunderstood the profession is and the common assumptions that get thrown around regarding the amount of time off teachers get. It was quite gratifying to know that even in 1950s New York, this was the same as it is today. But as the novel went on, and McCourt documents his journey through the profession and the various schools which he finds himself working in, it started to get a little dull, and by the last 50 pages I was skim reading large chunks of it. Enjoyable in parts, but a bit of a drag to get through. Not really got much else to say about it which I think shows that it did not have a great effect on me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    An amusing book and the author can to spin a good yarn. It is noble that he sings the praises of being a teacher for it is a profession well worthy of being written of. However there are times where he seems self-absorbed and draws too much attention to himself (Woody Allen style). The book can be a little too much of “McCourt and his students” instead of being “the students and McCourt”. There is self-centredness of how the students feel about the author. The writing can be wonderful when he foc An amusing book and the author can to spin a good yarn. It is noble that he sings the praises of being a teacher for it is a profession well worthy of being written of. However there are times where he seems self-absorbed and draws too much attention to himself (Woody Allen style). The book can be a little too much of “McCourt and his students” instead of being “the students and McCourt”. There is self-centredness of how the students feel about the author. The writing can be wonderful when he focuses on the students rather than on his personal feelings. There are needless tangents, like his trip back to Ireland. Plus some of the tales seem to spin out of control (exaggeration, embellished) – the hyperbole of whom he slept with on his ocean crossing to Ireland for one thing. These anecdotes should have been saved for a novel.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    I had read this one before, but decided to listen to the audio version from the library because #1 it's good, and #2 it's read by the author. Hearing the author made it even better the second time around. His accent is great, and his sense of humor comes through better on the audio. A couple times, as he tells a story, he chuckles, and it's so great I had to rewind to hear it again.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Lamb

    There is something comforting in knowing that students were always apathetic and wanting distraction.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mary Blye Kramer

    There is no other way of seeing McCourt than as a master and genius. He has such a unique and wonderful and engaging writing style. I felt all the joys and frustrations of being a teacher right alongside him, although I’ve never been a teacher. To think he spent his life with high school kids that I’d probably have choked to death - then went on to write three PERFECT books in his 60s and 70s. Wow. This was a great book. No surprise.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Greg Morrison

    I read Teacher Man on a whim. I read Angela's Ashes seemingly in a past life, and scarcely remember much of it. Did he throw up his communion wafers, & did the priest chastise him for rejecting the body of Christ? And do I remember him having to lick it up? Was there also some closing section that involved the long death of a sweetheart to tuberculosis, or am I confusing that with Van Morrison's "T.B. Sheets"? Teacher Man doesn't demand extensive knowledge of Frank McCourt's other two memoirs, an I read Teacher Man on a whim. I read Angela's Ashes seemingly in a past life, and scarcely remember much of it. Did he throw up his communion wafers, & did the priest chastise him for rejecting the body of Christ? And do I remember him having to lick it up? Was there also some closing section that involved the long death of a sweetheart to tuberculosis, or am I confusing that with Van Morrison's "T.B. Sheets"? Teacher Man doesn't demand extensive knowledge of Frank McCourt's other two memoirs, and could easily stand as its own work. McCourt records his experiences in education - trying to get a job, trying to get certified, getting advanced degrees, realizing he's not good, realizing he might be good, and finally realizing that maybe the job he was half-heartedly doing was his calling. McCourt is unusually honest, and unsentimental, about the experience of teaching. I'm pretty tired of the Dead Poets' Society version of teaching - where you tear the pages out of the book, where each kid is a romantic poet waiting to be born out of the welter of adolescence. McCourt describes the fears every classroom teacher has - can I keep control? What will they do next? What if I run out of things to do with them? How do I win over a kid that wants to fight me? How do I manage to discuss personal & intimate things with these confused people, and yet maintain the right boundaries? He talks a lot about the anxieties of teaching, and the rewards, but he also spends a surprising amount of time talking about his personal relationships - his girlfriends, his wife, his mentors. It was refreshing to see a teacher that didn't retreat to a cat-laden apartment and tend the mould growing on his personality. Years and years of treating children as a fragile endangered species have restricted who you're allowed to be as a teacher. According to this idea, you should especially avoid being yourself. But McCourt shows that there's no way to teach without using personal experience. And most of all, you can't show kids how to know something without knowing who you are. I would've liked to have seen more of his classroom dilemmas - perhaps selfishly, because I want to see how someone else solves them. McCourt is right - when you're teaching, the classroom has little to do with pedagogical theories or trends. It's relationships between individuals. And there's nowhere to hide.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chana

    I enjoyed reading about Frank McCourt's time in the classrooms of New York. Of course I've read Angela's Ashes, and I read his brother Malachy's autobiography, I knew Mr. McCourt had become a teacher. I STILL found this painful reading; this is Frank McCourt and his past is present in his writing, in fact he spends quite a bit of classroom time talking about his miserable Irish childhood. He tells us he talks about it, he doesn't actually spend very much book time talking about it. But the subje I enjoyed reading about Frank McCourt's time in the classrooms of New York. Of course I've read Angela's Ashes, and I read his brother Malachy's autobiography, I knew Mr. McCourt had become a teacher. I STILL found this painful reading; this is Frank McCourt and his past is present in his writing, in fact he spends quite a bit of classroom time talking about his miserable Irish childhood. He tells us he talks about it, he doesn't actually spend very much book time talking about it. But the subject tends to fascinate his students, and the kids enjoy storytelling more than they like school assignments. So even as Frank McCourt entertains us with his stories of teaching in New York high schools, he also tells of us his insecurities and self-criticism, his failures and his sins. All of that self-recrimination rang in me like a struck bell. Frank McCourt is funny, successful, he is a survivor. This book didn't hurt as bad as Angela's Ashes, I cried for about a month with that one, but still; I am feeling pain and I don't want to. I suppose there must be some pain in me that matches with the pain in Frank McCourt that is causing this resonating vibrato of pain. The book is certainly not all sorrow; as I said, he is funny and really is a masterful teacher in a non-traditional manner. I think his students were fortunate to have him as a teacher and he was fortunate to have them as students.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    In Teacher Man, Frank McCourt relates his thirty-five year experiences as a classroom English teacher. He tells it in a straightforward simplistic style that lets the reader gain insight into what many classroom teachers in inner city schools face, teaching five classes of thirty-five students from diverse backgrounds, dealing with all the other things that are required in addition to teaching. His first days as a new teacher he becomes victim of his storytelling prowess. It doesn’t take long fo In Teacher Man, Frank McCourt relates his thirty-five year experiences as a classroom English teacher. He tells it in a straightforward simplistic style that lets the reader gain insight into what many classroom teachers in inner city schools face, teaching five classes of thirty-five students from diverse backgrounds, dealing with all the other things that are required in addition to teaching. His first days as a new teacher he becomes victim of his storytelling prowess. It doesn’t take long for his students to use this as a way to distract him from the lessons he is prepared to teach. He tells them of his life in Ireland; his problems in school, and the jobs he held before becoming a teacher. He relates to them and their parents and the students open up to him. Still he discovers ways to get through to the students on whatever level they happen to be. Since he teaches in a vocational school, most of his students are not going to college. He encounters problems with some of the administrators at the schools where he teachers. He gets his masters in English and gets a position as an adjunct lecturer at Brooklyn Community College. Instead of five classes of English each day, he teaches five classes each week. “I am in Heaven,” though his salary is cut in half. This lasts a year. He goes back to teaching high school. Through the years he learns much. This is an engaging autobiography told with self-deprecating humor and insight. Having been in the trenches, I can relate.

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