Let That Be a Lesson
A Teacher’s Life in the Classroom
by Ryan Wilson
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 19 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 18 Sep 2021
Random House UK, Vintage, Chatto & Windus
'A frank, funny and long overdue ode to teachers and teaching' Adam Kay
The malodorous horrors of Sports Day.
Bracing yourself for Parents' Evening.
Refereeing teenage relationship dramas.
This is not what you see in the adverts.
From the age of eight, Ryan Wilson dreamt of being a teacher. This is the inside story of his time at the chalkface, from fresh-faced trainee with grand ideals to exhausted assistant head battling ever-changing government demands. It is a tribute to the colleagues who befriended him and to the chaotic, brilliant, maddening students who inspired and enraged him. From Sean, the wannabe gangster with a soft heart, to David, the king of innuendo, and terrifyingly clever Amelia. And, above all, it's about the lessons they taught him: how to be patient and resilient, how to live authentically and how to value every day.
'Hilarious, inspiring and so terrifyingly true' Lucy Kellaway
'A delightfully frank and funny book - with a very serious message' Jacqueline Wilson
'A hilarious love letter to teaching - and to teenagers. It throws open the doors to the staff room and our ears to the gossip inside' Christie Watson
'I was captivated by Ryan Wilson's honesty and vulnerability and loved reading and exploring every minute of this familiar world' Andria Zafirakou
'Laugh out loud funny - every teacher who reads it will cringe with empathy' Laura McInerney
'A delightfully frank and funny book - with a very serious message'
'A delightfully frank and funny book - with a very serious message'
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 93 members
There’s certainly no ‘could do better’ about this book!! I would like to give it 6 out of 5 stars please. Respect. So much respect for people in the teaching profession. I truly bow down to all those who make a career in this amazing field and with this book, provides a truly amazing insight into what it’s like to teach. I absolutely LOVED reading about Ryan’s experiences and interactions within the teaching world. It was written so well. It was hilariously funny at times and also so on point, delicate and respectful (definitely not making a mockery out of the profession) but a true written account of what teaching can be like within a secondary school system as well as through training and rising through the ranks. Ah this had me laughing out loud in so many parts and it’s really worth a read. The authors sense of humour is just perfect. From troublesome students, working in difficult schools, teacher training and the daily toils and troubles of life in the classroom. It was such a brilliant insight into the policies and systems teachers have to follow too, often walking a tightrope of correctness and making sure everything is perfectly PC and non offensive to both student and parent along with guidelines and insane targets to hit which I can only imagine to be met with incredible difficulty. I could definitely sense the frustration and incredulity of some of the newer policies that have to be implemented, budget cuts and ridiculously unfair working environments to name a few. This book was such an amazingly written insight. I couldn’t recommend reading this enough. Hats off to all the teacher heroes and well done Ryan Wilson on writing such a fab book.
If you've read This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor, then you'll know how fascinating it is to get insight into such an unappreciated and criminally underfunded profession. Ryan Wilson sets up his tale in the same fashion, as short, diary style entries ranging from the heartrending to the hilarious. He shows us the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, revealing precisely what it's like working within an education system that government incompetence seems determined to destroy. Just like Adam Kay, Ryan Wilson has created a call to arms. Despite how hard teachers are working, they, and the children in their care, are being let down by U-turns on policy, lack of funding, and misinformation fed to the media. It's a book which is often funny, but its message is more important than the laughs. One for everyone to read. ARC via Netgalley
This was an ode to teachers everywhere. Thoroughly enjoyed it and despite the humour, the underlying serious message for all to hear.
Let That Be a Lesson is a frank, funny and extremely honest memoir about teaching in the English state school system. Ryan Wilson always wanted to be a teacher and the book follows his journey from wide eyed graduate in his first job to Assistant Head in his last. He is an engaging writer and some of his stories of pupils and events are laugh out loud funny. It is also a very moving book as colleagues face serious illness. The most fascinating, and horrifying, part of the book for me was its frighteningly honest look at the state system today, how Education Secretaries can make enormous changes, almost at will, which can cause huge damage, often long after they have left the post. Ryan is particularly damning in his assessment of Michael Gove. There is also much on the hideous workload and expectations of every teacher, it was very eye opening. Frankly, by the end of this I just wanted to go out and give every teacher a big hug and say thank you! I hope this book is pool side reading for every member of our current parliament this summer and gives them serious pause before they look at education funding again. Thank you to #netgalley and #randomhouse for allowing me to review this ARC
Having spent many years being a secondary school librarian, it was very interesting to me to see the other side of the coin. A great insight into how to deal with the disaffected students and the minefield of dealing with teenagers. Someone who wants to be a teacher throughout their whole life has got to be a great teacher. A very interesting read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
If Adam Kay was a teacher – this is the book he would have written. Ryan Wilson is the Gervaise Phinn of secondary schools. I laughed, I cried and I got angry. As a primary school teacher, I hadn’t realised there would be so many funny incidences in secondary school classrooms, but I really was howling with laughter at times. This book takes us from Ryan starting his teacher training and struggling to contain his nerves, as he walked down the corridor with his good friend Zoe, to parading around an Inner London school in a hi-vis jacket as assistant head teacher. With touching stories of how every child can achieve with the right teachers, and anger at how systems can beat down the best teachers, this is a must read for anyone who works in a school, as well anyone who doesn’t - this is a must-read for everyone!
I felt seen with this book. It's funny, it's honest, and it's a love letter to the teachers that, I think any year, but specially this one, are stretched beyond belief. I loved the book. I laughed out loud frequently, and shared some of the funny stories with colleagues. I think we all have similar experiences (mine are with graduate students, so quite different, but still, very very similar in occasion -- I might not have told anyone that their son "liked a bit of incest", but I tend to put my foot in my mouth quite often, and I'm sure I can come up with something similar). I drew lots of parallelisms between Wilson's experience as a primary and high school teacher (and those of the educators around him) and the experiences of academic staff in universities in the UK, where instead of Ofsted there's TEF and REF, and NSS, and just as many metrics to measure performance and student satisfaction. The mini-chapter on "how to cheat Ofstead" resonated with my experience attending many of our departmental meetings. In summary: I think everyone who's a parent with a child in school should read this book to give them a view of what it's like to be on the other side, and everyone who's an educator might also enjoy it, at least because you'll feel less lonely. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion.
Let That Be a Lesson by Ryan Wilson is an eye-opening account of what it is really like to be a secondary school teacher in Britain. It gives an insight into daily life, relationships with fellow colleagues, provides entertaining stories of interactions with students and it is unapologetically political in terms of addressing the things that desperately need changing and updating within the education system. It reminded me a lot of This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay, which is definitely a compliment! I think that most readers will be able to relate to the content of this book, whether they are a teacher, have children in school, or have just been to school themselves. The chapters are short, diary-style entries which keep your attention and made me want to read “just one more”. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author via NetGalley and this is my honest and voluntary review.
Everyone who knows, knew or lives with a teacher or who has children who are in the education system - especially at Secondary school level should read this book! What a fabulous insight into the life of a teacher and the pressure put upon teaching staff by governmental policies, procedures and red tape when the real focus should be on the children and the common sense approach to teaching that most teachers would much prefer. Ryan writes extremely well and doesn't hold back from admitting his own failings - some often extremely funny as he journeys through his first years as a secondary school teacher. Although there are many laugh-out-loud moments there are also tender and poignant issues involving much loved colleagues who suffered tragedy in their own lives. It is clear from his writing that Ryan was a dedicated teacher who loved his students and was well respected by them so it is such a shame that he, and many other teachers like him, are leaving the profession because of the impossible pressures put upon them to comply with daft 'fads' and box ticking exercises that clearly are not in the students' interests. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have a family member who teaches in a secondary school so am used to hearing about the highs and lows of the profession. My congratulations to Ryan who has a talent for making his readers laugh, cry and sympathise with all in his profession - and for teaching us all a lesson that we may not have been fully aware of. My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a pre-release copy of this book in exchange for my honest review
picked this book for two reasons. One, I had just finished watching the TV series Teachers and Two, Adam Kay said it was 'A frank, funny and long overdue ode to teachers and teaching'. I haven’t even read This is Going to Hurt but the rave reviews for it mean I definitely will and in that case I do appreciate his review of this book! I know this is a book about the English school system but this cements my knowledge that even though I’d like the school holidays, the actual teaching would not in fact suit me. Talking in front of a class. No thanks! Patience with young people - I wasn’t blessed with much! This is a very honest account from Ryan Wilson on the highs and lows of teaching in secondary school. He recounts his journey from student teacher to head of English. His frustrations at the politics that care more about statistics and data than the children’s education and welfare. His interactions with his fellow teachers and the pupils are heartwarming, hilarious and at times harrowing. The chapters are short and to the point but for some chapters I wanted a bit more. Testament to the writing I guess! Like I’ve said even though this is about the English education system, I imagine the workload and stress is much the same here in Ireland. Hats off to you teachers.
Schooldays. Some of the best days of your life or some of your worst? Ryan Wilson’s insightful memoir of his days teaching in two state secondary schools will open your eyes to the type of individuals willing to take on the role of educating future generations and the more memorable students who either brighten or darken their days! From trainee to his very first day standing at the head of a classroom and his progression through the ranks into senior management Ryan Wilson is candid about a profession that attracts a lot of negative publicity. Like Ryan, I too as a child loved to play at being an imaginary teacher, writing on my blackboard, talking to non existent pupils sat in front of me but never did I harbour a desire to turn that childhood game into a career. My sister on the other hand, despite being warned by those in the profession not to travel down that route ( and this would be the late 1980’s!) did just that, teaching in a primary school setting before opting to educate preschoolers. So I’ve witnessed first hand the dedication, the long hours, the total commitment to a job from which she never switches off, planning, preparing, answering endless emails whilst family life has to take a backseat. I admire anyone in a similar position to the likes of Ryan Wilson and my sister, never understanding why sections of the public believe teaching is a cushy 9-3 job with endless holidays, nor the attitude that “those that can do and those that can’t teach”. Written in an anecdotal, self deprecating humorous style Ryan Wilson regales the reader with tales from the coalface, his obvious love for teaching, his fellow colleagues and his students and his dedication and enthusiasm shining through every single memory that’s made its way onto these pages. Feeling like a fly on the wall I laughed along at his initial naivety, impressed by how quickly he adapts and learns, muddling his way through all the while keeping his fingers crossed he doesn’t make too many faux pas! It truly is a baptism of fire and I felt grateful not to be in his position because this job is not for the faint hearted. I know he’s cherry picked the most entertaining, amusing anecdotes to engage his audience but even then a day in his life sounds exhausting and draining. Clearly Ryan Wilson was an inspirational teacher, at pains to impart his love for English literature to all his students regardless of their ability. To spark interest and enthusiasm amongst students whose disadvantaged backgrounds can often hinder progress through the educational system must be highly rewarding so it’s heartwarming to read of some of the success stories (Chloe) rather than the failures ( the year everyone’s grades were lower than expected). Obviously it helps that Ryan Wilson was surrounded by equally inspiring colleagues, the more experienced passing on their nuggets of wisdom which left me feeling how lucky these students were to be taught by Mr Wilson and co. I couldn’t help but reflect upon my own school days when a great primary education gave way to a mediocre two years in a large state secondary before transferring to the local grammar school and eventually university. BUT never did my teachers resemble anything like that of Ryan Wilson. At best they were mildly supporting and encouraging but at worst they filled me with fear and dread, doing absolutely nothing for my self confidence. I blame one particular maths teacher entirely for my life long hatred of the subject and I even dropped out of my English ‘A’ Level class thanks to the sarcastic, condescending and belittling nature of the teacher in question. This all just goes to show how important a role teachers play in shaping childrens lives. A* to Mr Wilson and C minus to the lot who had the pleasure of marking my work! Not only is this memoir funny and enlightening but is moving and poignant too. My favourite anecdotes centre around Ryan’s relationship with mentor Liz and his fellow rookie teacher Zoé whom he shares many a laugh with over the years, helping each other through the highs and lows not only in their professional lives but in their personal ones too. You get a glimpse on the man he is outside of the school gates rather than just this saintly, idealistic advocate for the teaching profession as a whole. Inevitably it’s with a sinking feeling you learn that the higher up the ladder Ryan Wilson climbs, the less involved he is with what really matters, data crunching, ticking boxes and endless paperwork taking priority. Enthusiasm and his inherent love for the job dwindles as the level of frustration at how many hoops he is expected to jump through on a daily basis increases, understandably taking its toll. Is it any surprise to read the statistics about the numbers leaving the profession? Absolutely not! Any memoir regarding the teaching profession is going to include a political commentary on the current state of the education system and whilst Ryan’s reflections are impassioned I don’t think there’s anything new in what this ex teacher has to say. The dreaded Ofsted