Who wants to be a teachernaire?

Mark Frank with one of his pupils, Alizwa Dzakwa.

A South Peninsula High School teacher has signed a deal with an academic publisher in England for a book on how to improve the teaching of English.

“Teachernaire”, a portmanteau of teacher and millionaire is a new word that appears in Mark Frank’s book, and it’s one he coined.

“A millionaire is someone who has an abundance of something right? Well I want to motivate teachers to have an abundance of teaching methods.”

Mr Frank’s book will be published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing and is expected to be out early next year. Its working titles are “Teaching methods in High School” and “Becoming a Teachernaire”.

He had come up with “teachernaire,” he said, to encourage teachers to become more innovative and to find ways to pull in pupils from different communities.

“The dynamics of the book can be stretched across all disciplines.”

Mr Frank completed his PhD in Language and Literacy at the University of the Western Cape last year. The book is based on his thesis.

He has been teaching since 1991 and has taught all over the world, including Japan, China, Thailand and England.

He has called Mitchell’s Plain home for over 30 years and has taught there as well as elsewhere in the city, including Retreat and Bonteheuwel.

“I’ve had to adapt myself and be creative each time,” he said. “I’ve had to adapt to the mentality of my learners.”

In the book, he examines creative teachers, including himself, at more than 20 schools and assesses different teaching styles.

“For example, at one of the schools that I taught at, Princeton High School (in Woodlands, Mitchell’s Plain), there were a lot of hip hop lovers so I used the verses of Eminem and 50 Cent when teaching. I would ask the learners to fix a song and look for the grammar errors. It drew them in and steered them in the right direction. I could introduce content by teaching like that.”

He believes it’s important to teach beyond the syllabus and share motivational life lessons with the pupils, especially in a disadvantaged community where role models and encouragement are needed.

He has previously published a book of poetry, Silence Only Makes it Louder, and a novel, The Other Side of Love.

“I wasn’t a very strong learner in high school,” he said. “I meet learners who are a mirror of me, and when I see that and they can’t see their own potential, I want to bring out the best in them. That’s why I teach.”

“I want to give them that push that makes them realise that no matter if you have a slow start, it doesn’t mean that your end will be slow too.”

He feels Covid-19 has shown, now more than ever, that teachers need to be more innovative, especially as we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

South Peninsula High matric Sydney Louw said she had never met an English teacher like Mr Frank.

“I’ve been with Mr Frank since Grade 10. He is so dynamic; he’s always energetic and always available. He is the kind of teacher that I’m going to tell my kids about one day.”

Mr Frank was much older than his pupils, but they related to him, she said.

“I’m not sure if you know this, but he is obsessed with rap. Even though it’s very humorous, he incorporates it into our work and the stuff that he draws from it is very motivational. He likes artists like Eminem and Tupac (Shakur), all the legends.”

She added: “He encourages us to have an opinion and share it. We debate and share our different perspectives.”

Mr Frank’s lessons, she said, did not just come from prescribed textbooks.

“He gets us familiar with different question styles and layout so that when we write, we’re more confident. I have nothing bad to say about him. The material gives us different objectives which argue for and against the topic. He also connects with us on a personal level, and, during stressful times, he’s always there for you. He’s awesome.”

Adam Rummens, commissioning editor at Cambridge Scholars, said they looked forward to working with Mr Frank in the coming weeks as they moved towards publication of his book.