Teacher Man Essay

Teacher ManNote: **Second reflections are in italics in parentheses [].**Prologue 2/25/09Right at the start Frank McCourt seems like an angry man.  At his first sentence about a miserable childhood I am ready to feel sorry for him, but am instantly almost angry with him for being so bitter.  He begins to explain that he is expected be fulfilled by his years as a teacher but is not.  [I think this is making me feel angry or disappointed because I always imagined that my favorite teachers were happy and satisfied with their accomplishments. I knew they did not make much money but always considered that they were in teaching for another reason.

  Like they wanted to touch the lives of troubled students and steer untroubled students in the right direction.  Some grand ideals were a part of it all, like maybe wanting to mold the youth of America.]  His words seem bitter at first but as he explains his pronouncement I begin to understand more what he is trying to say, and I start to agree with him. [Here again I am trying to be fair and empathetic. It is one of my traits I am proud of …something I like about myself…always trying to see the other person’s side.]  Teachers are not appreciated as much as they should be, especially not back then when he was teaching.  Now there are awards and recognitions and tax breaks for teachers who buy their own classroom supplies.  [But then again who has time to make sure they get the recognition?  Really it is not always easy to only feel good about yourself to be satisfied.

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  I think this is McCourt’s point here. We can all fool ourselves and like ourselves and feel good about our accomplishments. But if they are never recognized or celebrated by anyone else it does hurt and it will bother us.

  Everyone seems to need a pat on the back from someone, especially someone they care about.  This brings me to the thoughts I had when McCourt went back to Dublin. He mentions dreaming to be honored as a returning hero and is disappointed.  He has examples of this throughout the story but it all comes down to one fact: that he, like me and anyone else, is seeking recognition for his accomplishments. Why, this book is a celebration of his accomplishments so that  he can share with the public; they can pour over them and he will finally be recognized!]  But McCourt feels he was not monetarily rewarded for his efforts as an educator, and I wholeheartedly agree. Even today this is an issue.  Why is it that these important people with these immense tasks of molding and educating our children are not rewarded monetarily?  [This is meant as a rhetorical question but I feel it is because public education is not getting the money and the funds it needs to.]   But McCourt makes me feel disappointed in him as he sarcastically comments on how he is expected to feel emotionally and mentally rewarded for reaching at least one youth.

  He mocks the dreams of teachers who dream of reaching one child and making a difference in at least one life.  I am not only disappointed but angry that he states ”Dream on, teacher. You will not be celebrated.”(McCourt, p5).  [ I feel this is an outward untrue statement.  I believe some teachers are celebrated and think it is unfair that McCourt has reflected his feelings upon all teachers, dashing their hopes to be celebrated by their students.]  I have had many teachers who have taught me more about myself and real life than the textbooks could.

Sure they taught me the theories and the facts, but my most remembered and effective teachers attempted to apply that to my real life and encouraged me to see my own personal talents.  McCourt is making me feel cheated out of my celebration of these teachers in my own mind as he seems to be saying that he does not feel celebrated and that it was not worth his time to be a teacher all those years.He comments that he will not be celebrated by anyone and therefore will not be fooled into thinking that it is enough just to feel within himself that he has accomplished a feat by “reaching” any one student or making a difference in at least one life.

  McCourt goes on to describe an imaginary dream of a teacher to be celebrated nationally and recognized as Teacher of the Year.  But he is sarcastic and mocking the dreams that he probably had as a young teacher.  [This reminds me of all the American movies celebrating the occasional teacher who becomes a hero to the downtrodden students.  There is Blackboard Jungle, and The Principal, and Dead Poet’s Society, and Wildcats.  All movies showing that America expects their teachers to be heroes and make a change in their youth.  Can this be the expectations that are not fair that McCourt is bitter about?  I think so].  I get the feeling he is not satisfied with his life at all.

  [This is really disappointing form a student’s perspective. It makes me feel almost guilty thinking about it.  As if I have ruined this teacher’s life by expecting him to feel rewarded teaching us students.]   He even mentions that it was not enough until he wrote and published his first book.

