|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Started: Sept. 28, 2011
Finished: Oct. 5, 2011 (8 days)
Where Found: Xmas 2010 gift
Why Read: Being a teacher, I'm always on the lookout for books about teaching & until I came across this book (not previously knowing that Frank McCourt had been a teacher), I thought it would be interesting to read about his experiences.
Summary: A memoir by the author of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, the third in a trilogy, recalls his 30-year career teaching English and creative writing in New York vocational, technical, and trade-focused high schools.
When I was in teacher's college, a principal who mentored our group of teachers-to-be gave us a packet of information that included a stationary template titled "Teaching is Aardvark" with a poor aadvark grasping a pointer and its students standing on their heads. Yup, I've had days like that and so did Frank "Teacher Man" McCourt.
What was the most refreshing about this book is that his experiences aren't preachy, sugar-coated or self-satisfied vignettes. They don't even represent "coming full circle" as memoirs tend to show. McCourt understood how students on a path to technical vocations loathed bookish subjects such as English and how he had to ignore stubborn curricular directives from adminstration in order to strike a light under his students and keep them interested.
McCourt has numerous teaching stories, from taking his class to the park for a picnic of multicultural foods to spice up their vocabulary, accompanying the reading of cookbook recipes with musical instruments, and my personal favourite: eating a sandwich thrown on the floor much to the dismay of the students and swishing the wrapper into the wastebasket.
Thinking outside the box is not only a popular method of teaching in order to reach the kids, but McCourt simply accepts it as the only way to teach. He is not one to mince words with administration and has a modest outlook on his career. To "Teacher Man" he was only a listener and a silent partner. To the few students who told him so, whether in class or years later, he created highly unusual, unconventional experiences for them (and him) to not only write about but to remember that the best stories are lived experiences.
Rank: (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend