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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt - My Review

I believe as we grow older, our lives become filled with memories; some joyous and and some regrets. One of my regrets is never having met Frank McCourt.

I read both Tis and Angela's Ashes when they very first came out and I recall how McCourt could tell a story that could make you laugh at one instant - and in the next - it could deliver such a melancholy moment filled with irony and pain.
Teacher Man is McCourt's memoir which recounts the stories covering the years inclusive of repatriated young adulthood and his range of experiences - as an adult - up to the point just prior to his writing of Angela's Ashes when he retired from teaching in New York. I found his stories to be effective in that they did not paint him in some heroic light. He told stories that were touching without being schmaltzy.

I wish I had met him because he seemed like a decent Human Being - in my book, such a reference sits among the highest of compliments I could ever give someone.
As I recently explained to a friend, the stars aligned recently that I was given an opportunity to tutor at-risk High School kids in Mathematics. They attend a local Charter, night-school whose aim is to utilize construction, engineering and architectural topics as the curriculum. As it turns out, I have had a modicum of success in getting through to these kids and I have been asked to assume more responsibilities since the teacher hired for the position didn't work out. Thus, at least for the short run, it looks like I am the night school Math teacher.

Feeling woefully under prepared, I decided to seek out books and materials that might help me to be of better service to my recently inherited clientele.
McCourt's book is one of the few that seem to have found their way to me and I really do appreciate it. He has a way of pointing out that real teaching goes on when a connection is made and that makes sense to me because in some way or another, all the jobs I've ever had have been of the variety where some form or other of pedagogy was involved. I am not certain whether our brains have the ability to seek out information germane to our respective wants or current conditions but I found so much of what McCourt had to say as helpful and full of wisdom.

Regardless of whatever the case may be, all I have to say is. 'thank you' to the man. Again, I so wish I had met him and gotten to know him as a person. Regardless, I take comfort in having his written work not only as human interest stories but as personal communiques that this Human Being took the time to reach out across the time-space continuum for future beneficiaries of such a remarkable rendition of his ordinary yet heroic life.


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