Book Review: Re-educated by Lucy Kellaway

Lucy’s weekly column in the The Financial Times that I subscribed over a decade ago always carried wit and charisma through which she dispelled the condescending talk of business executives, explaining that speaking clearly is way better: pointing to contrarian nature of such behaviour, used often to rather hide malpractice or incompetence, than project professionalism.

It was a breather published in a rose-golden classical newspaper that still aspires to carry the high standard of reporting business news (for the very same reason I value the Weekend edition, especially its Books section).

The newspaper definitely lost after her leaving for a terra incognita domain of becoming a teacher: a no less vicious world than business, where cutthroat instincts of pupils can devour even the most upstanding character, as they follow reputation systems of their own.

A retelling of this journey — ultimately successful — in a book Re-educated: How I changed my job, my home, my husband and my hair — was a favourite several days during the long-yearned summer holiday of 2021.

The book about a noble venture of inviting successful people in their 40ies and 50ies to share their experience in school is captivating on several levels:

  • it tells that the industry that is built on standards that young relatively inexperienced education professionals can uptake — is incompatible with the career school of someone born outside of it: successful bankers and career diplomats are destroyed by both what they are required by the system, A-level exams, parents.
  • it tells a personal story as to how people cope with the pressure and meagre motivation compared to their prior levels acceptable to weather the high stress.

It is again told with the same wit and bluntness. A good book it is.