Book Review: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
Can someone who has never been to school since childhood get admitted to Cambridge University? And also become a Ph.D.
Introduction of Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. Reality can bewilder and be more inspirational than you think. When you are sluggish, full of complaints about life, full of disappointment in life, you can read this powerful and shocking autobiography called a miracle, the author Tara Westover is not a celebrity, but her experience is more legendary than any contemporary celebrity, This book tells about the author's own real life.
Because she was born in a Mormon family, she never went to school or went to school before the age of 17.
However, she insisted on not giving up, and finally, through self-study, she was admitted to Cambridge University Philosophy at the age of 23. master. 28 Earned a Ph.D. in History from Cambridge and changed his life.
As soon as this book came out, it topped various bestseller lists in the United States for 80+ consecutive weeks.
Bill Gates made a special recommendation on his talk show, and the world's richest man said: "This book will be enjoyed by everyone, it's better than what you've heard."
Book: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
About the Author: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
Tara Westover is an American author living in the UK. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father's junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist, and midwife.
She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom, and after that first taste, she pursued learning for a decade. She graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a Ph.D. in history in 2014.
Check out what Tara Westover, the author of this true story, said herself:
- People only saw that I was different, a mountain girl who had never set foot in a classroom before the age of 17, but she was shining brightly in a Cambridge top hat.
- But only I know who I am. My childhood was made of scrap copper and iron in a junkyard, where there is no reading sound, only the roar of machines. It is education that gives me a new world and infinite possibilities in life.
- Education means gaining different perspectives and understanding different people, experiences, and histories.
- If people are educated, they should become less certain, not more certain.
- Educated people should listen and see more, be passionate about differences, and love ideas that are different from them, not rigid.
- As women, we need to be freed from subterfuge and prove ourselves as independent people.
- Express opinion, take action, defy compliance. I have lived my whole life being told by other people. Their voices were sonorous, authoritarian, and absolute. But I never realized before that my voice could be as powerful as theirs.
This autobiography is recommended in the 2018 book lists of The New York Times and The Economist. The first book on Bill Gates' favorite book list in 2018 is this book "Educated".
This excellent memoir, with unbearable sourness and unremitting efforts, is a manifestation of courage and self-help, and a manifestation of the powerful power of education.
Reason for Recommendation: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
This is a very powerful autobiography. The content in the book is derived from the author's real life. It tells the story of the author who was born in a Mormon family and did not have the opportunity to go to school since childhood but eventually changed his life through education.
One of the most shocking books I have read this year. This year's annual book lists of The New York Times and The Economist include Tara Westover's autobiography, Bill Gates' 2018 favorite book list The first is Educated by this unknown author.
10,000 story background, the most satisfying reading experience, unbearable sourness. This brilliant memoir is a manifestation of courage and self-creation and the silent power of education.
Book Summary and Experience of Reading "Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover"
What kind of book is Educated?
At the end of the year, major media will generally select the must-read books for each year. If you pay attention to this year's list, you will find that there is a book that appears on almost all annual book lists.
The author of the book is not a celebrity, but an ordinary girl from the mountains of the United States, but this book has become a phenomenon since its publication in February this year, and has received a lot of praise from the media and celebrities.
Bill Gates even wrote a long review of the book on the book community Goodreads. The name of the book is Educated
Educated is an autobiography by Tara Westover who was born into a devout Mormon family in the mountains of Idaho and has seven siblings. Her father, a survivalist, believed that the end of the world was imminent, so he went to great lengths to stock up on food and daily necessities.
He doesn't trust the government, doesn't give birth certificates to his children, doesn't send them to school, and doesn't even believe in modern medicine - every time someone in the family gets hurt he asks Tara's mother to treat it with traditional herbal medicine instead of taking it to the hospital.
This family environment makes Tara seem to live in an isolated island, and can only understand the world through the perspective of her parents, and think that this is what the world is all about.
The transformation happened when she was 17 years old. Tara's older brother, Shawn, has an abusive personality. After Tara was beaten badly by him, her other older brother, Tyler, persuaded her to go to college to leave the family and helped her with algebra.
