Book club: Time to post on TEACHER MAN

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by kholmes, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Last night, I finished reading the book for the second time. This is probably my favorite book about teaching, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie being a close second.

    I come from a family of teachers. My grandmother taught history and social studies to black kids in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for thirty years, and my dad is a retired Math professor who taught in Minnesota for just as long. My aunt was a counselor at Columbine High School in Colorado during the tragedy. My teaching career was cut short by CFS, but I got in about fifteen good years in the classroom. I taught college-bound Navajo students for ten years and then prep school students much like McCourt's Stuyvesant High School students for the last three years that I taught. I was luckier than most; I liked the vast majority of my students, and some of them are still in contact with me. A few of them even come to see me on a regular basis.

    I could relate to McCourt's experiences with teenagers, his conflicts with administrators, his digressions from standard lesson plans, his self-doubt, and his feelings of reward and growth in the long run.

    Many of you have posted on your thoughts on the book already, but now that you've finished, how about sharing your thoughts on a few questions:

    Who was your favorite teacher?
    What was your most memorable experience teaching someone something?
    What the heck is WRONG with teenagers, anyway?
    If you were a student in Frank McCourt's class and he assigned you to write an excuse note for yourself or someone famous, what would you write?

    Or feel free to ignore the above questions and write about whatever you want.

    [This Message was Edited on 07/27/2007]
  2. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    I already reported on this book. See previous post regarding selection of books.

    Here's an excuse I actually did write for myself.

    "Please excuse Rock. The last two days he has been dizzier than usual."

    This was following my inner ear infection. Haha

    Favorite teacher. I had lots of good teachers over the years. What I noticed when I asked other students in H.S. or college about teachers was that about a third would say a given teacher was good. Another third would say ok. Another third would say bad. The final third would just shrug or mumble, I dunno.

    (My math teachers were never too good tho.)

    I guess my favorite teacher was Rena Ingersoll; high school English. She gave me a copy of John Brown's Body by Stephen Vincent Benet w/ an encouraging note on the flyleaf.

    I sent her a letter of appreciation from college telling her she had done such a good job I was excused from Freshman English. When my book was published I tried to send her a copy, but she had moved.

    She had high standards and wanted her students to do the same. But she had a sliding scale. Students like John R. got a "C" if they turned in anything. Good students would have any flaws pointed out, even in an "A" paper.

    At the time I thought she looked about 65. Looking back, however, year book photos indicate she was closer to 45.

    This was back in the 50s. She had cancer and was treating w/ a radioactive cocktail. Worked too. She lived for some decades after the treatment.

  3. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    My favorite teacher was actually not one of my teachers, but one of my oldest son's teachers. She taught him in third grade and was the best teacher I ever met. She really cared about her kids and would call our house when my son had to be hospitalized due to his asthma. She even called me when I missed my parent-teacher conference and gave me a conference over the phone! And it was totally my fault that I missed the conference! She knew it was out of character for me because I am usually a very involved parent.

    My most memorable teaching moment was when I taught my younger son the facts of life. He was 9 and his almost 20 year old brother was expecting a child out of wedlock with his girlfriend. Tom asked me if they went to the hospital to get pregnant because he saw that on TV. he saw a show about invtro fert or something. I told him no, that's not how most people get pregnant, so of course he asked me how did they get pregnant so I told him about when people who are in love sometimes do things that they should really wait to be married or ready to have a child before they do it.

    So he says he thought Sex was the thing that people were supposed to wait to be married for! Big pause. So I told him, yes sex is how you get pregnant and he was astonished! He says you mean they were having sex! No wonder her mom is so mad!!!

    So I explained a bit more and he asked me why would anyone want to do that? I answered the best I could and he asked how often to people do it, once a year? I said probly more and then he asked, How often do you and dad do it? This all happened in the car when he was in the back and I was driving. I tried so hard not to laugh. Realistically I know chances are he won't wait until he's married, and I was just waiting for him to ask me if I waited, but he didn't.