  Then he felt celebrated by the world which seems to mean a lot to him.  He has not gotten to the point that being celebrated by one’s self is satisfying but he seems to need to be recognized as glorious and successful by the world.  Still I seem to sense that he is being facetious about the whole thing.  That he is saying he should not feel this way.   I am trying to grasp him and his true depth but cannot get there yet.  It is almost as if he is saying he did not feel completely satisfied by his teaching career but is berating himself for it and yet blaming society that it was that way.Chapters 1-5 2/26/09McCourt starts on reliving his first days as a teacher.  It is funny but also I can see a normal human being in him.

He is trying to figure out the best way to get through to the kids.  The bitterness is gone that I found earlier in the book and I am relaxing into his stories, [Here I begin to really enjoy the story and it becomes hard to put down.  I can tell by my comments that my tone is relaxing and more forgiving after being bothered in the beginning.]  chuckling when he explains his naiveté and smiling in admiration when he listens silently to the principal’s reprimand about the sandwich.  I wonder what I would’ve done in such a situation as I am not a person who likes confrontation.  [Funny how I mention I do not look for confrontation but when I hear or see injustice and unfairness, sometimes I cannot stop myself from confronting the perpetrator.  As much as I do not like to start an argument or would feel in this situation like I would be afraid to be ignored by the student and made to look a fool; it is funny that I will confront someone if I feel they are treating someone else unfairly.  I think I would have eaten the sandwich too.

It sounded delicious]. Would I have challenged the student who threw the sandwich or would I have hidden away at my desk? Or would I have perhaps ordered quiet and taken a chance of being ignored?  I wonder.  [I think I definitely would have said something or at least picked up the sandwich myself,  eaten it too, or placed it back in the lunch bag and then on my desk to see if the student would ask for its return]. I don’t like these stories about his  early  days in school.  I hate hearing about children being treated badly.  In fact I hate anyone being treated unfairly or badly. [See again I am concerned with unfairness.

Especially to innocent children;, my heart goes out to them. I cry when I hear horrible stories of abuse and I wish somehow I could make it all right for all of the children of the world. But I am no Superman and can only make a difference as large as one person can make, but I will not stop trying and will NOT ever do nothing.]  It makes me just about cry and there are tears in my eyes when McCourt discusses the bloody shirt and the fights on the school grounds especially since he is saying he is only 4 years old.  [I am definitely getting emotional.

  I can tell from my comments that I am getting sad and grievous but a bit feisty too. But that is a good thing since things like this will never change if no one cares.]  Someone that small should not have to even deal with something like that.  Now I am getting angry.  I despise injustice and unfairness.  I know sometimes when I see injustice I strive to set it right. But not by harsh actions, with words, explanations and understanding.

  I can be relentless with explanations.  I will go on and on trying to convince the wrongdoer through logic that they must change their unfair treatment of others or their enforcement of rules that I feel are unfair.  [Funny, but here as I discuss my tendency to ramble explanations, I am doing just that-rambling an explanation of my own behavior.  I can see I have a need to explain myself. I wonder why and cannot seem to answer that question but I feel it has to do with wanting others to understand me and who I am and how I think.  This book is quickly prompting me into self-examination. I think maybe McCourt was self-examining and may or may not have meant for his readers to do the same.

Then again, being a teacher,  he probably did. Seems to me that his whole book was filled with his stories to youth leading to their understanding of life or self-promotion or self-investigation due to his stories. And this memoir is a story of his life leading me- the reader- to think about myself.

  Once a teacher, always a teacher.] Sometimes I just want them to change their minds about how they feel about something.  Sometimes I let myself get adamant about things.  Like a friend who feels differently about an issue than I do.  I am reminded about an argument about abortion.  I grew extremely heated when my friend argued for it while I felt the tiny life completely vulnerable and at the mercy of the stronger lives outside of its world needed to be protected.  The unfairness and injustice sent me almost into a rage as I tried to make the other side see how I felt with simple logic and an attempt to stir their compassion.  Reading about the injustice of his treatment at the hands of McCourt’s early schoolmaster brings up the same feelings.

  No, I don’t like to hear about those things at all.I know my treatment in school was definitely much better than that.  And hearing that his father was a harsh alcoholic and left when he was ten really made me sad.  Still, McCourt mentions that his father [see he was not all bad or always bad. I think there is good in everyone somewhere.

