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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Teacher Man — Book Review

While I have a few of the more-formal-than-I-wanted reviews still saved and ready to post when needed, Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man will kick-off my new, even more casual reviews. McCourt offers an incredibly accessible, easy-to-read autobiography focusing on his days as a teacher in New York.

At first I found McCourt a touch bitter about his teaching days, but more likely he was accurately portraying his younger self. Having grown up in Ireland, he seemed a bit appalled by an American generation that wasn’t chomping at the bit to soak up his lessons. But by the end, he seemed to be a truly caring, yet realistic teacher balancing the intensity of five classes of teenagers a day with the necessity of keeping them at a distance.

Having known a few teachers on quasi-personal levels, and just recently starting some work for a school district with the hope of getting mildly involved on the classroom level, I read this surprise Christmas gift with plenty of interest. McCourt gives a genuine feel of the daily grind teaching must be, and the comrade that can occur between teacher and student, especially when administrators are around.

The antidotal style, though causing some problems in following McCourt’s progression in years and experience, helps keep the reading easy. Some great stories about individual students, along with a surprising perspective of a teacher as a class drifts from his control, makes Teacher Man worth reading.

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