    IMO, teenagers have too much and it's our fault I guess. I want to take my kids to work at a homeless shelter or food bank one day when I am a bit better. The experience would be good for all of us.

    I had some pretty good math teachers and excelled somewhat at math, but I'm still trying to figure out the fractions in Rocky's post!!

    [This Message was Edited on 07/27/2007]
  4. sisland

    sisland New Member

    confess i'm Not done Reading the Book yet (Still working on it) But to answer your Questions,,,,,I actualy had 2 Favorite Teachers ,,,1st grade Mrs Delap ,,a very sweet lady with Large magnified Glasses,,,,,,,I can still see her face today! Of course she taught me how to read!

    Also had a High school American History Teacher ,,,Mr.Duff,,,He was very influential and made learning fun! lots of field trips,,,,I think thats why i'm still interested in History,,,,,,

    The most Memorable Teaching exsperience i can recall was being in charge on Oreintating New people to be Physical therapy/nurse aids,,,

    I very much enjoyed it and remember having alot of patience with them ! and the more time i took to show them how to do stuff the right way ,,as opposed to the (Hurry up and get it done way) The Better workers they turned out to be!,,,,also got to Teach kids how to Read being a Voluteer in the class room (Loved that!)

    Whats wrong with Teens? Well My theroy is that their Bodys and minds are going through all sorts of changes at once and they don't know how to handle it,,,,and in order to control their lives they become very Obnocious!,,,,Eventualy they grow out of it,,,For parents and Teachers it's a grin and Bear it thing!
    Finaly to get excused,,I would have to say I sprained my ankel and can't make it to class today or the classic (The Dog ate my Homework!) lolol,,,,,,,Sis

    [This Message was Edited on 07/27/2007]
  5. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    loved the book, I thought he was just like my favourite teachers, genuinely interested in his students, loved teaching, caring.....a very nice man.

    A great writer too, the first of his books I've read, saw the film Angela's Ashes but couldn't read the book, grew up in a slum in the 50s and though not quite as bad as in that book, too bad to want to remember, like Rock, we've done poor and don't want to revisit.

    My favourite High School teacher was Mr May, the Art teacher, a friendly man, rarely angry, good dress sense too.

    Teaching someone something, dont have a memorable experience.

    Whats wrong with teenagers anyway - well a lot of them are neglected by their parents, a lot of them get no respect from older people who expect respect from teenagers, many have no prospects, education system has gone to pot in UK anyway. I like young people but I hate yobs.

    I think it Socrates who wrote about the youth of his day and it could have been written today, it was so apt. They were lazy, disrespectful etc.

    Well my one excuse note for not doing P.E. (physical exercise) was that my apartment had burned down and I had lost my trainers in the fire.........actually our apartment had burned down but months before and we had to move but I had new trainers, I hated P.E. (physical exercise).

    I have a friend who teaches and she just hates the administrators, the bureaucracy involved, so much that you wonder when the teachers get time to teach.

    Mollystwin, thats so funny about your son, reminds me of when I told my 10year old son the facts of life, I feel I may have ruined his sex life forever.......

  6. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    as far as teaching sex to kids, I got a book at the library and was reading it to my son who was probably about 6.

    I pointed to the picture of the egg and said, "It's so small you can't see it."

    He said, "I can see it."

    I trained lots of attorneys, adjusters, and legal secretaries over the years, but I can't remember anything colorful or interesting. Maybe I can make something up.

    This is called lying or "just being creative".

    Hope everyone is having a good weekend.


  7. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    You said, "When my book was published, I tried to send her a copy, but she had moved."

    You wrote a book?
    [This Message was Edited on 07/28/2007]
  8. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    I vote for Rocky's book to be the book of the month in September!! Is it available on Amazon?
  9. bct

    bct Well-Known Member

    I love reading your posts, Rocky, and if you had a novel, should love to read it! But I guess then you would have to blow your cover .... I don't think an Amazon search of "Rockgor" would get me very far.

    Fond Regards,
  10. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Just got back from my Emotions Anonymous meeting.

