Gary Brecht's Reviews > Teacher Man

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
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's review
Sep 23, 2009

it was amazing

They say “those who can’t, teach.” Francis McCourt proves to be the exception to that cliché. A Pulitzer Prize winner for his first book, Angela’s Ashes, McCourt spins the tale of an Irish immigrant whose road to assimilation takes a different path than the usual work on the docks or in the sweat boxes of the northeast. McCourt chooses the teaching profession in Brooklyn, New York. We see him struggling as he encounters the indifference and defiance of teens from the poorer sections of the city. He places us in his classroom as he handles the challenges offered by high school students who are unmotivated. He is a teacher facing thirty kids in five classes a day. What the reader learns is that there are no hard and fast rules for surviving this hostile environment. One has to find one’s own way. McCourt succeeds sufficiently enough to be invited to teach English at one of New York City’s most prestigious high schools.

You will be entertained by the ways in which McCourt discovers, through trial and error, how to kindle within his students the desire to learn. And near the end of his tale we see him retiring from a long teaching career as a creative writing instructor who never has written a book…until he turned sixty-three. It’s a remarkable story.

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