Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

About the author:

Frank McCourt (August 19, 1930 – July 19, 2009) was an Irish-American teacher and writer best known for Angela's Ashes, a tragicomic memoir of the misery and squalor of his childhood for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.


In Teacher Man, McCourt tries to learn necessary skills to be an effective teacher. Teacher Man is a compilation of stories to assert that teaching is about educating and helping students learn about learning. He tells of his experiences as a high school and college teacher in New York with passion and great humour.

Chapter 1: Mr. McCourt refers to his miserable childhood in Ireland and to how hard it is to be a teacher in the United States, especially in public schools.

Chapter 2: Mr. McCourt describes the first day of his teaching career. There is an incident with a sandwich that he manages really well, but the principal finds fault with his behavior.

Chapter 3: Mr. McCourt would like to teach through stories and music, but he is not allowed to do so, and a comment he makes about sheep gets him into trouble.

Chapter 4: Mr. McCourt tells his students about his work on the docks, how he chose to be a teacher and how hard it was for him to get a job.

Chapter 5: Mr. McCourt describes his first Open School Day. He gets into trouble again, as Norma, his student monitor, makes comments that parents disapprove of. On his second Open School Day, a mother blames him for telling stories instead of teaching.

Chapter 6: Mr. McCourt describes a lesson in which he teaches students grammar. He is very proud because he has managed to teach students one “big” word.

Chapter 7: Mr. McCourt uses some excuse notes as a source for writing tasks. Students love it and are motivated to write.

Chapter 8: Mr. McCourt tells us about a difficult student whom he learns to love. McCourt accepts him as he is, but the boy leaves school, joins the army and goes missing in Vietnam.

Chapter 9: Mr. McCourt takes a job at a college. He thinks he will be more respected, but he is wrong.

Chapter 10: Mr. McCourt is teaching at a high school again. He is also going through a bad patch in his marriage. A student tries his patience and he hits him across the face with a magazine. He loses his job at the end of term.

Chapter 11: At another high school, one of the students tells a beautiful story about the death of her mother’s favorite poet and everybody is moved.

Chapter 12: Mr. McCourt takes his students to the movies. This is rather stressful, but for some of the kids it is their first time at a movie theater and they find the

experience fascinating.

Chapter 13: He takes the students to see a performance of Hamlet. He is delighted to learn that one of his former students is going to finish high school and go to college to become a teacher.

Chapter 14: Another difficult student proves defiant and Mr. McCourt tries to use his behavior as a source for writing activities. Later, he learns that the student’s

mother, a woman he has met, has died.

Chapter 15: Mr. McCourt goes to Dublin to do a doctorate but returns to New York after two years without having finished the course. His wife gives birth to a girl.

Chapter 16: Mr. McCourt starts teaching at one of the very best schools in New York. He is invited to be the Creative Writing teacher and becomes very popular, but he

feels this is because his classes are easier than the rest.

Chapter 17: Mr. McCourt starts finding his style as a teacher but, in his attempt to avoid boredom in class, he asks questions to one of the students which he will be

sorry for.

Chapter 18: Another Open School Day, which he finds terrible. All the parents want his attention, even when time is up.

Chapter 19: He supports two students who want to do something different from what their parents expect.

Chapter 20: It is Mr. McCourt’s last day at school. When he says goodbye, one of his students suggests he should write a book.


I think that this book is a motivation to teachers. Nowadays we need courage and perseverance to achieve ours aims. Teacher man is a clear example of this, not only for him to achieve his goals, but also that his pupils have reached theirs. I liked his methods of teaching, the key to success is to be creative. I recommend this book to everybody, but specially to teachers.


  • Ballpoint pen (n): a pen with a very small ball at the end that makes the ink run smoothly onto paper.
  • Forge (v): to copy something illegally so that people think it is real.
  • Gibberish (n): meaningless language.
  • Handkerchief (n): a small piece of cloth used for drying your nose or eyes.
  • Lecturer (n): a teacher at college or university.

Interview to Frank McCourt about his book:

Frank McCourt completes his trilogy with "Teacher Man".

Listen to the last part of Teacher Man:


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