How I changed my job, my home, my husband and my hair
by Lucy Kellaway
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Pub Date 1 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 1 Nov 2021
Ebury Publishing, Penguin Random House, Ebury Press
'I am immersed in a new world that feels a long way from my old one. Though I've not been re-invented, what has happened is just as radical and a lot more interesting: I am being re-educated.'
Lucy Kellaway had a comfortable life. For years she had the same prestigious job, the same husband, and the same home. To the casual observer, she was both happy and successful. But one day, Lucy began to realise that the life she had built for herself no longer suited her. Was it too late to start again?
The answer was no - so she proceeded to tear down both marriage and career, and went back to school. Retraining as a teacher, Lucy discovers there is a world of new possibilities awaiting her - and learns that you can teach an old dog new tricks (providing they are willing to un-learn a few old ones along the way).
A witty and moving story of one woman's pursuit of a new life, Re-educated is a celebration of education's power to transform our lives at any age, and an essential companion for anyone facing the joy - and pain - of starting again.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 61 members
A frank and engaging account of what happens when you upend your life and all that you know in your fifties. Financial Times journalist Lucy Kellaway leaves a well paid, comfortable but what has become boringly predictable job to retrain as a teacher. At the same time she leaves behind her stagnant marriage, her four children all now almost grown, and the family home because she has fallen head over heels for a house - a wooden, ramshackle house that will leak and take all her savings but makes her heart sing.
The account of her first few days in her new job as a Maths Teacher in an East London school gave me palpitations. With no explanation of any of the terminology and no guidance as to how to use any of the technology, she is plunged straight in and is chastised at every turn, although thriving on the camaraderie from fellow teachers. Undeterred, she carries on - whilst many other new recruits fall by the wayside. It consumes her every waking moment and she realises she is loving it.
The book raises many interesting issues about the benefits of privilege, which Kellaway is the first to acknowledge she holds; the advantages and disadvantages of carrot and stick methods of education, the constraints of the curriculum, how to reach students who feel the subject has little or no relevance to their lives. Overall, it's an inspiring, uplifting read - showing that nobody's path is fixed, a change of direction can occur at any age and age is no barrier.
I will be honest and never heard of the author before reading this book. I don't buy newspapers and really don't take main stream news as accurate these days. The title of the book drew me in and I really enjoyed the transformation of her life. Very much along the theme of feel the fear and do it anyway, the main body of the book is the transformation and finding joy, the latter part very much trying to understand the UK education.al system. Would generate some excellent discussion and make a good book club choice. Well written, well it should be!, flowed well and a very honest memoir. Thank you #NetGalley and #EburyPublishing for the copy to review.
Back in the day, when I worked at a bank rather than being retired, I used to read the Financial Times six days a week and did so for many years. I considered it the best-written paper in the English language. And the columnist that I enjoyed the most; #1 of the two or three that published columns once a week; and to whom I would turn before reading the rest of the paper, was Lucy Kellaway. If I considered Ms Kellaway the best journalist at the best paper on the planet, did that mean she was the best journalist in the world? Yes, in my opinion. As she writes in this book, she expended “… a prodigious amount of effort in an attempt to make it look effortless.”
I felt bereft when I read her column, announcing her departure from the paper because she had decided, in her late 50s, to become a teacher. Bereft but awestruck – I had recently read that modern teaching in the UK is more akin to crowd-control than it is to the knowledge transfer I received fifty years ago from teachers that we treated with respect.
Ms Kellaway has now written a book about her change of career: how she thought it would be easier than it was; how important teachers are; and how the most important things about teaching are not those she expected. She writes the bitter truth that no-one likes to acknowledge: the most important thing a teacher can do is to help a student pass an exam. “If it’s a teacher’s job to open doors, those doors, under the present regime, are GCSEs.” One would like to think that the teacher has inspired and enthused the pupil; has instilled a lifelong love of the subject. That would be great – but it’s not as important as passing the GCSE because, without the GCSE, the student might be unable to take a particular A-level, Without that A-level, they would be unable to study a specific subject at university – and without that relevant degree, they will be unable to follow the career they desire.