Although Tara had not attended school before, she miraculously passed the ACT test with her strong self-learning ability and was admitted to Brigham Young University in the United States.
It wasn't until she went to college that Tara realized how limited her previous education was, common sense that many of her peers knew, such as the Holocaust and the African-American civil rights movement, she had never heard of.
At university, she studied extensively in psychology, history, political science, and philosophy, and began to look at her father's mental illness and her entire family upbringing with fresh eyes.
Her family tried to prevent her from continuing her education, but she resisted and traveled across the ocean to study at Cambridge University, where she eventually earned a Ph.D. At the same time, she and her family of origin have also drifted away and are heading for a break.
The title of the book Educated does well because it accurately encapsulates the author's struggle to educate himself and regain his life. Academically, Tara Westover is an extremely gifted student who can learn almost anything through self-study.
In the book, the author once told a story: When she first went to college, she failed the midterm exam, which meant she would lose her scholarship. She interceded with the professor and received a promise from the professor that as long as she got full marks on the final exam, her mid-term exam scores would not be included in the total score. To this end, she started self-study and successfully got full marks in the final exam.
More valuable than academic achievement is her ability to self-dissect and educate herself. The author grew up in a family environment that had a huge impact on her, including a lack of common sense, limited vision, and fear of intimacy, but she struggled to get rid of these influences through self-education step by step, and eventually returned to her family of origin. separate.
It was undoubtedly one of the hardest decisions she had ever made, but it was a path she had to take to grow up, as the book says:
“You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them,” she says now. “You can miss a person every day, and still be glad that they are no longer in your life.
For the author, everything she has done and the painful struggle she has experienced is ultimately to pursue more truth, to have her own independent thoughts, and to build her own independent world. This is also the essence of education:
Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind.
I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, and many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create.
It is recommended that interested students read this book and realize self-education and growth in the new year.
Reading Experience: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
I read this memoir with strength and hope at times, but powerlessness and heartbreak at times.
Tara Westover was born in 1986 to a Mormon survivalist family in the mountains of the United States (Idaho). With no birth certificate, no hospital visits, and no school day before the age of 17, Tara was wrapped in a dead body. In the isolated and closed space, she can only see the world through the perspective provided by her parents, thinking that this is all.
As she moved out of her hometown to get an education and eventually a Ph.D. at Cambridge, her relationship with her family was slowly torn apart.
This book does not describe too much the complex cultural beliefs and family factors behind it, but focuses on describing Tara's personal struggles and growth, how she struggled between the "concepts instilled by her native family" and the "current educational views",
and how she struggled with The tear of the original family, how to self-exploration self-analysis, self-education, and finally, to change yourself and build your own independent world, and the author's precious courage to face the suffering time and time again.
Despite the hardships and the serious shadow of the original family, Tara never gave up, insisted on studying, reading, and thinking, and finally no longer self-doubt and became a new, independent, and powerful self.
As described in the book:
The decisions I made after that moment were not the ones she would have made. They were the choices of a changed person, a new self. You could call this selfhood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal. I call it education.
What makes this book shocking is that the author was not born in a previous era, but almost the same age as us. The awakening of the author's independent personality and education gave her a new perspective on her family and the world.
She re-examined her father's mental illness, her mother's cowardice, and her brother's violence against her. A world is torn apart, growing through trauma, reconciling with myself.
The world is too big and too complicated, there are too many unknowns and differences beyond imagination, but education allows us to learn to think deeply, learn to be compatible, and also subtly reshape us.
Here are 3 of the most interesting things I learned from this book:
- Tara Westover grew up in Idaho in a survivalist family with little education.
- Slowly, she overcame her childhood setbacks and entered college, where she had great opportunities.
- In the end, she had to make the tough decision to distance herself from her family and finish school.
Are you ready to hear an interesting story? This story will inspire you to appreciate all that you have. Let's go!
Lesson 1: Tara grew up on a fundamentalist farm with little homeschooling or real-life experience.
Tara was born into an isolated family in the Idaho Mountains. Her mother raised children and was well versed in herbal medicine, and her father ran a farm and was the head of the family. Her father's thoughts were extreme and often dangerous.