Maybe that is the way to finding usefulness and goodness in all . This positive thinking can lead to happiness.]  told them stories and that in a way he was teaching them this way. Teaching them about life.  My father always told us stories around the dinner table.

  I learned a lot from his stories. Some were funny. Some interesting.  [My father is a wise man whom I always looked up to. He stressed the importance of education in our home and this may answer one of my questions reflected on here wondering why I strove to get straight A’s in school and why it was so important to me.  Because my father whom I admired instilled that idea into me.

]  That is what history and experience is all about.  Passing it on to others so that we may all learn and know.  And knowledge is power right?  [I certainly believe that knowledge can free us of ignorance.  Ignorance holds us back because what we do not know frightens us.

]  That implies the Education is Empowerment theory too.  Which makes sense, I think, because with knowledge you can make better decisions.  Even some knowledge as simple as what is good to eat and what is poisonous makes the theory true.  Without this knowledge, one might eat something harmful and kill himself.  Maybe that is a very basic way of looking at it, but it is true.McCourt feels like a real person when he reveals his ups and downs going through the teacher’s license exams.  I would feel the same way, especially about the examiners looking down at him.

  He seems really intelligent to me. A good thinker.  I also feel for McCourt when he is used by that girl June.  She is not very likeable and seems odd.  She makes no sense to me.  And McCourt is once again realizing his naiveté. [I seem to feel sorry for McCourt here and this is why.

McCourt is priding himself throughout the story on not being naïve. Yet he keeps encountering situations where he is reminded that he is in some ways still naïve.  But everyone is naïve about something.  No one is all-knowing. Only God can be omniscient.]  Maybe this helps in his decision to give up on finding a teaching career.  First he is elated when the one examiner tells him he will be a good teacher some day and then crushed when he finds out the guy dies and he cannot seem to get a job teaching anywhere.  Sometimes life is like that.

Chapters 6-10 2/28/09McCourt is still trying to find his way into the basic lessons he is trying to teach. He has been getting tired of being reprimanded for sharing life’s stories with his class.  I think though that the classroom needs a little of both.  I always appreciated when my teachers told a bit about themselves or a story from their past, even when the story was about someone else and not them.  It still made the teacher seem like a real person and someone you could connect with.  [These are the teachers I can remember names and faces to.  I am certain Frank McCourt’s students will remember him to this day.]  this made them someone you wanted to learn from and listen to.

  When McCourt is criticized by the parents from the parent conferences in Chapter 5 he right away decides he is done with the sharing, but I think this is a rash decision and a defensive maneuver.  It would be a bad thing to do completely.  [I sound like I am beginning to panic here. I don’t want McCourt to make a rash decision to change his ways as I am appreciating his teaching style and enjoying the stories.]  McCourt needs to find the happy medium between sharing and also adding in the real lessons a bit more maybe.  But he thinks he will stop sharing, knowing deep inside it will not happen. [Yeah almost immediately McCourt changes his mind.

He has begun to learn who he is and I can tell from my prediction that I as the reader am growing to understand his inner personality. And to realize what type of a person he is.]  He cannot be that type of person or teacher  because he cares and he wants to connect.

  So this leads to his lesson in Chapter 6 where he gets the kids to write excuse notes, not just for missing school.  McCourt expands the lesson out to excuse notes for historical figures.  I am so excited reading this it makes me want to join in the fun.  [I am enjoying myself reading this book.  And his refreshing ideas make me recall the happier days in high school  It is with satisfaction that I can recall many classes with great teachers and challenging work. I miss that interaction.

  It was fun and stimulating and mixed with the other experiences of youth; it was exhilarating.]  McCourt’s unconventional method sparks his class and they not only enjoy the assignment but are actually learning from it.  [I am sure this assignment will remain in their memories forever. And I am sure some students do not even realize that they learned something about grammar from it.]  It came to McCourt suddenly, and he turned it into a lesson.So he has found a first way to reach the kids and still teach them something from the lesson books.  [I am admiring Frank McCourt just like I admire the following coach in the mentioned movie.

