Sadly, the great teacher-writer Frank McCourt passed away yesterday Sunday July 19th 2009 at the age of 78, in New York. He had been suffering from skin cancer and subsequently menin- gitis.
Newspapers will write for days about the author of the famed "Angela's Ashes" & "Tis". His Pulitzer Prize winning writing will live on forever. Franks writing involved all of us. We felt as though we knew he and his brother Malachy well!!
He was born in New York, moved back to the slums of Limerick at the age of 4, enduring poverty and rampant alcoholism. At the age of 19 he returned to the U.S. Joining the army, it enabled him to get a college degree.
We are so familiar now with the book and movie. Are we all so familiar with Frank McCourt, the Teacher? He taught in New York high schools for 30 years. He taught English and Creative Writing. Now ,here's where freedom of speech becomes a great gift! I have a huge problem with teaching and education here. Why? I can only speak for my own experience. Both my kids go to a private Catholic School. Standards are high, discipline is great, God is allowed in the school BUT and a BIG but I don't feel like my kids are being educated. Education to me far exceeds the grades on the day. Ask my kids where Cairo is? Ask them about the Outer Hebrides? They are even developing a very narrow minded view of how the rest of the world operates. Some of what they come home with is quite frightening and it is from the teachers!!! Every subject is such a droning chore. Yes, I too went through much of this, I was not educated in Franks era in Ireland,thank God, but a more progressive learning one that Frank himself embodied. Open discussions about the subject at hand,questioning the why? Hating certain lines, loving others. Learning how to THINK for yourself is crucial. Isn't that our jobs as parents? Aren't we supposed to prepare our kids for life? Not just for High School or College? It's all so immediate. Instant gratification.
Frank McCourt was and is the standard for what a great and good teacher should be. Frank was interviewed by EducationWorld.com (Site for School issues and Education News). They asked him "So what kind of teacher did you want to be,then?"
His answer: "I don't know. How do you know anything until you do it?"
"THE MAIN THING IS TO FIND WHAT YOU LOVE" "There were people who liked teaching grammar . Kids are always resisting grammar because of the way that it's taught. But it needn't be like that. I think teachers who love a subject can find ways of making anything attractive"
Isn't this so true of everything. Doing what you love? You see it everywhere. Being passionate about something means you are always on.....it's your belief, it defines you. You live it, because it is you. Frank loved to teach. What a gift for his many students. Only this morning I read an article on one of the blogs that I follow http://www.thetoiletpaperentrepreneur.com/ about starting a business. The main point in there about your success and happiness was THE WHY? Why do you do it? Do you do it because you love it? When you do what you love, it shows.
Frank, rest in peace. May we all continue to learn from you. May I suggest reading his book, "Teacher Man". All of us has a bit of the teacher in us, if we continue to do what we love......