He argued that the public school simply brainwashed the child so she and her siblings were "homeschooled". This is a bit of an overstatement because while her mother did teach her some history and math in a few places, most of what she learned was by reading books and trying to solve problems on her own.
That's not the only weird part of her family life, though. Her father was extreme in many beliefs. Because he doesn't believe in hospitals and modern medicine, Tara never saw a doctor and was born at home. Family members suffer from all kinds of pain, from concussions and even blast burns, with only herbal remedies.
She has a good relationship with some of her siblings, though one of her brothers, Shawn, sometimes attacks her verbally and physically, and her parents won't intervene. Another older brother, Tyler, took the time to study and was able to get into college. It was her brother's example that sowed the seeds for Tara's own hard work.
Lesson 2: When she enters the real world, she finally leaves her abusive home and has an excellent educational opportunity.
Tara grew as she got older, and her goal was to go to college, despite her father's strong desire for her to get married. She tirelessly taught herself grammar and math to get a good enough ACT score to get into Brigham Young University. When she was admitted, her father tried to stop her, but Tara had made up her mind.
Note: Tara's efforts are not in vain, the more difficult it is, the more she has to persevere. Self-help, God help!
For her, college life is like opening another window. Unlike rural life in Idaho, Provo is a fairly large city. She was surprised to see roommates doing things like wearing off-the-shoulder clothes or shopping on Sundays.
It was here that she went to the doctor for the first time in her life, and she was surprised that it wasn't such a scary place as she had been taught by her father. These experiences made her realize how far apart her previous reality was from the rest of the world.
But another thing that surprised Tara was how hard college life was. She struggled, even remembering how her professor stared at her in disbelief when she asked what the Holocaust was. But she didn't give up. Tara continued to study hard, started getting good grades, and even started to impress her professors.
Her efforts paid off and she was offered the opportunity to do research at Cambridge University. There, she impressed her professor so much that he even guaranteed her a spot in the Ph.D. program there.
She was forced to make the difficult decision to cut ties with her parents in order to complete her studies.
Tara is very popular at Cambridge University.
She enjoys learning, especially about feminism and the many radical beliefs that grew up with her. Tara was taught from an early age that women should be submissive, so she was always uncomfortable with being a woman. But she made a lot of friends and started to relax because she finally felt like she belonged.
Domestically, however, the situation is deteriorating. Her sister wrote to tell Tyra that their brother Sean had violently attacked her and that his threats were getting worse. But their parents did nothing.
When Tara was awarded a visiting fellowship at Harvard, her parents seized the opportunity and made one last aggressive attempt to control her. They came to live with her in her dorm, and her father gave her a choice: go home or be seen as a threat to the family.
Her dad says it's the satanic demon controlling Tara, and he needs to get him out with a blessing. If she receives the blessing, her worldliness will be washed away. If she accepts, she knows it shows she accepts his twisted reality, but she can't and doesn't want to do it anymore. So she refused.
The decision was so frustrating for her that she had a nervous breakdown and could barely finish her dissertation. But she eventually found the strength and focus to get the job done. Dr. Westover has not spoken to his parents for many years. But she eventually felt like she had found herself and remained close to her family.
Book Review: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
What would you do if there was such an American girl, born into an ordinary family without power, who never went to school before the age of 17, but was admitted to the university through self-study, completed her Ph.D. at Cambridge, and became a visiting scholar at Harvard, what would you do? Evaluate her life?
"Oh, it's another life-changing story of education."
Many people may have a similar reaction to the above, thinking that this is a rather inspiring experience of counterattack. It is not easy, but it is also very common. It just confirms the possibility that children from poor families can successfully turn over and achieve a class jump through education.
But for Tara Westover, the protagonist of the story, in addition to inspiration and counterattacks, there are also unimaginable cruelty and abandonment. The meaning of education to her is far more than "change" fate".
All this is because she was born in an extremely religious family. Her childhood was full of various teachings and even violence. She did not receive a school education because her family did not allow her;.
Fortunately, Tara came out, and she also wrote her autobiography "Educated: A Memoir" about her disgraceful past and her escape from life. Behind the popularity of the United States and touching thousands of readers, is a girl who uses education as a weapon to fight ignorance and find herself.