inspections, the budget cuts, the ever changing goalposts as Secretaries of states come and go ,changes to the grading of exams leading to confusion and yet more mountains of paperwork are all problems we are familiar with, teachers and parents alike. How do you go about changing a system that in my opinion is designed to be one size fits all, with so many students slipping through the net or lost in a vast system which doesn’t always recognise their individual strengths as opposed to their weaknesses? You won’t find the answers here, although the suggestions Wilson makes are pragmatic, requiring the involvement of society as a whole. Regardless of the politics I’d like to think the school environment is a more nurturing, inclusive and supportive place to be rather than the one I remember, populated with more teachers akin to Ryan Wilson than those who clearly detested their job and their students! Overall this is a well written ( why wouldn’t it be!!) enjoyable read, opening the door on classroom life and the struggles the profession faces. Last year I read Fran Hill’s “Miss What does Incomprehensible Mean?” and to be honest this memoir is very similar, in terms of writing style and content. Although easy to read, the briefer anecdotes especially lend an abrupt stop start feel to the reading experience which does mean you can pick it up and put it down without losing the thread. For anyone thinking of embarking on teacher training it might possibly leave you heading in the opposite direction! But as Zoé would say, I have utmost REPSECT for those who have given their all, and those who continue to do so in their role of educating, guiding and nurturing our offspring into adulthood. My thanks as always to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read in exchange for an honest review.
A brilliant, funny, poignant and insightful read. I love the layout and the order of the chapters. I love the anecdotes and the people we get to know. It not only resonates with teachers, but everyone who has experienced the UK’s educational system. I recommend this to all.
This was a great read and I think it would be enjoyed by anyone who has been or is currently a teacher, especially those that teach English. I loved Wilson's enthusiasm for his job and clear devotion to it: a born teacher. As I read on I marked so many funny stories which I know many teachers will have experienced similar examples: Sean and the Ofsted 'deal'; covering colleagues classes (or not!); teaching travel writing; decoding teacher speak during parents evening and report writing. Some of the stories were very short, brief anecdotes, really, and I wanted more! But there are the serious and throught-provoking moments: Wilson's experience with Martha, a complicated pupil of primary school age; the obsession with data being the driving factor behind too many decisions rather than the lived experience of teachers in post; the reality of school budgets; illness and death of respected colleagues... it is evident that life in any school is complex and demanding. The book is sobering at the end. How did we get there? I felt like I had lived so many lives during the duration of this read and that there is still so far for education to go. This is a book which reminded me of Adam Kay's 'This is going to Hurt' pithy humour based on lived experience with an important message for us all.
Oh my gosh what a fantastic book this is. Let That Be A Lesson was everything I expected it to be. It was full of funny stories from the author's time in teaching, from him being a student Teacher right up until he leaves the profession many years later. It also provided a fascinating insight into what teaching actually involves including the incredibly frustrating red tape and policies that determine how they do their jobs. My absolute favourite take away from this book is the hilarious mental image of Ryan standing in front of a class of teenagers whilst a sex scene is projected onto his face! Ha ha ha ha....... I loved how this book was written in bite sized anecdotes, it made for easy and fast reading. I wasn't left waiting long for the funny moment or the ending of the story. This format also meant that I wanted to keep reading to discover the next story and I just couldn't put the book down. Obviously the book can't be pure comedy as we all know there are some down sides to teaching, such as dealing with difficult and disrespectful pupils, knife crime in schools, pupils facing poverty etc And then added to those Ryan talks about the Teacher friends he made and unfortunately their deaths. So there are some sad moments that bring the difficulties of life in a school to the attention of the reader. I'm not someone who has ever thought that teaching is an easy job and even I was surprised to learn about a few of the difficulties. They just hadn't even crossed my mind, especially the times when the school were dealing with Government policy changes and issues with Ofsted. Overall an excellent well written, easy read book that I highly recommend.
