Teacher Man by Frank McCourt – A Book Review

I avoided this book like the plague for as long as I could until my brother-in-law bought it for me last Christmas.  Many people told me I would love it because it was basically my life (without the illicit behavior, of course), which is why I tried to keep away.  However, my loyalty to my wife’s brother dictated I make use of his gift, and so read it I did.

I’ve been teaching high school English for about six years now.  Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it.  I hoped McCourt’s memoir detailing his experiences as an English teacher for thirty years would serve inspirational and motivate me to press on.  It didn’t.

I think it’s because of this that the book rather succeeds.  He doesn’t pull any punches.  He talks about how teaching can completely wear you away to a shadow of your former self, but he also talks about those triumphs that occasionally take place in the classroom.  Best of all, he doesn’t give a fairy tale version of what teaching is like.  He doesn’t pretend he was super-teacher with no personal problems of his own.  In fact, he is quite candid in talking about affairs and other inappropriate behavior, both in and out of the classroom.

I know memoirs can be juiced up a bit, but I think this is about as true to life as a memoir can get for a retired teacher looking back over a thirty year career.  I think everyone should read this book to, if nothing else, get some idea of what it’s like to be on the other side of the desk. 

But, prepare yourself-McCourt candy coats nothing.

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