Childhood covered in madness and violence
In September 1986, in the peaceful and peaceful mountains of Iowa, a poor family welcomed the birth of a baby girl, Tara. Before she was born, there were five older brothers and one older sister in the family.
From the surface, this family was no different from any other family in the area. Although the family of nine was embarrassed, they supported each other and worked hard to live a small life.
But what is different is that Tara's father is an extreme Mormon, he adheres to the strict and perverted canon and uses this as the norm of husband and wife and family education.
As the world's largest emerging religion, Mormonism, which was born in the early 19th century, shares the same beliefs like Christianity, but advocates returning to the earliest and most primitive state.
The extreme Mormons, on the other hand, live devoutly ascetic lives, and regard preaching and faith as the top priority in life.
In Tara's memory, she was not allowed to drink Coke since she was a child, she was not allowed to dress revealingly, and she was not allowed to go to the hospital when she was sick or injured, "because she had to wait for God to heal herself."
The father, the head of the family, is also the unquestioned authority of the whole family. This man who makes a living by recycling and disposing of scrap metal keeps brainwashing his wife and children, trying to convert them into religious believers as crazy as himself.
If it's just strict adherence to the teachings, that's fine; the bad thing is that Tara's father is also a "dangerous" anti-governmentist who, in short, doesn't trust any government agency and insists on dealing with them To the kind of people who do it.
He believes that the media serving the ruling group is full of lies, and simply throws out radios and televisions, refusing to "brainwash";
He doesn't trust the police, he thinks they are watching him all the time, and he will be shot dead if he is not careful;
Not to mention hospitals and schools, doctors and teachers are all spies sent by the government and are absolutely untrustworthy.
When his father was at his craziest, he once declared that doomsday was coming, and then hoarded food and guns like an obsession, thinking that only in this way could he survive smoothly. In Tara's words, the weapons that my father bought at that time "could shoot down helicopters", and the whole family lived in fear all day long.
Growing up in such a family environment, Tara, the happy family, the friendship she met on campus, and even the playground and lollipops all seemed like a distant dream.
Her life was under control - what to wear, what hobbies, what kind of social life were all limited, it was a difficult and rough time, home was like a very paranoid and lonely boat on the ocean, Her childhood was spent on horseback in the mountains, helping her father pick up trash...
However, spiritual poverty is accompanied by physical torture.
Children who have been under the dictatorship of their fathers for a long time are often in deep pain and unable to vent. Tara's second brother, Sean, found a channel to vent his anger in extreme depression - beating his sister.
Tara still vividly remembers the horror to this day.
The second brother was talking to you with a smile one second, but the next second, he would grab your hair, slam your head against the wall, press down on the toilet, and curse words like "prostitute" in his mouth.
In fact, Mormonism has always had a tradition of "preference of sons to daughters". Polygamy was once allowed, but it was only abolished in 1890. For Sean, beating women is not contrary to the teachings instilled by his father, so he has become more and more reckless and violent. for pleasure.
One day when Tara was 16 years old, the second brother started punching and kicking herself again as usual. She slumped to the ground weakly, the corner of her eyes swept away the indifference of her father and the cowardice of her mother.
In my life, I will probably only be accompanied by despair, Tara thought, letting tears fall from the corners of her eyes...
The university entrance exam, a glimmer of hope in despair
The turning point in Tara's life came from the third brother, Taylor.
Of the children in the family, Taylor was probably the most restless. When he became an adult, he did not follow his parents' arrangement and found a physical job near his home. Instead, he completed his high school courses in private and managed to apply to the largest religious school in the United States, Brigham Young University.
As far as the educational level of the siblings is concerned, they are actually similar. Since they have not attended primary or middle school, they are basically supported by the basic reading and writing skills taught by their parents when they were young.
Tara learned the news of the third brother's admission, and she has a deep understanding in addition to worry - when you know that this may be the only way for you to escape from your family, why not work hard?
Of course, the third brother's rebellion also greatly angered his father. He was so angry that he cursed, threw things, and threatened Taylor, "If you dare to go out, you will never come back!"
In the face of his manic father, Tyler walked away without looking back, the road of hope was at his feet, and it was absolutely impossible to give up.