Humorous and insightful look at teaching in an inner-city school. As a retired teacher myself, I could empathise with Ryan Wilson’s look at teaching. He writes with enthusiasm for what is undoubtedly a difficult job and one which gets harder with time. His many humorous anecdotes where hugely enjoyable and totally believable. He appeared to have an excellent rapport with the children he taught and also respect from his colleagues. The writing was easy to follow with short chapters for each situation. I also found the stories involving both Liz and Zoe extremely moving and poignant. Ryan himself was obviously a great teacher. What a pity he left the profession feeling tired and jaded. Too many men and women are trained in this profession but cannot ultimately stay in the job because of unrealistic pressures. This book goes some way to dispel the myth that teaching is an easy job with short hours and long holidays. Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me an ARC of this book.
A funny, warm moving and above all, passionate memoir on his teaching days. Although sadly no longer a teacher he gives a reasoned case for how education could, and indeed, should be done in England. The recollection of his teaching days are at times laugh out loud. These are tinged with moments of sadness including the passing of two colleagues. His love of teaching and seeing pupils succeed, whatever their ability, comes through clearer in the book. Criminal shame that he left teaching mainly due to the government obsession with grades and data.
I usually reserve 5 stars for books that leave me reeling with that wow factor and the knowledge I will remember the book for a long time after. This one gets my 5 stars because, as a now happily-retired primary teacher and mother of a currently stressed and close to burned-out secondary teacher, I was in a constant state of either vocalised virtual head nodding or full blown laughter. So much of this book resonated with me: the constantly changing goal posts of government policy, the erosion of trust in the professionalism of teachers and of course, the sheer joy of imparting some level of knowledge to funny, quirky, ultimately, for the most part, fabulous kids. I would recommend this book to anyone in the profession as a reassuring crutch to feeling you are not alone in your questioning despair at the system keeping you from sleeping at night. And to parents, who should gain a true insight of what goes into the daily routine of the teachers you might be criticising for policy implementation that is beyond their control. And the joy of this book is that, as serious as it is in its annihilation of the system, it is also laugh-out-loud funny and self-deprecating too. Ryan Wilson tells many stories against himself, not failing to tell tales of his own naivety and comic mis-handling of classroom situations as a young newly qualified teacher. Highly recommended.
Having worked in education every word of this book resonated with myself. A true insight in to gaining a PGCE, training placements and how you dive in as part of necessity. Pupil centred learning, looking at the whole picture, practical skills are becoming things of the past. Education is now a business not about the pupil and this book explores through personal experience how this has come about.
From someone like me who has been a primary school governor, and now is a teaching assistant, I know how Mr Wilson feels and he has the ability to write about education today with a huge depth of knowledge. The whole book is a joy to read with lots of humour, tinged with frustration and some sadness. I am also from the 'school' that agrees teachers work hard but are constantly challenged by statistics etc., the children in their care being let down by U-turns on policy and lack of funding. Another reviewer has agreed with me that "it's a book which is often funny, but its message is more important than the laughs." Nevertheless, well worth a read. Yes, Mr Gove deserves all the criticism aimed at him and, yes, an all party political body should be set WITH teachers on it! Thanks to Net Galley and Penguin Random House for the chance to read and review.
If only all teachers could be like Ryan Wilson! This is a wonderful book, I loved it. It should be compulsory reading for any incumbent Education Secretary. This book has short anecdotes about his teaching career, his pupils and his fellow teachers. At times hilarious, other times utterly heartbreaking, this book was so well written it was a joy to read. Although there were many lighthearted stories about the author's time in teaching, it shone a light on so many serious issues that need addressing in today's educational climate. Brilliant read.
Read and reviewed in exchange for a free copy from NetGalley. I really enjoy these fly on the wall memoirs, and it was good to read one about teaching rather than the usual medical ones. Wilson's book was interesting and entertaining, and was relatively easy and quick to read.
A funny interesting account of a newly qualified teacher, the lows and highs of our education system, students, and parents. A lighthearted view of the work that teachers undertake daily and how this increases as a teacher takes on more responsibility. Well worth a read.
