By Lucy Kellaway
I think most of us wish we – or one of our kids – had had a teacher like Lucy Kellaway. Passionate about inspiring young minds, she puts a lot of thought and effort into working out how to get through to them. Perhaps having had a very successful and demanding career (as an FT journalist) before becoming a teacher, coupled with a genuine desire to do something meaningful as her second act, has given Kellaway extra reserves of tenacity. But it’s more than that. She is also determined that older people with something to give shouldn’t be written off, but redeployed in genuinely useful ways.
What’s really thrilling about Kellaway and this book is that when she decided to become a teacher in her late 50s, she also created the opportunity for others to make the same transition at a later stage in life, co-founding Now Teach, the charity that helps career changers become teachers. As Kelloway recounts it’s a career choice that is absolutely not suitable for all – being a show-off with a brain is not enough, you also need to have an altruistic bent and lots and lots of energy.
Some Now-Teachers have not stayed the course (as observers sneeringly predicted would be the case). But those who’ve stuck with it have genuinely found a whole new lease of life. Recounting her progress as a trainee teacher in a Hackney state secondary in 2017, Kellaway points out that it’s clearly not for the fainthearted. Petty rules have to be adhered to, exams do matter, and your views don’t always count – and all for a fraction of the salary it deserves. But the rewards are many.
Kellaway recounts her life overhaul – marriage, home, career and hair – at a rollicking pace, and it’s frankly thrilling to join her on the ride. In fact it’s not hard to see how she gets people to listen – whether that’s fellow teachers, Government bigwigs, teaching bodies or surly children. Totally inspiring.