Reading guide for Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

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Teacher Man

A Memoir

by Frank McCourt

Teacher Man
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2005, 272 pages
    Sep 2006, 272 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

About This Book

From the author of the huge international bestsellers Angela’s Ashes and Tis comes this charming third memoir

Leaving behind his impoverished childhood in Ireland, Frank McCourt arrived in New York young and idealistic. Quickly acknowledging his interest for literature he joined the New York Library and began educating himself in his spare time after work. Drawing confidence from these efforts, he talked his way into a NYU and gained a degree in literature. He then embarked on a career in literature that would span over 30 years. Looking back now, he estimates that he probably taught up to 12,000 children and long before his writing fame he recalls how he would receive letters from former students praising his teaching and thanking him for inspiring them.

In Teacher Man, McCourt continues his memoirs on this chapter of his life and reflects on his experiences as a teacher and the relationships with his students. He describes with wit and poignancy, his thoughts and feelings of his profession and leads us on a journey of his own personal development and ability to finally, after 15 years, find his own voice in the classroom. Frequently questioned by his students in class about his life of poverty in Ireland, McCourt reveals how sharing and narrating his own life with his students, ultimately led to his becoming a writer.

Starting Points:

What is most appealing about Frank McCourt and his stories? How does he draw from his past to help him in the present with his teaching?

In what way does Teacher Man extend and develop our image of Frank as a person? What are your feelings towards Frank the teacher compared to Frank as a child? You might wish to think about how you reacted to his character for each of his three books. Are there any similarities and differences? What is your overall impression of the man and his life?

What makes great memoirs? What specific elements help to make the memories more vivid and real?

If you like Teacher Man you might also like:
Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters.
London Born: A Memoir of a Forgotten City by Sidney Day.
Bad Blood by Lorna Sage.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Scribner. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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