Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This blog post is to commemorate Frank McCourt, a loving, giving teacher and writer who passed away over the weekend. McCourt is known for writing three famous memoirs, two of which I have read: Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, and Teacher Man.
McCourt had a troubled life early on, as depicted in his first memoir Angela's Ashes, as he faced deaths of his siblings, starvation, and eventually immigration to the United States. His assimilation wasn't the easiest, as described in 'Tis. And then, after he returned from the army and studied at New York University, McCourt became a teacher in New York City schools and taught for thirty years, as documented in his book Teacher Man. In Teacher Man, McCourt describes the hardships of being a new teacher, especially in an urban environment, and I'm sure that his book has acted as a helping guide to new teachers like myself.
McCourt is a true, dedicated English teacher, if one can ever make such a claim. He dedicated his life to teaching and writing--two passions of the English teacher. Once he retired, he started writing his memoirs which earned him small fame and recognition. I give him a lot of credit for working after he retired from teaching, for writing is a lot more work than I think a lot of people understand. I'm glad that he was able to document his life in his books, for he had some great stories to tell, and he's touched a lot of people in the process.
I know that the high school I graduated from teaches Angela's Ashes in an Irish Literature course. So, McCourt's already made his way back into the classroom. And I'm sure that education courses around the country use his book as an introduction to teaching. My grad class used The Water Is Wide, which is now becoming a bit outdated, but I could see any class switching to Teacher Man. It's just as important and relevant.
I was sad to hear McCourt pass over the weekend, but even though he wasn't dealt the best cards in life, he still seemed to try to learn from them, grow from them, and get over them. He taught others, especially using his own life experience, and didn't sulk in the horrors of his life. He is a true, inspiring man to learn from. We don't always have to wallow in what life brings for us. McCourt shows us that good can come from the bad. Just read his memoirs. This common idea will come out.
So, this one is to Frank McCourt. I thank him for his service to students and education and to writing. He was a good man, and I'm sure he will be missed.
What do you think of Frank McCourt?