This is now the second memoir of a teacher I have read and I have to say that I loved every word. Growing up, school was such a massively formative experience for me in both good ways and bad, well I'm sure it's the same for most people. I do have very mixed memories about my teachers but I'll be the first to admit that as students, we were very shielded from the pressures that they faced. We were told about Ofsted, when and why they would be in our classes and how important it was to remain 'normal' as they visited our lessons but it wasn't really a big deal to us. Little did we know how many hoops there were to jump through and how many seemingly random changes were being made to teaching as a profession. I know the statement "Those who can, do, those who can't, teach" generally paints teachers in a negative light but I think nothing could be further from the truth in real life. It takes a certain kind of love, passion and determinism to become a teacher and stick with it. For me it'll always be one of the hardest (and probably most rewarding) jobs in the world.
'Let That Be A Lesson' is honest, funny and my favourite non-fiction book this year! 'Let That Be a Lesson: A Teacher’s Life in the Classroom' is written by Ryan Wilson a former and experienced teacher based in the UK. Commencing during his year of teacher training, until his year final as a teacher, Wilson discuss both the highs, lows and the many, many varied moments in between. From classic advice such as "Don't smile before Christmas" (and I can confirm that this is TRUE!) to learning how to set appropriate targets, this book is an honest insight into the life of a teacher. Wilson does not attempt to overly dramatise his work, which would be easy or mock a much maligned profession but instead walks that delicate balance of honesty and humour in difficult situations. Well worth a read, for everyone - whether you are a teacher, parent or otherwise!
In ‘Let that be a Lesson’, Wilson takes us on a humorous journey through the educational landscape, from his career aspirations through the teacher training phase to his classroom management in a complex, often challenging school. At the heart of this book are, quite rightfully, the many different pupils, sensitive yet challenging, demanding yet appreciative, who pass through Wilson’s classroom and to whom he dedicates his career. The book offers plenty of emotional insights and comedic moments as they occur daily in classrooms up and down the country, but also sets out the background shaped by excessive workloads, unreasonable parental demands and insufficient budgets that will sadly be familiar to some teachers who had wanted to make their daily lives all about children. A snapshot of school life in the twenty-first century, this book is a genuine eye-opener and deserves to be read by politicians, Ofsted inspectors, school managers, parents, pupils and members of the public.
It could feel as if the genre of the ‘workplace memoir’ is getting a bit crowded, so I decided to read this one without much of a sense of expectation. How wrong I was! The author’s experiences in both the classroom and the staff room cover the full gamut from hilarity to tragedy and do so with an excellent writing style, a clear sense of compassion and involvement, and a burning desire to see his students and his colleagues in a position to do their absolute best. As a teacher myself I am fully aware of the stresses of the job and the misperceptions that surround it - this book dispels them all with humour, emotional intelligence and a clear understanding of what is wrong in our education system and what should be done to put it right. I hope this book ends up on the desk of every senior politician who has a stake in the education system, and that they read it from cover to cover.
Working in the education field, a lot of this book was very familiar to me, but the bit I really enjoyed more was about the progression up the line towards being in management. It is very good to read the thoughts of those there trying to implement the constantly changing things thrown at them by politicians from course changes, exam changes to budget constraints. A very good read and highly recommended!
I am married to a teacher, couldn't resist reading this. A very entertaining look at the life of a teacher. I laughed and cried. Highly recommended.
How can this be anything other than 5*? Witty, hilarious, inspiring, frustrating, downright bizarre - too true of any sort of teaching from Primary 1 to University (albeit with slightly different emphases). Should be compulsive reading and examination for all of those politicians who think that they know what education is, and certainly know better than teachers. Think again PLEASE. Thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Vintage for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review
Absolutely fantastic - having worked in schools for years every page of this hit home for me. Self deprecating and inspiring in turn, this is a brilliant memoir and a homage to the profession and the students we all support. A must read for anyone thinking of stepping through the doors of a school either as a job or as a parent.
A gentle romp through some of the very best bits of inspirational teaching alongside the more surreal experiences to be had. Well thought out with individual chapters focusing on aspects of teaching, many that parents would never even consider, such as the continuous presence and threat of Ofsted, the whims of the exam boards and the severe impact that politicians on their mission to the top can have. Thoroughly enjoyable- definitely does not make me want to enter the profession!
