Redundancy: One Year On

Today marks one year since my redundancy from Bletchley Park. ⅓ of the workforce was in the same boat (notably, ⅔ of the Learning Team, following the general narrative of education being hit particularly hard with redundancies across the cultural sector). I was lucky in being able to walk straight into two part-time teaching roles within days of leaving, but many struggled to find work in a highly competitive sector with drastically reduced funding.

A hand raising a glass of Prosecco
This was taken a couple of days after my redundancy came into effect!

Since then, aside from my teaching roles (one of which I still occupy) I have completed a number of projects as a freelancer. Looking back over the year I am astonished by the range of things I have done, both independently and with my ex-BP Learning dream-team colleagues (and friends) Catherine and Kate, who were made redundant alongside me.

I've completed projects with Potential Plus UK, the University of Northampton, the Open University, Museums Sheffield and the Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, the Leicestershire County Council Museums Service, the University of Nottingham's Museum of Archaeology and Lakeside Arts Centre, and others. I'm currently working on a project with GEM, and about to get started on another with the Motor Neurone Disease Association

Alongside all this I've presented at a conference, made new contacts and connections, and completed the first year of my Master's in Education with a Distinction grade in all assignments.

It's been a tough, busy, interesting and very satisfying year, and much of it would never happened had I not been made redundant. Choosing to go back to teaching part-time was terrifying, but it was a gamble I'm glad I committed to.

My intention, here, is not to show off (although I am proud of myself): it is primarily to record what I feel is a milestone in my own life. Secondarily, it's potentially a datapoint towards confirming the hypothesis that Things Can Change: I've broken somewhat free of the traditional nine-to-five; I am, at least for part of the week, my own boss. All it took, in the end, was the kick up the proverbial that my redundancy provided.

Thirdly, I'd really like to hear the stories of other people who were hit by the Great Cultural Sector Jobs Implosion of 2020 (especially other educators), either privately or in the comments:

  • Are you freelancing too? Feel free to describe what you do and post a website link or contact details.
  • Did you find another job? How? What and where?
  • Are you still trying to figure things out? Do you have plans that have not yet come to fruition? What are they?
  • What are the main lessons that you have learnt from the whole experience?

Calculating 5th Roots - IN YOUR HEAD!

Multiplying a number by itself (e.g. $ 6 \times 6$, or $6^2 $) is relatively easy. Going back the other way - finding out what number has been squared to get a particular result (or finding the "square root", e.g. $ \sqrt{36} $) - is tougher: you need to either just know the answer or just guess it (and, of course, square it to see if you were right, and then if you're wrong have another guess, informed by the outcome of your first one).

Cubes (the cube of 6 would be written $ 6^3 $, or $6 \times 6 \times 6$, for example) are similarly relatively simple to calculate compared to cube roots (e.g. $ \sqrt[3]{216} $), which also require a bit of trial-and-improvement (if you're working with secondary-school level maths).

Raising numbers to the 5th power (i.e. $ 6^5 $, or $6 \times 6 \times 6 \times 6 \times 6 \times 6$) is, again, fairly easy (though you'll probably need a piece of paper), but working out a 5th root (so, figuring out that $ \sqrt[5]{7776} $ is actually 6) involves quite a bit of guessing, trying, failing, and guessing again.

Except... if you're trying to work out the 5th root of a number that is the result of raising any two-digit number to the power of 5 there's a rather nifty trick that you can use to do it in your head. Indeed, with relatively little practise you'll be able to calculate 5th roots quicker than someone who doesn't know the trick can bash it into a calculator.

I described this trick as part of a 24-hour maths marathon broadcast in October 2020. You can find out more about the event here, but if you'd like to find out how to calculate 5th roots in your head really quickly, watch my section in the player below:

If you'd like me to add a readable description of the trick to this post, please let me know in the comments!

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