]  This reminds me of that movie from the 1980s, Wildcats, with Goldie Hawn as the head coach of an inner city football team.  She struggled at first to reach the players/students and she had to prove herself to them before they would even listen to her advice or play on her team.  She used unconventional methods too, like challenging the team to a run around the track to see who collapsed first.  She came out the winner and the team began to respect her.  By the time they were winning games in the end, she was finally realized for the great coach that she was.  McCourt finally gets recognized instead of berated for his unconventional lesson when the Superintendent of Schools of Staten Island walks in and reviews his students while they are writing excuse notes.  At first McCourt thinks he is in trouble and misunderstood again but then the Superintendent says it is “energetic and imaginative teaching” (McCourt, p90).  McCourt is so happy he sings in his class the next day and feels that school and classes should always be like this.

[So happy endings that happen in movies can happen in real life too.]   There are a couple times in his book when McCourt says he feels like walking out and slamming the door behind him, or shouting at a student and shaking him or her.  This is the opposite of those times.  This sounds like he is finally making a breakthrough but not just for the students, but for himself.  I think his experience is bringing new ideas to him which is great.  [McCourt definitely seems to be gaining self-confidence.]  He is not so much the new teacher anymore but a good teacher.

At least in the eyes of the students.  And he hears this praise from his students when they say things such as not you Mr. McCourt but those stupid teachers who give us tests everyday and such.   He is being singled out by the students, forming a bond with them and it is becoming them against the world.

  The students seem to feel apart from their parents and other teachers and the principal, but McCourt is a friend and someone to look up to.  A far cry from the man who first stood in the classroom and ate that sandwich.   But right away McCourt has a set back.  Ugh isn’t that just like real life?   He complains to a mother about a student’s interruptive behavior in class, and the kid’s father comes to the class to bang the kid against the wall.  All I can think about this is how that never would happen today without the kid being protected and the parent being taken out of the building.

  The father did not just yell at the kid or give him a smart whack, but literally picked him up and banged him against the wall until he went limp.  [I know this father was too violent for my taste, but it just shows how important the parents of these teens felt education was.They believe in the education is empowerment theory.

  And they probably see all the highly educated people with big careers making more money than they are and having bigger houses and an easier life as far as they know.  But like I state later in my journal, I think this myth is not a myth but is logical. It only makes sense that education can empower you to achieve more goals or right more wrongs.  But I am also thinking now that the myth is just a myth because education does not have to be empowerment. If it is ignored, it can be useless.

  That is why it is a myth. It is not just the education that is empowerment, but what you do with the education that is important. You can absorb all the knowledge in the world and never use it and never accomplish anything as a result.  So these parents can force their kids to listen in school but they cannot make them make something of their lives if they are not willing .  That is an important part of education and empowerment too.

]   Sure McCourt mentions how he felt bad and thought the kid would just get a talking to, but he also senses that this removes the trust he had in his class, the camaraderie and the bond that they were in this together.  He had, in a sense, narced on one of the kids.  It wasn’t them and him against the world anymore.  But then, I am both disappointed and relieved when he moves on to the next story.  He moves on to tell about a young couple in love in his classroom and by the looks from some of the students in this incident I get the idea he is still connecting with the class.  So I am relieved he has not lost them, but disappointed that it seems something was skipped or missed here.  One moment I felt he had lost the class and so did he and next we were on to another topic or incident.

  I assume time just washed away what had happened and McCourt did not feel the need to drag it on, but still I was surprised how quickly it was forgotten or that there was no mention of how he won back their trust after that parent came into the room and tossed that poor kid around.            McCourt meets a celebrated writer Dahlberg but is disappointed in how he gets treated.  I never heard of this Dahlberg and never read any of his stuff but I dislike him because of how he treats McCourt who I am liking now and connecting with. McCourt is starting to remind me of my favorite high school teachers.  Dahlberg is degrading McCourt as soon as they meet, putting him on the spot.  Then mocking his answers.

  It makes me angry, but would I have stood up to the man?  Or at least defended myself better than McCourt did?  [I grew up learning to respect my elders, but also am not likened to being treated unfairly and this man was trying t o make McCourt look like a fool. I think I would have walked away and said nothing out of respect for my elder and respect for myself.]   Then McCourt later practices diplomacy in an effort to remain friends with the man and even flatters him to keep in his good graces, thinking a friendship will enlighten him to the man’s wisdom.  Yeah right. That is until he realizes the old man is after his wife.  I am disappointed in McCourt when he is flattering the writer Dahlberg after the way Dahlberg treated him, but later I am glad he stands up to him, insulting him slightly so that he never speaks to McCourt again.McCourt discusses the way the teachers grade the New York State Regents exams and how they try to cushion the grades to help as many students pass as possible.  He sounds really sarcastic and disillusioned here.