I really enjoyed this book. Lucy’s realisation about how hard it is to teach – and how lucky she is that she has already had a satisfying and financially rewarding career, thus can afford to decline promotions and to only teach three days a week – is gripping. She is brutally honest (as always): “In this new world I’m an innocent and a know-nothing who is stumbling about clumsily.” I also enjoyed the reflective questions: why does one child work and another one doesn’t? Is it possible to change who you are as a result of changing your job?
There is one point that I still find hard to believe: when a teacher is giving a lesson, would a senior teacher really interrupt that lesson and say “You aren’t allowed to teach in backless sandals. Have you got any other shoes in school? Otherwise you must go home and change… Yes, now.” Really? I think “petty-minded and power-mad” are the kindest words that spring to mind.
Like some other reviewers, I loved Lucy Kellaway's columns (and podcast version) in the FT so this was a must-read, as I have been so intrigued by what happened next. I found the book sharp, witty and honest - and it gave me so much food for thought. I loved the mix of personal and professional, and how the author is willing to be self-critical as well as critical of some of the strange, inexplicable policies and experiences she deals with. I'm in my early fifties too and also enjoyed reading about people of my age embarking on a demanding new career.
Important thoughts on what education means for all of us and the place it should have in our society. Lucy’s decision to change career was brave and inspiring and hopefully this will encourage more people to value the hard work teachers do.
An easy and enjoyable read that I found inspirational - having just turned 40, Kellaway’s story of her later in life transformation certainly gave me the invigorating sense that I have many more chapters in front of me. I didn’t agree with all of her views but the passion behind them is evident and I was willing her on to succeed in her new life. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
This is a ripper of a book. It's easy to read, funny and I found it hard to put it down. Although this is focused on making life changes in your 50s and 60s. I think anyone thinking about changing careers or making a big life decision should read this. It's a great account of taking a leap of faith. Although, at times I found Lucy sanctimonious, I wanted her to succeed and enjoyed her self-deprecating, critical and honest account. This is a lesson on self-awareness and belief that things will be okay if you put the effort in.
thoroughly enjoyed this book, even if I did find myself regularly asking my kindle to provide a definition of some of the words. The author was a previous writer for the FT and I left this explained the wide use of vocabulary.
She has written about her own life and the changes she made. This was very interesting reading and provides inspiration that to those thinking of a new career path. It is refreshing that the author acknowledges her privilege and wonderful that she is continually prepared to learn/adapt around subjects such as racism.
This was a book I wanted to keep turning the pages on to find out more about the ladies life and also how she got on when she started teaching and how this progressed.
Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
An engaging and worthwhile read relating the true story of Lucy who decides to have a complete change in her life. Certainly interesting from the point of view of a reader who is a little older than the author and admirable in the route Lucy decides to take, teaching. The book does tackle some more serious issues about the privilege of . class, money and ethnicity. There are some interesting observations about education today including discipline and the 'carrot and stick' approach, plus the inside workings of a modern day academy. Also, that teaching and the curriculum focusses too much on academia and results whereas the country is in much more need of practical skills for life, plumbers and electricians rather than investment bankers. The book would also give some hope of a change of direction that, maybe a more mature person may have to take not through their own choice. Overall, a read that would make the reader think of possibilities
As a retired teacher I found this a fascinating book . To change your life for something simple is one thing, but Lucy Kellaway went the whole way. She moved house, separated from her husband, and in her fifties re trained as a teacher. Oh, and she did change her hair too.
The book is a very frank account of the problems and joys that beset someone beginning a new career. To leap into a class of teenagers, with little support or preparation is not for the faint hearted. Primary school age could possibley have been less challenging. But Lucy somehow manages to see the vulnerable, sometimes funny, side of her pupils and grows with them., maybe surpassing her own expectations of her ability.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a chance to read and review this book.
'Two years later, I have a clearer idea of what it is I'm trying to do. Changing lives turns out not to be about making instant transformations - it is about hard slog and tiny, incremental improvements. This realisation has changed my own life- or at least how I teach, and the sort of teacher I want to be.' - Lucy Kellaway
Over the course of two years Lucy Kellaway, a former Financial Times journalist left her marriage, switched jobs to become a teacher, changed her hair and swapped her North London family home for a modern house in Hackney. Re-educated is a fascinating look at how, no matter what your age, you can completely transform your life.