    Never heard the name Lunstead, before, Molly, but it's obviously Norskie. "Stead" means place or farm. My Norwegian family name is Harstead which was originally a farm. Now there's a city by that name in Norge which is what the Norwegians call their country.

    All our practice teachers came from Luther College in nearby Decorah, Iowa, so you know there were lots of Norskies among them.

    Dar, whatever happened to "new math"? Do you know?

    Roseie, what meaneth "yob" and "trainers"? I'm guessing a yob is a surly underachiever and trainers are gym shoes. Am I close?

    Barry, I like to read your posts too, but we could use a few more of them.

    Yes, I wrote a book some decades ago. It was for law students, but no publisher was interested so I published a few hundred copies. They are all gone now. The only thing rarer than a first edition is a second edition.

    It was a major disappointment at the time. Now my turn is just about over and things don't seem too significant somehow.

    I am just finishing a show biz book and will give you all a report shortly.


  11. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Rock: A book on show biz? I truly believe you are a gifted author and thinker, my friend. If I were a publisher, I'd offer you an advance immediately, no matter what you were writing about.

    Molly: What's a CCD instructor? I think that must describe you: a CCD--Cool Chick from Detroit. Also, what movie did you and your husband watch, and was it any good?

    Dar: Your story about teaching your 9-year-old son the facts of life was absolutely hilarious. "How often do people do it, once a year?" "No--only those with CFS."

    Sis: I love those names: Mrs. Delap and Mr. Duff. Sounds like you learned about the value of patience in teaching!

    Rosie: I, too, would be curious to know what a Yob is. Is that what you get when you are looking for work in Sweden? Have you ever read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie? I remember walking around parts of Edinburgh where they shot the film with Maggie Smith.

    [This Message was Edited on 07/28/2007]
    [This Message was Edited on 07/28/2007]
  12. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Used to do a lot of proofreading and editing over the years.

    I remember taking over a caseload and reviewing a file that involved two accidents. Nobody who worked on the file previously, however, realized there TWO, not just one. To use a legal term, it was zee beeg snafu aka malpractice.

    Anyway I wrote a report to our client to straighten out this egregious error. My report went out. When I re-read it a month or so later I was appalled. My report had just added to the confusion.

    So I learned it's best, if possible, to wait a couple days before sending out stuff. Especially if it's important stuff. (Hint: if people are litigating about it, it's generally important.)

    All of which is to say is that I didn't realize I had committed a serious amibiguity in my previous post. The book I am finishing is one I am reading, not writing. Just a slight difference. It's by a new prolific author who has written several show biz books. Name is James Robert Parish.

    The book is "Fiasco", and it's about terrible movies that involved talented people, cost enormous sums of money, and were miserable flops. "Ishtar" being one of the most notorious.

    Sorry for the confusion.

    Rock aka Bozo

  13. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    When I read your post I thought you meant you were reading a book. Then I read Ken's post and thought, Wow, He's writing a book!! And I got so exited because your posts are always so entertaining the book must be great! Then I read your last post and cracked up!! I thinkg we are all bozo'z with our brain fogged minds!!!
  14. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Whew, brain fog is right (on my part, that is). Maybe it was also wishful thinking that Rock would write a book!

    I've read a few chapters out of FIASCO. Is Heaven's Gate in there? That and Ishtar tend to be the two most famous flops.
    [This Message was Edited on 07/28/2007]
  15. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    I'm getting lost here, has / is Rock written / writing a book????? Would love to read it too.

    YOB - a yob is a young person, who is totally out of control, bordering on a sociopath - appalling behaviour ranging from thieving to assaulting innocent people. I'm afraid we have an awful lot of them here and we have teenage Yobs begetting and raising more Yobs and its an awful shame.

    TRAINERS - I thought I was using the American for gym shoes, you got it right Rock.


  16. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    "The only thing rarer than a first edition is a second edition."

    Too true and too funny!

    I'm not in the book club but, if I may, I'd like to pay homage to my favourite teacher.

    His name was Mr. Earl and he was my creative writing teacher in high school. Mr. Earl and his wife were childless and both taught at my school. They drove to school together each day in a little MG and seemed to me a very elegant couple.

