Teacher Man is Frank McCourt’s final memoir, the story of a man who spent thirty years teaching English in four New York public high schools. McCourt also taught high school ESL classes and spent a year teaching community college. Teacher Man possesses a loose structure of chapters comprised of anecdotes: recollections of classes, students, and the unique problems teachers face. The structure is a bit haphazard although it works. McCourt’s voice is conversational, affable, lyrical, irreverent, and matter-of-fact. The structure and McCourt’s voice both follow the function of his memoir. What is the function? To humor and inform; in some ways Teacher Man is also a how-to guide for aspiring teachers.
McCourt arrives at Mckee Vocational and Technical High School in the fifties and discovers he’s way over his head. Thirty years later students and parents at Stuyvesant High School are literally begging for admittance to his overbooked creative writing courses. Teacher Man, McCourt’s last memoir, is somber, heartbreaking, heartwarming, sharp, and inspiring; it’s unfortunate that McCourt only wrote three memoirs.
Review Submitted by: Kevin Oldfield
Rating: Must Read