Before leaving, he told Tara that if he had a chance, he must see the outside world. "Once you leave your father, you can see the real world."
These words were like seeds, planting a trace of life in her heart.
At the same time, Tara was also tormented by an extreme lack of self-confidence - she didn't even go to elementary school. How can she go to college, get an offer, and make a way out like her third brother?
After many inquiries, Tara learned that the key to college is the ACT. You have to pass this exam before you have the chance to apply.
With the hope of "escape from life", Tara bit her head and bought exam preparation books with the change she had saved from her part-time job. Pull up to seize every opportunity and study hard.
After the lights went out late at night, before getting up to work, Tara desperately compresses her rest time, and her desire for knowledge lights up the night.
Under the dual effect of God's reward for diligence and her own intelligence, a year later, Tara also received an offer from Brigham Young University like her third brother. She never went to school but created a miracle.
Perhaps the break between the third brother and the family set a precedent. When the news came, the father just snorted coldly but no longer prevented Tara from going to school.
However, when he met others, he still took the story of his children who had never been to school but could be admitted to the university as a case to demonstrate the correctness of his religious beliefs and political ideas.
At that time, Tara had no time to take care of her father's ignorance and stubbornness as always. She was immersed in the joy of finally being able to go out, but she didn't know that the real test had just begun.
Self vs Family
Education has become her greatest strength
Before the age of 17, Tara thought that her life was already fixed, she would get married early, marry a worker or a farmer under the arrangement of her parents, and then have children and spend the rest of her life in the mountains;
But at the age of 17, when she was admitted to the university, everything changed drastically. She went out and came into contact with a whole new world that she didn't understand before.
This world is completely different from the world she was born in. In the pull between the new and the old, she was once "split".
Tara came to the classroom for the first time and felt a completely different way of education from her father's brainwashing. She was also surprised to find that drinking Coke would not die, and it was their right for girls to wear cool clothes in summer. Many of our teachers are not so-called "spy agents", but good people who are diligent and down-to-earth.
At the same time, she also felt out of place.
In the past, she did not wash her hands after going to the toilet, and she was used to the house being full of rubbish without cleaning up. She didn't even know what "Europe" and "Renaissance" were. Decades of closure and limitations.
When Tara innocently said in class that she didn't know what "massacre" meant, the whole class fell silent. A friend who was close to her stared at her and said slowly, "This joke is not funny at all."
Because of similar ignorance, Tara was embarrassed. Every time she ran to the library to look up materials, she learned a lot of things that she had never heard of or understood at all.
It was education that opened the door to a civilized world for her.
It can be said that in her school years, Tara spent all her time studying, with an almost greedy desire for knowledge, she relentlessly explored the world as it was.
who I am? What is my society like? What is my role here? The unique experience makes studying without the slightest utilitarianism, but full of true torture of individuals and education.
In this way, Tara graduated from Brigham Young University with excellent grades. When the professor read her graduation thesis, she was also amazed by her simple thinking and down-to-earth attitude, which made Tara's thesis one of the most outstanding from what she has read over the years." the best one".
And Tara is also walking down the road of learning.
Under the recommendation of the professor, Tara applied for a full scholarship established by Bill Gates and went to Cambridge to study for a doctorate in history. During this period, she also went to Harvard as a visiting scholar.
She is no longer the ignorant little girl in the mountains, but with the abundance of knowledge and in-depth research, she strives to climb one academic peak after another. She became Dr. Tara.
The process is sweet and painful.
Every time she comes into contact with more and fresher knowledge, she transforms into a new self, and at the same time, the past self is abandoned once. She was becoming more and more unbearable when she stayed home during the winter and summer vacations. It was the most intense moment when the old and the new collided. Neither she nor her family could convince anyone.
Later, Tara described this ambivalence in her autobiography:
"What happens when one's obligations to family conflict with obligations to friends, society, and individuals?"
No one can make decisions for Tara, only herself.
The summer after Tara got her Ph.D. from Cambridge, she went home and thought about a problem she had been thinking about over the years.
She said in front of her parents that she was beaten by her second brother Sean in adolescence, and she needed an apology.
