I recently finished Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. McCourt is apparently also the author of Pulitzer Prize winner Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis. I don’t know much about those two, but I found Teacher Man to be a compelling autobiography of one random man’s struggle to make a difference in the lives of American teenagers (gasp).
A little slow at times, McCourt takes great liberty with weaving memoirs of his “miserable childhood in Ireland” with absolutely show-stopping classroom moments of brilliance. Aside from the fact that he spent 30 years of his life in public high schools of New York, I find him most admirable for crafting one of the most honest autobiographies I have ever read. Usually the absence of proper punctuation is a source of contention for me, but McCourt’s frank and unapologetic punctuation-free recollections of his experiences ease the reader away from the importance of what is “proper” to content that is meaningful.
Having said that, this book is not really a must-read for every teacher. The use of profanity and occasional graphic descriptions of sexual encounters (McCourt’s position is that teachers do it, too.) will be enough to scare away the classic ultra-conservative educator. Peer through those few oddly inappropriate excerpts and discover McCourt’s secrets of accomplishing the impossible task of catching the attention of teenagers.
As a matter of fact, regardless of your profession, I would highly recommend this to anyone. If and when you read it, chime in with your thoughts!