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Courtney Langton

Courtney is an aspiring high school teacher. Her teachables are History and English, but she's happy to teach anything that doesn't involve numbers or formulas. Her particular interest is in promoting gender equity and anti-oppression both in and outside the classroom. She writes a detailed To-Do list every morning, and enjoys nothing more than a good book and a plate of bacon on a rainy Saturday.

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan's primary interest is moral education. His teachable subjects are English and Music. He encourages critical thinking and hopes to teach his students to recognize, and strive for, what is truly important to them without forgetting to be compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded along the way. He likes making analogies and his favourite is one that compares life to jumping on a trampoline.

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ARCHIVES: June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 March 2010

The world has lost an inspiration...
Sunday, July 19, 2009

You may have guessed by now that I'm always on the lookout for anything that will make me think more about teaching and thus help me become a better teacher. That much is obvious, since it's the main reason we started this blog.

I was incredibly saddened to learn that Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, and Teacher Man and one of my very first sources of teaching inspiration, died today at the age of 78.

I read his first two memoirs in high school, but when I decided to enroll in ConEd, my mom gave me Teacher Man for Christmas. Like his other books, I adored every word of it, but this one really hit home. This man was truly passionate about teaching, and he had such a hard but fascinating life, the lessons from which he used every day to teach his classes.

Here's an idea of why I think this man was so amazing: (from his obituary in the LA Times)

"We were all storytellers growing up," McCourt said of his family in a 2000 interview with the Toronto Sun. "That's all we had. There was no TV or radio. We'd sit around the fire and make up stories. My dad was a great storyteller. We'd mention a neighbor, and he'd make up a story."

"But I also had to be a great storyteller to survive teaching. I spent 30 years in the classroom. When you stand before 170 teenagers each day, you have to get and keep their attention. Their attention span is about seven minutes, which is the time between commercials. So you have to stay on your toes."

And if that's not enough, he also said this: (from an Op Ed he wrote for the NY Times)

"They wanted to know why was asking such crazy questions. I told them to figure it out for themselves. The last thing a writer needs is answers — the end of thought and the dream. But I could have told them what they sensed already: they were beginning to notice what they had previously taken for granted, ritual or the lack of it, the dance of the family dinner.

Where are the dreams and fantasies of childhood? The heads of adolescents are clogged with media images and sounds. The teacher, then, is the Knight or Fair Maid of the Imagination and the battle lines are drawn. Pull the plug, cut off the juice, let the batteries die. Just sit there and dream."

If you haven't read Teacher Man yet, I strongly urge you to find a copy at your local library.

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