My book review of 'Re-educated' by Lucy Kellaway


by Lucy Kellaway
by Lucy Kellaway

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 about 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 put this book down - now I have to decide on my response. What will I do next?!

Review date: May 2021
Publication date: 1st July 2021