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I’m becoming a teacher at 58 – this is why you should too | Lucy Kellaway | TEDxLondonBusinessSchool

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After 31 years as a prominent and well-respected Financial Times columnist, Lucy Kellaway has made the decision to leave – to be a maths teacher. There are many programmes encouraging fresh graduates to enter the teaching profession, but what about seasoned professionals? In her talk, Lucy will reframe the way we think about being an educator and why it’s more important than ever to be one now. Lucy Kellaway has spent the last three decades at the Financial Times writing columns that poke fun at corporate life, business jargon and management fads. She is the newspaper’s office agony aunt and inventor of the insufferable fictional character, Martin Lukes. In September 2017 she is leaving all this to be a maths teacher in an inner city school in London. In November 2016 she co-founded Now Teach, a charity designed to persuade high-flying fifty somethings from the corporate world to train alongside her. For nine years she was a non-executive director of Admiral plc. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
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Text Comments (173)
Regina Turner (5 days ago)
We teach math.
We need more teachers. I'm glad so many people in the comments have become teachers later in life. Being older is not a handicap, with all the experience they have and bring to the classrooms, this is very beneficial. I applaud you, this is fantastic news for the kids.
991 911S (25 days ago)
Excellent talk...was a VP in a Risk Management firm with over 20 years experience...switched to teaching Business in High School, took a $100,000 pay cut....Best decision I ever made. Good stuff here. I hear I’m a pretty decent teacher 👨‍🏫
22chachalaca (26 days ago)
When she she's that schools these days are zoos she'll be out in no time.
Jeff Lowe (1 month ago)
The simplicity of numbers!! Hahahaha. Hope there weren't any mathematicians in the audience. Good on you Lucy for giving it a go. I wish you all the best.
Karen Edwards (2 months ago)
i am 50. in 2 years I will be in china teaching english thats my goal
FRWHELAN (2 months ago)
I've heard it said that one of the great problems of our culture is that older people retire to golfing communities and are not passing on their experience and wisdom to younger generations. So much that was gained is lost. More primitive cultures understood the necessity of the wisdom of elders. We on the other hand only celebrate the uniformed, unformed youth.
Jibbie49 (2 months ago)
This sounds like a great idea. Listen to the TedTalk by Elizabeth White, an MBA from Harvard who wrote "55, Unemployed and Faking Normal" about how she found herself unemployed and no longer wanted by the corporate world. In a way she is now "teaching" others how to plan for their later years. I can see teaching as one area where age should be a good factor.
Okot Ray (3 months ago)
Teaching is the best job . . . I trained as a teacher because it was cheap. Now i want to retrain and work in health sectors. Teaching is better for old people with senior experiences in other fields.
Elizabeth Clark (3 months ago)
I really enjoyed this!
Wisepersonsay (6 months ago)
Congratulations on waking up to yourself and the truth. Teaching is a great job, which everyone should consider, paid or not paid. Teaching, mentoring and guiding the next generation is older generation's privilege. Some old people are just old, not having much to share with others, though.
Michael McGlashan (6 months ago)
I’ve just recently started working in a high school as an integration aide and love it. I am 57 years old and have worked most of my life as a tradesman. I am now looking at gaining my qualifications to become a teacher. I believe one of the most rewarding things that comes with age and experience is to pass our knowledge on to children. I received an email yesterday from my supervising teacher passing on thanks from a parent for the help I gave their child. I also learned the child had passed the course I was coaching him in. I felt so proud and happy.
M. 2018 (6 months ago)
Excellent talk. Thank you.
Esabelle Fletcher (6 months ago)
Excellent reminder for me. I have been teaching History and English Language for 23 years. Everyday is exciting and meaningful.
kazeegraphy (7 months ago)
I wonder if she survived her first year?
Blythe Forcey Toussaint (8 months ago)
I am now 58, also, and I am in my fourth year of the transition from corporate training and marketing to being a high school English teacher. So much of what you say resonates… I'm finally beginning to feel a little bit of light as I head into setting up for my fourth year. It's so nice to feel I'm not alone in this endeavor! From Colorado.
B Burton (8 months ago)
Public schools in the USA will lay you off on the first chance available. Agism exists. Try other routes to teach.
Carina Bellina (9 months ago)
I became a teacher when I turned 50, now I supply teach and loving it. I have the passion and enthusiasm. When I enter a classroom kids can sense my enthusiasm. I not only teach a lesson but I teach the whole child.