Facing her daughter's request, the timid mother was silent, the father was furious, and asked her daughter if she wanted to put her brother in jail before giving up. Sean walked out without saying a word, and when he came back, he handed his sister a gift. A bloody knife.
Sean told his sister that he had just killed the family's pet dog "because he was disobedient" and warned Tara that if she was smart, she should kill herself.
Amid the death threat, Tara felt sad and ridiculous. She finally realized that she had no ability to change her father's stubbornness, her mother's weakness, and Sean's cruelty. The only thing she could do was to choose her own position.
Tara left, broke with the Westover family, and waved goodbye to the little girl from the past. Between the family and the individual, she was still forced to choose to be loyal to herself.
Many years have passed, and Tara has no contact with her family of origin and has not seen her parents for a long time, but she is not unhappy - at least, she has achieved great academic achievements and gained more teachers and friends. The most important thing is that she has finally become herself, a self who is no longer at the mercy of others.
Family, which should be the warmest harbor, brought Tara the deepest harm. In the process of going out, she constantly reflected on her own growth experience, constantly experienced self-doubt, and in the conflict and tear with her family, she jumped up and down, finally accepted her true self, and gained inner peace.
Although the ending was not "happy for all", Tara has not yet obtained "understanding" from her parents, but she wrote:
After that, my decision was not what they expected.
These decisions don't belong to "she" in their eyes but come from a changed person, a new self.
You can put many labels on it, such as growth, transformation, hypocrisy, betrayal...
But my description is
- This is my "education".
Interview with Tara Westover, author of "Educated"
Education is not about vocational training in the narrow sense, but about self-creation
Tara Westover, American historian, and writer. Born in 1986 in the mountains of Idaho. Having never attended school before the age of seventeen, he was admitted to Brigham Young University through self-study and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2008.
He was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and obtained a Master of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge in 2009. In 2010, he received a scholarship to study at Harvard University.
He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Cambridge in 2014. In 2018, her debut novel "You should be like a bird flying to your mountain" was published. In 2019, the book was named "Influential Person of the Year" by Time Magazine.
The following is compiled from an interview with author Tara Westover by Bill Gates, The Oprah Show, and Forbes Magazine.
Q. Why did you write this book?
One of the reasons I do is because when I was going through the process of losing my own family, I became very sensitive to the stories I was exposed to, in film or in novels, or even in advertising.
And it seemed to me that stories were very important because what they did is they told us how we were supposed to feel when we were supposed to be proud and when we were supposed to be ashamed.
And I was going through this process, I was losing my family and I didn't 't know how I was supposed to feel about that. I didn't know how I was supposed to believe that I was a good person when my parents didn't. When I had confronted them about my brother's violence they had decided that I was lying.
And they had taken it to such an extreme that they had begun telling people I was possessed. And II didn't have a story for how I was supposed to feel about myself when my family felt like that about me.
so I wanted to write a story that was about family loyalty. I felt like we had stories about family loyalty but I didn't know if we had stories about what to do when loyalty to your family was somehow in conflict with loyalty to yourself.
I felt like we had stories about forgiveness but I wasn't sure that we had so many stories that didn't conflate forgiveness with reconciliation or didn't treat reconciliation as the highest form of forgiveness.
In my life, I didn't know if I would be able to reconcile with my family or not but I needed to believe that I could forgive them regardless of that.
|Bill Gates in conversation with Tara Westover|
Bill Gates in conversation with Tara Westover
Q. What do you think of the family of origin?
You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to him; you can miss someone every day and still be glad that he is no longer in your life.
For a long time I wondered, just because I love my family, am I making the wrong decision? Also, because I miss my family deeply, I have fallen into self-doubt many times, and there is a voice in my heart that keeps repeating: "Because I miss them, I must have done something wrong."
It took me a long time to realize that yes, love is simple. The last time I saw my dad, he gave me a stiff hug and said, "You know what, I love you so much." I replied, "Of course I do, that was never the problem." I've always known that Dad loved me a lot, and of course, I don't think Dad did it because he didn't love me.
But when we try to control and change others in the name of love, that love turns sour. This is not the true meaning of love. If you love others, you will love unconditionally and give back to your loved ones the right to choose themselves.