If you enjoyed Adam Kay’s warts-and-all account of being a doctor, This is going to hurt, here comes an equally good autobiography from a teacher. Ryan Wilson is an English teacher in a state school and his anecdotes are hilarious. My particular favourite was the pupil who - to Ryan’s horror- took the Mike and asked Poet Laureate Carol-Ann Duffy a question at an event in London. He is clearly a good teacher - optimistic and devoted to the kids - so his disillusionment with government policy hits home all the harder. You really understand how well-meant bureaucracy can suck all the joy and effectiveness out of teaching. Wilson also writes touchingly about his colleagues and the illness of two teachers he holds most dear. And he also writes about the struggle with his own sexuality and whether to reveal it to the children he teaches. Highly recommended: a funny, touching and personal account from an ex-teacher.
Let That Be a Lesson by Ryan Wilson documents his decade of experience teaching English in secondary schools in Essex and London. The book is structured as a series of short vignettes taking in his first lessons in the classroom, school trips, exams, inspirational colleagues and, of course, his pupils from the disruptive to the angelic. Wilson is clearly passionate about his profession, but also not blind to the problems caused by recent education policies. I was particularly heartened to read his defence of “eccentric” teachers who have decades of experience and a natural gift for truly inspiring their pupils to care about their subject, but who struggle to get to grips with the deluge of data-driven lesson planning now expected in the British education system in the last decade or so. All the teachers I know would certainly agree with Wilson’s common sense approach and recognise his dedication in this excellent, funny book.
Heartwarming, poignant and often amusing, Ryan's experiences in teaching give a great insight into this under-valued profession. He pleads passionately that education is more than just meeting targets and pleasing OFSTED. This should be compulsory reading for anyone connected with the educational system, including politicians and especially ministers for education.
A warts and all view of the education system. I found it very thought provoking and could see and agree with him why he is dissatisfied with the politics involved and the stress caused. There are some parts which are laugh out loud funny (literally) and moments of true sadness and all so well written. I’m sure many teachers will appreciate the book but I do hope it has a wider audience, as it deserves. Written in almost diary like segments, I found it hard to put down; with lovely descriptions of his interactions with pupils both as a class and individually. I learned a lot about modern teaching while reading it too! Thanks to Vintage and NetGalley for an ARC. My opinions are my own.
Let That Be a Lesson by Ryan Wilson is a thought-provoking and occasionally humorous memoir of a teaching career. As an ex-English teacher I often found myself nodding in vigorous agreement, recognising the politics thar have made teaching more difficult, and had my heart warmed remembering the students who made the job worthwhile. If you aren't a teacher this book is an education in itself. I hope once you've finished it you'll feel compelled to thank any teacher you know for their hard work. It occasionally hurt when reading this to remember why I left the profession. Like Ryan Wilson, I saw the changes in the curriculum and the mounting stresses. I salute him for his honesty and clear love still for a vocation that never truly leaves you. Read this and enjoy the lessons in hope, humour, and community along with the realism of stress.
Reading Ryan Wilson's 'Let that be a lesson,' I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. It's a no holds barred true account of his teacher journey - from a student through to his departure. It's incredibly well written and so absorbing - it's as though Ryan is sat next to you regaling you with stories of how his day went inside the classroom. As a teacher - I found myself agreeing with his viewpoints regarding how the government monitors and governs education. As a human - there were also times where I found myself tearing up when he introduced us to the colleagues that had made such an impact on his life. A must-read for all in education.
As the daughter and wife of teachers, this funny, uplifting and at times tragic book was very familiar to me. Warm and poignant, this tale of a 10 year teaching career paints a picture of change in the system and what has been lost.
This was especially relevant to me because of the years I spent teaching. I was able to appreciate the book as an insider. I would like congratulate the author for his work, and especially for keeping a sense of humour. Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for letting me have an advance copy, and I look forward to more books by Ryan Wilson.
Let That Be a Lesson , and it certainly was ! I'm convinced I would have never made teaching as a career because I simply would not have had the patience to deal with a class of , sometimes , unruly children. Having said that I am in awe of people like Ryan Wilson , who clearly is an excellent teacher any pupil should be proud to have him as theirs. The book was a great insight to the highs and lows of teaching , and there was plenty of both . A must read for any parent and person thinking of taking it up as a career.