IshtarQueen (9 months ago)
well, she got the necklace right... looks what ONLY teachers would wear.
Christian Brian Bautista (9 months ago)
Very inspirational, I am in that transitional process and your talk really motivates and encourages me to keep on going with this dream, or project I left many years ago. Please keep working on this, I believe you will have much more impact by motivating other professionals to follow this path.
Dana Tietjen (9 months ago)
You're awesome Lucy!
Michael Hall (9 months ago)
I have become a teacher at 70 years old and its GREAT I did it because I had really no choice Id been a Hospital administrator for 30 years and it had become just too much As a "baby" teacher I have just received a new lease on life and start to enjoy my day EVERYDAY
MyNameIsNotImportant (12 days ago)
70 years old. Wow. I’m surprise you know how to use the computer
Jon Atkinson (16 days ago)
Wow. That's impressive
First Lady Stephanie (3 months ago)
Michael Hall (9 months ago)
Eklectik (9 months ago)
This is simultaneously very meaningful and very funny. Your positive energy is contagious.
Odette Uys (9 months ago)
If the teaching thing does not work out, she can be a stand up comedian lol
Dimitri A. (9 months ago)
Lucy Kellaway was an inspiration to me as a columnist at the FT, she is an inspiration to me as a maths teacher in comprehensive school. I hope to join Now Teach some day!
My Tiny Retirement (10 months ago)
Good for you!!!!
buddha ratna tandukar (10 months ago)
I love your voice and accent.
darksideofthemoon (10 months ago)
it was so funny, leading people to slaughter xD
Valerie Miller (10 months ago)
This was beautiful and inspiriting !!
Stefanie Reinert Jenssen (10 months ago)
Shared with friends on fb. Love it!
ahmad saeed (10 months ago)
If you like I suggest another name that came to my mind while watching, " No teach or never!"
anders damin (10 months ago)
How large is the population of people who would describe their job as "swanky"?
Leanne Usher (10 months ago)
I'm 47, and next year I will complete my Bachelor of Education as Primary Teacher. I have spent the last 10 years - and some before that - in Finance. My original training was as a dental nurse. Like you I'm terrified - but more than a little excited about what the future holds :)
ANGIE MAGEE (10 months ago)
Yes! I love this TED talk. So inspirational. It's a great initiative.
S Jackson (10 months ago)
SaGirl4U (10 months ago)
Well done! I am changing my BS Accounting/Commercial Manager 30 year career for Nursing
Shelley Solomon (10 months ago)
There is something that seems to be the norm. Matric certificate, degree and what colour are your grandmother's eyes. So blind to wisdom & experience. An intern teacher will get there.... but student Adults need it NOW. No offense here. Years of experience is priceless to the student in Business in the name of English. Students must speak up. I am there for you.
Ugochi Ike-Nwabueze (10 months ago)
This is exactly what i want to do when I'm older. in about 25 years time.
Beth Heinecamp (11 months ago)
I was listening to my local public radio station recently, and yet again they're doing more shows on --- guess who -- the 'Millennials'. I think I'm going to call in soon and suggest a show on 50-somethings. We're a special breed. We've been through a heck of a lot, and we still have time to change course if we are motivated enough. For me, I've been given a second chance. If you agree with me, like this comment! ha ha.
Driven home (11 months ago)
Lucy you got a lot of explainin' to do... and she has... She's a writer, that's for certain. Maybe a writer for a sitcom or even a stand up comedian for babyboomers. She has great stage presence.
Janet Parks (11 months ago)
Thank you, so much for this I am 57 years old and I am a freshman in college work on a business degree, I feel I am being lead to teaching, you have made me feel not quite so madd
Ana Acapella (11 months ago)
As a teacher, I think it's a joke how young I am and having to teach these kids when I've had the minimal amount of LIFE experience! This idea sounds amazing! But it will be a great struggle for them - but a struggle well worth it =]
Kelly Johnston (11 months ago)
Hi, Lucy, I am looking forward to hearing back from you after your first year as a teacher.
rpvgirl (11 months ago)
Very inspirational!
bronson mcdonald (11 months ago)
I think you will be a good teacher, because I believe you really want kids to learn. I don't think you will give up on any of them. one thing most of us have learned in life by our fifties, including me, is that we all learn differently. what works for one student may need a different approach for another student. I think you have the determination find out how each child responds to types of teaching/learning and will adapt to their needs, whatever it takes.
The Rail Nut (11 months ago)
I started teaching at 55 after 35 years working in advertising agencies and I'm having great fun for the last 5 years. Its all about giving back to the future generations what you've learnt.