Or maybe I am disillusioned. In a day when they talk about “No Child Left Behind”,  I wonder what they mean by that and what people actually think they mean by that.  It does not mean that kids are passed who do not deserve to pass.

  What would be the purpose of that? We would have illiterates walking around trying to run the country in the future then.  Like my neighbor who is in her late twenties and needs help with multiplication.  She claims she just never cared enough to study but they passed her anyway to get rid of her.  That would be only a decade ago.  Wasn’t education beyond passing kids who did not deserve it by then?  I had thought so.  It really befuddles me and is making me wonder just how improved the system is or not.  I always worked hard to get good grades.

  Thinking about it now, I wonder why?  Was it the challenge?  The fact that it was expected of me?  The fact that learning came easily to me?  The drive for knowledge and to understand?  Just what was it anyhow?  Why did I study so hard and strive for the A’s?  [As stated above when reflecting on my father, I think he played a large part in my attitude toward my education. My parents were always real proud of my grades and that meant something too. I received recognition for my good grades and for learning, so of course I continued to do it.]   I certainly developed some great productive habits and even a sense of responsibility.  I would not change what I did or how I studied if I could.  I hate being in the dark and not understanding.

  Which brings us to the old adage again education is empowerment or knowledge is power.  Without understanding and knowledge, things could not be changed for the better.Or rather we would not know if things needed to change or not.  If you see a situation or anything that you do not like because you feel it is wrong or corrupt you must first study it and seek the knowledge about it.

  With that knowledge you can decide whether or not it needs changing and how to go about changing it.  In a debate, knowledge is power for sure.  If you have no knowledge of the subject how could you debate on it.

How could you change someone else’s opinion if you do not understand it.  How could someone even like a social worker or counselor step in and help a troubled family or person unless they understood and had first hand knowledge of what was going on and what the trouble was?  I think people think of the saying knowledge is power or education is empowerment being about success.  That you can become successful if you have knowledge and power.  And this may be true, but I think it has a more basic meaning.  It is not so much that you can be successful as a lawyer or a professor or a doctor-and yes these people need education and knowledge for sure to become successful-  but I think it means that you cannot succeed in any endeavor without knowledge.  That is what makes knowledge power and therefore education (the attainment of knowledge), empowerment.

  It is as basic as a baby learning to talk without the absorption of others speech-thereby the knowledge and education of words- the baby will not be successful in talking…ever.  [I think I am explaining again. I want to make sure it is understood that I believe knowledge is important and can free someone from a life perhaps that they do not want.]  And I feel McCourt feels the same way.  He sounds disheartened and part of a masquerade as he helps the teachers grade these assessments and adds points for topic sentences, etc…  Although I do chuckle.

  He makes it humorous with his sarcastic remarks such as giving points for having a dead father who braved his life against the mob and others.  [I like McCourt’s sense of humor, slight or other wise.] Then he moves on to explain how he tried to help his students reach for great aspirations and not to sell themselves short just because they were in a vocational school.  He encourages students with potential to strive for college.  But here he is put down by the guidance counselor and that makes me angry.

  [By now I am connected to McCourt and sensitive to his feelings. I am defending him here.]  The guidance counselor is telling him not to encourage the kids to reach for the stars so to speak, but I think the counselor is not being open indeed.

  It is not that McCourt is pushing them beyond their potential but acknowledging the potential they have. And this closed minded counselor is thinking it is too much trouble or not giving these kids he really does not know the support they would need to take a chance on life and to strive for  something more challenging than they are being told to strive for.There is nothing wrong with being a hairdresser or a plumber but why not let someone know they have the ability to be a great professor or a lawyer if that may be something they could do and may want to do.

  Why not let youth feel the choice is theirs and life is open to them.. Why shut doors on them? Especially since he does not know this girl they are discussing as well as the teacher does?   It is frustrating to think that a counselor is in charge of this type of thing and is actually discouraging  students to strive to do their best, but telling them to settle for mediocre so that they do not fail.  I am not saying to reach for the stars or go beyond your own skills.