    Mr. Earl was very patrician looking... tall, lanky and always wearing a beautifully cut tweed jacket. He was known by the students as "Squirrely Earl" but with great affection. He was dignified, kind and intellectual. I adored him.

    During my second year in Mr. Earl's class, I was having increasing problems at home and became very quiet. Mr. Earl took me aside and asked me what was wrong. I burst into tears and said, "nothing" the way kids do. Mr. Earl then told me that he and Mrs. Earl had spoken about me and that if I ever needed a place to live, I could live with them.

    I suppose I had given away something of my situation through my writing in class. I really don't know how Mr. Earl knew that my situation was serious but he did. I have never forgotten his kindness nor have I forgotten his praise when I wrote something that he enjoyed reading. I still have a
    paper he marked with his comments on it. I treasure it.

    4 or 5 years after highschool I discovered that Mr. Earl had been killed in a car accident. His wife survived; I can't imagine the heartbreak she must have felt at his loss. I have mourned Mr. Earl in the same way I mourn everyone whom I have loved. He never knew how important he was to me and how much it meant to me when he and Mrs. Earl offered me a home with them. I will always miss him.

    Teachers cannot know how much they mean to their students.

    I love you, Mr. Earl!


    PS Once you put the emoticom on, you can't edit it off! It seems quite inappropriate on this post but Rock, as usual, really made me laugh!

    [This Message was Edited on 07/29/2007]
  17. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Thanks for telling us about your teacher, Mr. Earl. That was very moving.

    [This Message was Edited on 07/29/2007]
  18. sisland

    sisland New Member

    I was going to say the same thing! Moving Story!
  19. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    I love "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie", Ken. Rod McKuehn wrote a very nice score for it. I saw it recently on tv. Saw it in a theatre almost 40 years ago (when I as still young and pretty).

    Maggie Smith's boyfriend was played by Robert Stephens, her husband. I saw the two of them in the 70s onstage in one of Noel Coward's masterpieces. Probably Private Lives.

    I am a little confused because w/in a month or so I saw Vanessa Redgrave in another Coward play, probably Design for Living.

    Well, who wouldn't find all that confusing. Exhilerating too.

    Molly, CDC stand for Catholic Church Dogma. Dave Barry said the same thing about kids. How shocking it was to see your teacher at the supermarket. As tho a teacher had a life outside of school.

    You're right, Dar. We've all got brain fogitis.

    Yes, Ken, Heaven's Gate was mentioned in the book, but the author did not do a chapter on it. Maybe because there's been a lot already written on it.

    It seems the real disasters occur when the production gets underway before there is a script. Sometimes a star is a problem. The frail Liz Taylor who was ill for months and delayed Cleopatra, for example. But some stars are just hard to work with, start agruments, disappear, etc. And some stars have a project dear to their heart and are impervious to reason like John Travolta and his Scientology movie.

    And sometimes there is really poor planning. Like filming in the Northwest USA where there is lots of rain. So why go there when you want sunny weather? And shooting in a real ocean (instead of a tank) is just asking for trouble; see Waterworld.

    Rafiki, sounds like you were lucky to know Mr. Earl. Nowdays he'd probably get arrested for child molestation. I can think of several teacher I would have been happy to trade for my parents.

    By the way, I just thought of something else I wrote. A play. And it was produced. It was in jr high school. A few years ago I came across the script. I was a little surprised at how short it was: two and 1/2 pages!

    Some commercials are longer than that.

  20. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Good explanation of the ways in which movies can become expensive, overblown disasters. I'll have to find a copy of that book.

    What was your play about?

    Molly: I haven't seen "Freedom Writers" yet. Our library has a copy of it, and I'll have to check it out.

    I once wrote a paper in college on the "Images of Education in the Classroom," or something like that. There have been lots of movies, some good, some bad, some very ugly, about teachers and their students: I tend to prefer the classics (Goodbye Mr. Chips), but here's an interesting list of recent ones and their box office gross:

    What's your favorite movie about teachers?