Amy (11 months ago)
Loves!! And your name ma'am, reminds of my Momma, Lucille Harris, who left us after a harsh stroke last September. Much gratitude to you and your work!! Such inspiration!!
Abdullah Muhammad (11 months ago)
Teach on Lucyfer
Myron Steinman (1 year ago)
At the age of 57 I am not there yet...Yes I had a teacher in grade 7 named Mrs. Hallman.
Beautifulme (1 year ago)
The MAT program is so expensive I would be paying my loans until i'm 100
Tina Mar (1 year ago)
Wait until you have to deal with the parents.....
Rochel Geller (1 year ago)
You are so inspiring. I started teaching at age 40 and the floods of tears are true. As is the profound transformation in the lives of the children. And in my life. - I've needed deep EFT work to really help the Aspie-type ones. All the shame of "failing" before seeing how it was, actually working out well. Thanks for being so brave and open.
Donald Ciriacks (1 year ago)
In a few months I retire after teaching for 43 years....now, for some odd reason, I'm thinking of being a Financial Times columnist.
Donald Ciriacks (9 months ago)
Thank you
Basia Laufman (9 months ago)
ha ha, good luck to u
Zoubir Santouh (1 year ago)
Madame Santen (1 year ago)
Me too!!!
Carolina Vargas (1 year ago)
Loved it! So inspiring! Thank you! Lucky will your students be!
e Chackal (1 year ago)
I'm training to teach English online at 50
My Tiny Retirement (10 months ago)
Good for you too!!
Shelley Solomon (10 months ago)
Well done! It's the way to go in the future.
Stage 4 Life (1 year ago)
Awesome lady, awesome speaker and without a question, a soon to be awesome teacher. All the best.
roger komula (1 year ago)
Millennials aren't worth the sacrifice.
Birgit Fischer (1 year ago)
Lucy, wonderful :) Love your sense of humour and the encouragement you give to people! I will become a doctor age 50 ...
Jie Tong (1 year ago)
Appreciate her enthusiasm and motivation, but talks like this can be dangerous - bordering on propaganda, can't be too effective
rabele123 (1 year ago)
I was a Maths teacher and ran this gruesome gauntlet for decades. I have a message for her. You'll learn my girl; the hard way of course, but you'll learn.
Perri Sams (1 year ago)
I began my teaching degree at 53. I'm 58 now, and loving it.
M. 2018 (6 months ago)
- You are inspiring me. Thank you.
mydogneo (1 year ago)
I'm 57 and after over 20 years as a radio broadcaster and musician I will be teaching English in the Philippines this year. Thank you for the encouragement!
Driven home (11 months ago)
Along with other posts with TESL I was told and read many places that you couldn't get a working visa after the age of 35 in most countries, so how are babyboomers doing it?
Me, I became a School teacher at 46. Now, two years ago, I was promoted to an evaluator of government for College students' Teaching to other people is the best job of the world. I love your experience and am thinking more senior people should do it every day.
Lilly Sol (1 year ago)
I think she will be ace.
Carlos Rodriguez (1 year ago)
Teaching in US is not valued in most states, the pay is awful, young college graduates can not afford to pay back the educational loans and pay for food and housing with the low pay. Some work second jobs here in Florida just to make ends meet. Until States invest in the future by valuing education you will continue to have a teacher shortage or fail to attract the best candidates
Nicola Bonfanti (1 year ago)
I trained as a teacher 30 years ago then had a sales, marketing, coaching and training career. Got bored of it last year and thought about going back to teaching. Then found out about Lucy and the "Now Teach" group. That give me hope that I would find a job aged 56 ( which I have). The Now Teach doesn't help me as I'm already qualified and I want to teach Media, Film and English to help students think and these subjects are not focused on. But the whole new career after 50 idea has been inspiring. Thanks
Cheryl Bombenger (1 year ago)
You go girl! The education world will hire anyone and everyone who has the passion to teach with the enthusiasm you have...no matter how old you are!
zer0L0 (1 year ago)
I've enjoyed your articles in the FT, but I love what you're about to do and why. Thank you for being an inspiration. I've thought of doing this too.
Angelicatoo (1 year ago)
Did you say you were going to avoid the most difficult schools? surely those will be the ones that need the older, stronger teacher, and I would guess especially male role models.