  For example, I would not set out to scale a mountain today, but with training and hard work and of course education on how to do it, why couldn’t  I eventually achieve it?  As long as someone is within their own skill set and they have the true desire to do something the possibilities should seem open to them.  There should be no closed doors on youth in my opinion. [In other words, no one’s dreams should be shattered before they have a chance to try to make them real.

  But I do realize that people all have their own skills and limitations and do not think this should be ignored]Part II Chapters 9-11 3/1/2009            At first it seems McCourt’s life is rising and then his aspirations are shattered.  He goes on to move up in the world and teach adults with his Masters degree, but that only turns out to be a disappointment to him.   The adults don’t idolize him like he thinks they will.  He tries to help them and liberate them from their imprisoned way of thinking like he did for the high-schoolers, but his attempts are unappreciated. They don’t want to be liberated like a teenager would.  They want to go through life and complete what they have to in order to achieve a better or easier life in some way, mostly in their work environment or their jobs.

   I think McCourt expected more of a class like you would get in a large college, not a community college and maybe he would have stayed with the college level teaching if he had started there.  Instead he ended up leaving.  He was disappointed and felt his life was not going in an upward direction.  It is funny because I never think about life being and up and down type thing, but like you start out young and it is supposed to improve on up form there.  But even looking at my own life, I realize it is not like that.  Life definitely moves forward but sometimes there are set backs that you need to overcome lest you get stuck in a rut stop improving.  This is the most valuable idea I am pulling away from this second part of McCourt’s book.

  He rises again after leaving community college and trying but failing to land another worthy high school job.  McCourt is accepted to Dublin to start studying for a doctorate.  But here he learns a valuable lesson: that he does not belong her e and never could become a part of the Irish.  Although he grew up here he is considered a returning Yank and an outsider, not the hero he had hoped to be upon return.

  But he feels an outsider in America too, I think.  Although he was born in Brooklyn, he seems to be constantly struggling to be seen as an American.  Everyone frequently calls him fresh off the boat. And this he definitely takes as a great insult.  I feel he is desperately trying to find his niche in life.  [I sound like I feel bad for him here.  But I also do not really sound too sad about it.

I think right now I feel it is best he realizes who he is and gets his satisfaction and enjoyment from being him instead of trying to identify with a special group in this world.  It is great to feel that you belong but you need to be yourself too. When I was in high school I got along with all types and groups of people but was never truly one of them.I could not stereotype myself as a geek, a stoner, a troublemaker, a preppy, a popular.

  No, but I could get along with them all and hope to this day that they realize I am myself and could not fit in to any of those groups back then.  And the best part is that I did not waste my time trying. After all, once you leave the high school environment it no longer matters what category you fit into just how well you can do your job and how you treat others will make you accepted or not.]  Seeing a psychologist doesn’t really seem to help him, but he does admit that the only place he does not feel shy is in front of a class.  I think this may be because he feels that other adults make judgments on him and see themselves as being above him in some way.  He mentioned this when he met Dahlberg, and in each and every interview to become a teacher at a school.  It seems that these other adults are actually looking down at him because of youth or later his Irish background, or his lack of ambition.  But now it is not lack of ambition, just that his aspirations are not what theirs are or what they would expect of a man in his position.

  Not everyone who is a teacher should strive for administrative positions.  Some people would not enjoy that and who would be left to teach anyhow?  Even McCourt makes the same remark.  I think he is sometimes trying to achieve things he does not really want to but feels he can maybe be recognized or celebrated if he does these things, such as trying for a doctorate.  I feel McCourt is elated to be accepted into the program but then disappointed that he feels unwanted or like an outsider.

  I think this is because it is not what he really wants.  What he needs is to be appreciated for who he is and what he is doing and what he is good at doing which is being a high school teacher.  And when he becomes a substitute teacher for lack of a job, this all just makes him miserable and he seems to fall into a slump.  Once again showing a low point in his life after being exalted and on the way to a doctorate.Part III chapters 12-15 3/2/2009            McCourt titles this “coming alive in room 205” and just the title makes me believe he has found his niche.  It seems McCourt has discovered that he belongs in a high school classroom making impressions on these kids.   His experience has landed him the courage and confidence to teach how he feels he needs to teach and not to second guess himself as often.

