Unforgettable Writer

Dr. Byanjana Sharma

We read a countless number of books during our life-time but there are only a few which can leave a permanent mark in us. 'Teacher Man' is such a remarkable book for me. I may like the book so much because I am also in the teaching profession. 'Teacher Man' is a memoir written by an Irish-American teacher and a writer Frank McCourt.


Most of all, I am fascinated by his compelling style of writing. The flow of writing is just amazing coupled with self-deprecating humour. He sounds brutally honest too. Each and every page is full of interesting accounts. He has described a teacher's life and classroom activities extraordinarily. While reading I continuously wondered, “Oh…these are just everyday issues for a teacher; why couldn’t I write such a masterpiece?”


McCourt points out that a writer can write about anything; there should not necessarily be special events around to weave in writing. He compares "what goes inside our mind all time" with writing. He says that when we make decisions to deal with our everyday life we are writing them in our mind. This is of course true but it is an art to express our thoughts in beautiful words into paper. I found him having an unbelievable story-telling talent.


McCourt had worked as a creative writing teacher in different New York high schools for 33 years. His career, however, had not begun in a grand way. In the beginning, his work was under-appreciated. As a result of this, he had to move from one teaching job to another. In fact, he was out-of-the-box for 'the system' because he used to follow his peculiar pedagogy. He was more interested in his students' lived experiences, so he would devise lessons around those experiences.


 He writes that he felt guilty for not sticking to the curriculum but he could not help relating his teaching to real life situations. After going unrecognised for 15 long years he eventually got his voice in his profession. No matter at which school he taught McCourt's experiences with teenagers are always unforgettable and heart-touching. Overall, 'Teacher Man' is an excellent example to showcase how the ordinary events can be presented in an extraordinary way. McCourt's creative writing teacher's personality has been reflected in the entire book.


In addition, he also gives a tremendous hope to late boomers. It seems like there is no age bar if you really want to achieve something.McCourt started writing only after his retirement from the teaching job at the age of 60. He wrote his first book 'Angela's ashes'when he was 66. After the publication of this book, his life changed forever for the best. For instance, he won the National Book Critics Circle Awards and the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 and 1997 respectively for the same book. His popularity led him to meet the former US President George Bush, late Lady Diana and other well-known personalities. All in all, be became an international celebrity after 60 and enjoyed his fame until he died in 2009 when he was 78 years old.   


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