Heather Griffin (1 year ago)
Karen Christensen (1 year ago)
This was amazing! It was just the 'shot-in-the-arm' I needed. I came from a family that didn't encourage you to achieve anything..... and finally at 53, I'm working toward my teaching degree. Doubts and uncertainties always seem to creep into the foreground of my mind (like "OMG what was I thinking?!") ...... but this just reaffirmed to me I'm making the right decision! You Go Girl !!
Travis Nunley (22 days ago)
Thanks for your comment, this is the positive side of the internet that makes the whole thing worth it!
Bill Hopkins (4 months ago)
Beautifulme (1 year ago)
What about all the loans?
Jacklin Terry Lathan (1 year ago)
Congratulations Karen! Thought I was the only one, you confirmed some things for me, thanks for sharing. Your destined for greatness, trust the process. You go Girl! Make it happen!
K Brown (1 year ago)
Karen, this is perhaps one of the top 3 talks I've seen. Not only did I feel inspired as a young 50-something, but I don't feel so bad now about being rejected--just today--by Teach for America. I have classroom and administration experience, was a tutor for several years, ran an afterschool program at five Los Angeles elementary schools, hold a bachelors in business, and am 3 classes away from a masters in leadership! Yet, they passed on me! Keep on moving towards your goals...you will make it:-)
Sonia Kiran (1 year ago)
What an entertaining talk backed with real life lessons. Older people will give up corporate jobs to find meaning in life. Helping the next generation to master skills which were taught without computers. We need more people like these to look beyond their hi-fi jobs and get to sharing their experiences.
myassessment adres (1 year ago)
She looks soo young , so vibrant and dedicated
bisou desetoiles (1 year ago)
I would love nothing more than my child getting educated by wise elders who have sailed the seas of life through so many challenges, changes and world events.  my mother is 65 and totally proficient in new technologies and such.  This is a fabulous idea.
Jennifer Olmstead (1 year ago)
Very inspirational! Best wishes to you!
Thelma Jenks (1 year ago)
After a successful first career, you have infinite wisdom to impart! Teaching is my second career as well..
Tammy Evans (1 year ago)
Home schooled children before releasing them into the school system...decided to teach Special Ed. At 52 !
Lisa Niles (1 year ago)
You have all my support.....at the age of 52, I moved to China on a year's contract to teach English after being an accountant for over 30 years. I thought that I was alone in making such a 'drastic' decision so I quite appreciate your experience. I started just last September and am enjoying it tremendously . It feels like I'm on a year's vacation. I don't drag myself out of bed each morning and I have more than enough life lessons to teach my students. Go for it, you will succeed......I am convinced that the difference we will make is that we focus not only on teaching subjects but also on teaching students.
lidya natalia (8 months ago)
Lisa Niles wow.... Amazing experience....
Lan Mai (9 months ago)
Lisa Niles Thanks for your share. I’ M also an accountant for over 10 years and I want to become a teacher next year but sometimes, I confuse about how to change the job and start a new one because I’m 35s now. I think That I’m quite old to start a new job....
Vilbrun Louisderson (9 months ago)
Lisa Niles n
Beaut1fulC (10 months ago)
Lisa Niles hi cuzz
Tamika Montgomery (11 months ago)
I love your story! I will be 51 when I leave for China next year. I have worked as an administrative/executive assistant for about 30 years and I want my remaining working years to be on my terms. Congratulations on your new life and thank you for the inspiration!
Optimus (1 year ago)
Don’t worry Lucy! You’ve got this!! I’m looking to what happens and I am hoping that even if we get one good teacher out of this, you’ve done a great job not just at teaching but inspiring others to teach.
bluesskywoman (1 year ago)
You go, Lucy!!! Hope your math teaching is going fantastically well. Loved your talk!!
Nøeva (1 year ago)
Go for it !
Mark Daniel (1 year ago)
omg I want to bone her 8===D
Bethany Lade (1 year ago)
I find this inspiring. I very much wanted to be a teacher, but life doesn't necessarily go as planned. It's nice to think I can still do it.
Paula Stein (1 year ago)
It's a good idea to start something new ...good for the mind.
Frank Fahrenheit (1 year ago)
Great announcement. Now we have to wait 1 year until the next TeD talk Lucy provides tells about her experiences in front of a class? What I don't get: when I would make such an announcement in front of 9.7 million subscribers (ok, 12166 viewers) I would only do that if I were sure that this is a real thing. Means, I would have done some trial math teaching, e.g. homework support for teenagers. Not a single word about doing that, or did I miss that?
Sarah Napper (1 year ago)
I suspect she is more prepared than she makes out - classic British understatement & makes for a better talk..!?