The strongest and most interesting parts of this book for me were Lucy taking us through her day as a teacher and the tricky beginnings as she got used to life in the classroom. I also loved to hear about Lucy falling in love with her modern Hackney house. I hope a picture of it will be included in the book as she describes it beautifully and left me intrigued.
I really admire Lucy's bold decisions to shake things up in her life and for anyone considering making a major change, this could be food for thought.
After a successful career in journalism, and having raised a large and happy family, the author leaves it all behind and becomes a teacher. Brilliantly inspiring and entertaining. Haven't been able to stop telling people about this book!
The subtitle for this book is misleading.
It states 'How I changed my job, my home, my husband and my hair'.
Yes, the author changes her job, leaving her role as columnist of the Financial Times after 30 years, to retrain as a teacher, and to start an organisation enabling others to do the same. And she does move house, separate from her husband and stop dying her hair at around the same time.
But this book, for me, is more than a middle-aged woman becoming disenchanted with her seemingly comfortable, successful life. It is instead an impassioned plea for people to consider a career change in later life.
The author begins work at an ARK school in London and she describes with humour and conviction what she discovers about herself but also about the young people she meets and the education process in general.
How much does money motivate teenagers in driving them to study, for example? What does racism mean for young people today, in the classroom, the exam room and in the playground? Why is it important to teach the curriculum, with the eye on the exam rather than oversee discussions and give life lessons? Many of her (and the readers'?) preconceptions about the education system are challenged and stripped away.
The author is a dynamic, strong-willed, single-minded individual who comes over as rather intimidating, but her drive and determination, and her desire to engage more mature teachers, is hugely appealing.
Motivations alter as you reach middle age and without so much pressure to earn more, climb the career ladder or become distracted by home and personal life, why not do something that will make you feel more fulfilled and which will help the next generation, she argues.
She writes with great immediacy and energy. You feel exhausted by all that she achieves, but also invigorated. I found I couldn't stop turning the pages, greedily hoovering up all that she had to say and I've not been able to stop talking about it ever since.
It's funny and inspiring, enlightening and stimulating.
And it's a call for action. Having enjoyed her determination and ambition vicariously, I found it difficult to finish this book - now I have to decide on my response. What will I do next?!
Although this is focused on making life changes in your 50s and 60s. I think anyone thinking about changing careers or making a big life decision should read this. It's a great account of taking a leap of faith. Recommend
What happens when you reach 57 and blow up your whole life. A house, a marriage and a successful career as a FT journalist - boom. All gone.
What happens is, you scare yourself silly, and feel fully alive again.
Not only did Lucy Kellaway re-train to become a secondary school teacher, she also inspired and supported others to give up their careers to join Now Teach. Not all would make it. Not all would like it. Many would quit. But more would come to relish the challenge, and the sense of giving back.
An extremely candid glimpse into one woman's journey into education, or rather re-education. Self-deprecating, wise, warm and inspiring, a thoroughly enjoyable read.
This non-fiction read is both interesting and empowering. This is based on exactly what it says on the cover, it gives an account of the time in Lucy's life where she decided to give her existence a complete overhaul, including a very big career change. I found this part of the read incredibly relatable as I am on my own personal career pathway.
This is the perfect read for any non-fiction fan who enjoys well-written memoirs, with everything you'd expect when reading about someone's life choices. There are ups and downs throughout, but the author's determination to overcome what is needed is motivating and impressive.
Re-educated; How I changed my job, my home, my husband and my hair by Lucy Kellaway is the true story of how Lucy Kellaway changed so much of her life, and became happier than ever.
I very much enjoyed reading about the author's journey, and of googling the house that caused so much of the change! This is a positive story, and one that is well written, unflinching in the places of pain and suffering, but overall, a joyous read!
Re-educated was published on 1st July 2021 and is available from Amazon , Waterstones and Bookshop.org .
You can follow Lucy Kellaway on Twitter .
I was given this book in exchange for an unbiased review, so my thanks to NetGalley and to Ebury Publishing .
Really enjoyed this book and the way it was written. I have a few friends who have had similar epiphanies during later life but it was good to see the reason why someone has made the decisions they did and what the initial decision of wanting a house then caused other changes a long the way. A very inspiring tale of passion to give back and make a difference. hats off to Lucy.
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