A beautifully written, often very funny, insightful, sometimes painfully poignant view into the world of secondary school teaching
Date reviewed/posted: July 5, 2021 Publication date: August 19, 2021 When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you have personally decided to basically continue on #maskingup and #lockingdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #thirdwave ( #fourthwave #fifthwave?) is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. Plus it is hot as all heck and nothing is more appealing than sitting in front of a fan with a kindle! I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. The malodorous horrors of Sports Day. Bracing yourself for Parents' Evening. Refereeing teenage relationship dramas. This is not what you see in the adverts. From the age of eight, Ryan Wilson dreamt of being a teacher. This is the inside story of his time at the chalkface, from fresh-faced trainee with grand ideals to exhausted assistant head battling ever-changing government demands. It is a tribute to the colleagues who befriended him and to the chaotic, brilliant, maddening students who inspired and enraged him. From Sean, the wannabe gangster with a soft heart, to David, the king of innuendo, and terrifyingly clever Amelia. And, above all, it's about the lessons they taught him: how to be patient and resilient, how to live authentically and how to value every day. I don't know how parents cans deal with their kids, much less having to deal with helicopter parents who text all the time and get peeved if you do not answer back within 30 seconds...I know teachers who deal with this and parents who do this. Add in social media, drama and I am glad that I am in a research library most of the time and not dealing with that all the time. Some of the time, yes, not all...thank you powers that be. (A Ph.D. in education taught me that the parents are, well, as challenging as their kids are, and I did my in-class placements BEFORE the internet and social media!) This is a book that parents should be required to read before they make that text or ask for special favours - and one that teachers should read to know that they are not alone in their horrors and stress. (I admire the teachers in the UK 1000x more than those in Ontario, Canada, my other home but that is a whole BOOK in itself!) It is a quick read but an excellent read - take it to the beach (or your back yard, porch or balcony) and enjoy the dying days of summer. Just wear your SPF110 and keep 6 feet apart from others! I will recommend this book to those parents and teachers along with friends, family, patrons, book clubs, and people reading books in the park as we do … I have had some of my best conversations about books down by the Thames! As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it ✏✂ ⌨ 🎨 📚
As an ex teacher, all be it primary, I could immediately relate to Ryan’s comments about being a secondary teacher of English. His memories are both heart warming and thought provoking.
This book is an absolute joy to read, with several laugh-out-loud moments, but the underlying message is, that teaching is so much more than 9-5 days with long, relaxing holidays, it requires real stamina, endurance, a grip of chaotic Governmental rules, inspections, Department of Education interference, exams, students and even worse, the parents!! The dreaded parent’s evening where you have to remember one child out of the 120 you teach and are personally responsible for, that’s enough to make a teetotaller drunk!! I taught in an Institute of Higher and Further Education back in the 1980’s and really, the word Institute should have warned me!! Like Ryan, it was humorous, so stressful, but those moments when a student had that breakthrough moment of clarity and understanding, made it worthwhile for a least 5mins, before the next battles began. The word battle is appropriate, there were always funding issues, teachers off sick, so you had to teach subjects you knew nothing about, you just prayed you had enough confidence to throw the students off the scent, and got out of that class alive! I also had visits in work settings, in my case it was looking after NNEB students in nurseries, schools, private homes and hospitals, that included doing practical demonstrations, pastoral care, safeguarding issues, and many new guidelines introduced at that time. My daughter is now a teacher of English in a failing school in S. Yorkshire, and she loves it. She has been hospitalised twice, knife wound and an airborne chair, but still adores her charges. I keep asking her, why not teach in a private school, better discipline and resources, but she argues that children from poorer environments need good teachers as much, if not more, than the better schools. I do agree, but think her levels of stress and burn out would be greatly reduced. This book should be compulsory for the many Education Secretaries that teachers are forced to tangle with, to show them exactly what life is like in classrooms today. Teachers should be shown the greatest respect and admiration. I believe that the social lockdown policies that came about due to the COVID-19 pandemic, made us all appreciate how difficult it is to teach children, especially if they belong to you. Teachers deserve their holidays, I spent many Christmas holidays writing lesson plans, marking assignments and the dreaded coursework folders, they haunt me still. Well done Ryan for telling it like it is! I’m sure many will agree, but will still continue to brave the classroom on a daily basis. My thanks to Random House UK and Vintage publishers and Netgalley for my advance copy, in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. I give this a five star rating, and will leave reviews to Goodreads and other outlets. I feel that my daughter will get a copy of this for the staff room at her school.