KAF128 (1 year ago)
I quite like her. I too am starting to train to teach Maths - at 53.
Susy Garcia (1 year ago)
KAF128 pls be a good teacher, I hate the fact that math does not come easy for me.
Asteri ETERNAL (1 year ago)
Bon Summers (1 year ago)
Work in construction as a construction worker.   Who's going to build the structures?
Jack (1 year ago)
I could learn to live with a woman who makes me laugh.
Janis DavisJanis (1 year ago)
You will have to clean up your language!
Roses Flowers (1 year ago)
Janis DavisJanis. Her English sounds proper. Better than Americans.
Susy Garcia (1 year ago)
Janis DavisJanis bogus
pri vacy (1 year ago)
They are not going to hire you in U.S. past age of 40
HTNPSullivan (1 year ago)
Schools try to get rid of teachers who have been teaching for 20-plus years because they've worked themselves up the salary ladder, and are accruing pension benefits. That's different from someone just starting out at 50 or older, they will most likely be at the lower level of the pay scale and won't have a pension fund for a while. Also, there are all sorts of "fast track" certification programs these days, it varies from state to state, but is well worth finding out about. Also, if you're going into special education, math or science, these teachers are in high demand so this could boost an older person's chance of being hired. And one more thing, although this is sexist thinking and isn't supposed to be taken into consideration, but if you're 40 or 50 or even 60, the ones doing the hiring will be thinking about the fact that you don't have little kids at home -- which means fewer absences. I think that if you're older, you need to be prepared to prove you understand today's classroom technology. So much is done with iPads, and "smart boards" and other computer programs, so you need to have a handle on that.
Clare McHugh (1 year ago)
John Smith We do . Without thought I know of a dozen off the top of my head . For example , the city of NY has a graduate program specifically for people with undergraduate degrees who have been in other trades or professions to get a graduate degree in education and teach . It's free if you agree to serve for a couple of years in an underserved area . Many are over 40 , possibly the majority of them .
John Smith (1 year ago)
what dont they hire teachers over the age of 40 in the US? why?
Clare McHugh (1 year ago)
Victoria Matthews wrong on tenure also .
Clare McHugh (1 year ago)
Victoria Matthews well , your basing your opiniin on very limited information , limited personal experience and no effort at all .
Mark Barlow (1 year ago)
Wow, just brilliant. Although I'm not going to jump into teaching in a classroom, I teach scuba diving, something totally different to my 32+ years in Public Service
Cicely Brown (1 year ago)
Thank you Lucy - just how I feel too.. I'm doing the PGCE School Direct route via UCL. So far I've come across a lot of "career changers" like ourselves, and don't worry - if you want to take that route, those Qualifications people can find your O Level results in a trice (for a modest fee).
Hallam Hope (1 year ago)
Soo funny "I love Lucy".
Brian Johnson (1 year ago)
I think it's a bit irresponsible for her to encourage other people to do this. She should wait until she's done this for a while before she makes recommendations for others follow her lead.
Pete P. (7 months ago)
Sorry my Hindi-English translator is acting up... something about a teacher’s age of decorum being between 58 and 60...??
Usha Dayma (7 months ago)
+Pete P. टीचर की आयु मर्यादा 58 परसे 60 वष् ्् होगयी उसका जी आर. या जजमेन्ट हिन्दी भाषा मे अभी लोडी़ंग करो
Pete P. (9 months ago)
She has self-confidence! But more importantly, she also has confidence in people to properly evaluate their situation and not just follow her like lemmings. In his program “Leadership: An Art of Possibility” Ben Zander says “ ... it is the characteristic of a great leader that he never doubts the ability of his people to do whatever he envisions for them. Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr. had said “I have a dream... but I’m not sure that they’ll be up to it.”
My Tiny Retirement (10 months ago)
I got more out of her talk than that. I thought it was very inspirational.
Mayah (1 year ago)
Hi Caitlyn! Can you tell your math teacher that she is an inspiration and gives strength to those like me, who wishes to become a teacher after 50 years old, thank you so much and good luck!
I might become a teacher, but I don't want to because it's so fucked right now.
Ntandoyenkosi Zungu (1 year ago)
love her voice and accent
NGUYEN MINH HAO (10 months ago)
I 'm studying English but do like to talk with American accent. THKS
Sammy Rivera (1 year ago)
first dislike
Caitlyn Allen (1 year ago)
And your proud of it 😤
rezaime (1 year ago)

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