Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
In the high school classroom you are a drill sergeant, a rabbi, a shoulder to cry on, a disciplinarian, a singer, a low-level scholar, a clerk, a referee, a philosopher, a collaborator, a tap dancer, a politician, a therapist, a fool, a traffic cop, a priest, a mother-father-brother-sister-uncle-aunt, a bookkeeper, a critic, a psychologist, the last straw.
— Frank McCourt, ‘Teacher Man’
Last night our book group discussed “Teacher Man”, by Frank McCourt. This is such an honest and perceptive book about teaching (which means it’s also insightful about students, schools, and learning in general). McCourt, who died in 2009, managed to achieve the Holy Grail of teaching — to be independent, successful and appreciated by students. If you teach, or just want to know what teachers are thinking, this is the book.