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Let That Be A Lesson

A Teacher’s Life in the Classroom

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This is a tribute to the extraordinary and largely unsung work done by teachers of the country every single day.

Chatto & Windus
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Ryan Wilson


Ryan spent ten years teaching in comprehensive schools in the South East and London. As a child Ryan pleaded for a full size blackboard and chalk for his eighth birthday; this memoir is an attempt to trace how that wide-eyed eight year old metamorphosed into a teacher who felt he had to give up his career in education. It celebrates the joy of teaching, the characters inhabiting the classrooms, and the unbridled satisfaction of a lessons that genuinely made a difference. But it also shines a light on the challenges: the obsession with data and exam results, the pressure of lesson observations and the tyranny of Ofsted.

It’s also a deeply personal story, covering the tragic deaths of two of his closest colleagues, and Ryan’s struggle to come out as gay. Wrestling to reconcile his sexuality with a religious upbringing, Ryan finds himself in the position of learning from the children he teaches about how to be comfortable in his own skin.


‘A frank, funny and long overdue ode to teachers and teaching’
Adam Kay

‘An ode to teaching: hilarious, touching and so terrifyingly true’
Lucy Kellaway

‘If you want to know what the world of schools and classrooms is really like, this is your book. An unputdownable account of Ryan Wilson’s teaching years that describes the absolute reality of teaching in UK schools including the good parts, the bad and all that is ugly. I was captivated by Wilson’s honesty and vulnerability and loved reading and exploring every minute of this familiar world’
Andria Zafirakou, 2018 Global Teacher Prize winner

‘A delightfully frank and funny book – with a very serious message’
Jacqueline Wilson

‘A hilarious love letter to teaching – and to teenagers. It throws open the doors to the staff room and our ears to the gossip inside’
Christie Watson

‘A rollicking tour of the joy and havoc of modern education. Ryan Wilson was clearly a brilliant teacher who seems to have experienced every catastrophe a school could throw at him. Appropriately for a book about schools, I learnt a hell of a lot from this. Full of passion warmth, wit, wisdom… and even some Latin. Not just funny and constantly surprising — but touching, poignant and personal too’
Jeremy Vine

‘Laugh out loud funny – every teacher who reads it will cringe with empathy’
Laura McInerney

‘This entertaining memoir of 10 eventful years at the chalkface further illuminates the debt of gratitude we owe teachers, as Wilson brings a generation of brilliant, mischievous, horny, rowdy, disinterested and disruptive teenagers to life. But it’s also about the lessons his pupils taught Wilson: how to be patient and resilient, how to live authentically, and how to value every day.’
The Bookseller, Editor’s Choice

‘Funny, sensitive and clever’
Victoria Derbyshire

‘Read and admired it hugely. A book spoken from the heart, the heart of a born teacher. In turns, honest, self-deprecating, enlightening, moving, and funny. Ryan has been a devoted, inspiring and creative teacher, the kind we need and children need, but after 10 years was driven out of the classroom, like so many, by the impositions of a flawed and failing system in which education, the education of the whole child, has become marginalised. This is a powerful and important book which explains why we are losing so many of our most talented and inventive teachers. One day, I hope, he will think again. Such teachers are all too rare.’
Michael Morpurgo