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Teacher Man: A Memoir By Frank McCourt

文章日期:2010年5月7日

Years ago, my little daughter asked me a rather naive yet stunningly mature question,“When your day comes, Mom, what would you prefer the tombstone epitaph to read?”

There are only four words by which I would like to be remembered:

A MOTHER

A TEACHER

I will focus on the latter role in this sharing.

I would like to be remembered as a teacher not because I have achieved much in this capacity. No, I have not. Has it been a laughter-only merry-go-round ride every day all these years with my students? Not exactly, for invariably there have been down times and even despair. Money? It depends on how much you need to be happy. What then do I want others to know about my work?

There have been days when my students exalted their teacher to seventh heaven, and those other days they hurled her to hell. There have been lessons she was unreservedly proud of – feeling like the queen of teaching, as well as those for which she was utterly unprepared. There have been moments when she was so burnt out that she could not wait another day to retire, and at the other extreme, when she was certain she wanted to be there for the children for thirty more years.

It is a road I have chosen to travel, and I have traveled quite extensively. But I am short of words to tell of this journey. If I may, I would like to invite readers to close their eyes and imagine riding on a coach that is speeding along the “Teaching Highway”. Now, Mr. McCourt is your tourist guide who, in a pleasant casualness, provides a professional depiction of the sceneries on either side of the road.

Mr. McCourt speaks the hearts and minds of teachers, never exaggerating, never boasting, never grumbling, but only story telling. He is telling a true, unbiased story of a teacher.

In the book Teacher Man, Mr. McCourt describes himself as “a drill sergeant, a rabbi, a shoulder to cry on, a disciplinarian, a singer, a low-level scholar, a clerk, a referee, a clown, a counselor, a dress-code enforcer, a conductor, an apologist, a philosopher, a collaborator, a tap dancer, a politician, a therapist, a fool, a traffic cop, a priest, a mother-father-brother-sister-uncle-aunt, a bookkeeper, a critic, a psychologist, the last straw.” I'd say: definitely more–for he could have been my mentor, my mouthpiece, my spokesperson, my heart, my mind and my very reason to go on even when things seemed impossible in school. I believe the impact hits not only me, or merely a few teachers, or just those in America. I am sure teachers the world over would agree that the book could have been their very own life story.

Frank McCourt passed away this past summer at the age of 79. A posthumous salute to Mr. McCourt; tributes to Mr. McCourt from another teacher!

Reviewed by Ms. Brenda Mau, Principal of St. Mark's School

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