  I think everyone in time can reach this level of self-realization and self-likeness.  Some however,  would have to achieve it without the support of others.  McCourt I feel is one of these. He seems to have made his way along and achieved a sense of accomplishment within himself.

  His stories about the class are revealing more about himself.  His decisions to keep on teaching in his own way even when he is nervous about the comments from other students and classes and even form parents and principals shows he is starting to believe in himself.  And a few stories show that he is supported by his classes.  The students show their appreciation of him even though they will move on with their lives once they graduate.

  This is in contrast to the bitter comments he makes in the prologue.  I wonder why he started out so negatively and seemingly unsatisfied only to tell the story that grows into a less bitter man.Chapters 16-18 3/3/2009            Open Day at school is much different than his first Open Day.

  McCourt is much more confident and parents are less hostile.  McCourt has come full circle. At least I feel he has.  When he discusses how he grades his students he is profound and making them think for themselves. When he tells them everyone evaluates themselves I feel he is saying something about himself.  [Here I am sensing that McCourt has been evaluating himself through the whole entire book.  This book has made me evaluate myself too and I see that tone in my comments here.]  When he mentions “My Papa’s Waltz” I am reminded of when I read that poem.

I remember once reading online about a professor who taught the poem in class and was surprised that the students saw child abuse in the heart of the poetry.  I could see how they came about that, but I could see the classic and the professor’s point of view too.  I wonder if this is because of my father [this was a man I feared a bit but respected and felt that I could open up to him and ask questions about life too and always get the truth. My father was also very loving and fun at times, not always just an authority figure.  But always a man I could trust to be honest with me. I think this is why I can see both points of view. Because I know the fear of a father when done wrong and because I know an alcoholic blue collared grandfather who abused my loving father.  But also because I had a nighttime ritual with my father who was a hard working blue collared man who sometimes smelled like beer when he hugged and kissed my cheek before bed] or because I am open-minded and flexible and try to see other’s points of views all the time.

  I am always trying to understand other people it is interesting and also very helpful in being fair and keeping peace. [Boy I seem to keep bringing up fairness and I know I am really adamant about it. I really get outraged at injustice.  It is funny and now I am wondering why I am like that. I see this is the third time I have mentioned this in these reflections and now I am reflecting on it.

  Maybe it is just how I am .  Righter of the wrongs and protector of the innocent just on a much smaller scale than Superman or Chuck Norris.  I know I am being sarcastic here and I don’t mean to be.  I see my tone is not sarcastic when I was responding to McCourt. These thoughts are brought about by what McCourt reveals about his unfair treatment in childhood and I must say he has come a long way despite those harsh treatments and I must say I still think that such poor treatment of youth should be stopped and that this could only happen through education of a better way.  Again with knowledge is power…power to change these things we don’t agree with or don’t like in the world.]  But back to  McCourt, he has also matured greatly and become to like himself.The only thing making me feel he is incomplete is his profession in the prologue that led to this point- that he was not celebrated until he wrote his book.

  By the ending where a student tells him he should write a book and he comments “I’ll try” (McCourt, p.258)  the reader is aware that he is happy and confident.  This is his last comment and the entire final chapter, “I’ll try.”  Readers know that he accomplished this last objective and even more as McCourt mentions in his prologue that this was not the first book he ever wrote.  But in my opinion it was a soul searching book that helped McCourt lose his bitterness against the world and to see his own appreciation for who he is and was and what he accomplished in the high school classrooms.

[This is a book that states the unfair plight of teachers who should be celebrated mentors of youth.  It implies the American dream and whether or not it is truly obtainable and education’s role in it.  But this book is more than that.  Above all McCourt brought me to self-examination.  I too could see myself in his shoes as I struggle to find myself and my purpose in life. I can also reflect upon how I felt when I was in high school and relate him to the teachers I knew then.

  This book of memoirs is not only a story of  a teacher’s life, but a statement about believing in one self and truly coming to an understanding of oneself.  It seems to me that with this knowledge of self comes the power to attain true happiness.]McCourt, Frank.

Teacher Man.  New York: Scribner, 2005.


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