If you say, I must change the people I love so that I can possess them forever, then that is not loved at all, nor the value and power of love. So I want to say to my family that I still love them now.
Even though half of my family has been cut off from me, even though I have to accept that they have to change to come back into my life. Whether or not they will change is beyond my control.
Q. How did you decide to stop living by the framework your dad set for you and find your true self?
I look at it all from a different perspective, rather than sticking to what's going on right now. For me, if my future is doomed without the participation and support of my family, I would rather choose to leave first.
I think everyone is like that. We grew up in our own families, we were shaped into what we were, and we always thought we could break free and reinvent ourselves.
But once we go back to the old environment, it will go back to an endless loop. Or worse, children who grow up in unhealthy home environments will seek out people in the outside world who can repeat the cycle with us, many of whom will never break free for the rest of their lives.
I love a quote from the Bible: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." The beauty of faith is that it makes people believe that there is a better world, a World, believe that we can live a different kind of life and experience the love you have never experienced before.
But to abandon the past and imagine the future requires a combination of faith and education. Only when the two complement each other can we meet the unknown life and expect different changes.
Oprah in conversation with Tara Westover
Q. Why is the book named Educated?
The education that my story wants to refer to is not vocational training in the narrow sense, but self-creation in the broad sense. I worry that our conception of education has become too narrow and too focused on job skills.
My education changed me. Ultimately, it gave me a new perspective and confidence to stand up for myself in a way I never could. If you taught me Excel or how to program, I don't think it would work that way.
With the development of automation and globalization, the competition for jobs is becoming more and more intense. The jobs crisis is something we have to take seriously, but education is another. Ideally, your education does prepare you for a job search and success.
But education doesn't solve these big problems of globalization or automation. It will not solve our inequality crisis. When you put pressure on education to solve huge economic and historical problems that education can't really solve, the things that are supposed to help individuals live more fulfilling lives are taken away, leaving them to be good employees, to make Something that benefits employers.
Q. What do you think the role of a teacher is? How did you become completely self-taught?
Ideally, you really want to learn, and you have the opportunity to reach out to a Nobel Prize winner who can tell you how to learn. But if you're a kid who doesn't want to learn, you'll gain nothing from having a Nobel Prize winner teach you compared to kids who really want to learn. You can't force people to think, and you can't force them to learn.
I like to think of teachers as advisors, as a resource. Education has never been a discipline for me or something I do every day without thinking. My education is completely in my own control. If I came to design the education system, I wanted to attract the best teachers and I would have confidence in them.
I want to at least give kids the belief that they can take control of their lives and make them feel that what they learn is in a sense their own responsibility and decision.
Q. The uneducated members of your family still maintain the original values, while you and your two older brothers chose to leave home to go to college and have achieved very good results. Do you think this polarization is a problem?
I do see this differentiation as a problem, and that is the fact that social fault lines are becoming more pronounced with the level of education. So the educated people think this way, the uneducated people think that way, and then there is quite a bit of animosity between the two groups.
People originally just disagreed on things, but now they suddenly change to think that the other party has ulterior motives, and they don't even think of the people on the other side as human beings.
I find it really disturbing because education has been part of the reason for this. We say that education is a universal right that everyone should have, but it's not. Some people have access to a lot, while others have little access.
I think education is really just a process of self-discovery, developing self-awareness and ideas. But the more we get together with the same kind of people and make schools a reflection of people's homogenization, then I think schools become a tool for crowd differentiation.
I think education is a great mechanism for connecting and balancing resources, and when it becomes a tool for differentiation, the consequences can be a little dire.
Tara Westover on Education
Q. Your education has set you on a path that changes your worldview. Do you think this is inevitable?
I don't think it's possible for anyone with multiple perspectives to have the same worldview. This is true whether you grew up in a very conservative or very liberal environment.
I think education means gaining a different perspective and understanding different people, experiences, and histories. If all of this doesn't change your mind, the problem might be you.
Q. How can education help people listen to each other more deeply?
I want to say to people: Get an education, but don't let your education rigidify into arrogance. Education should be the expansion of your mind, the deepening of empathy, and the broadening of your horizons. It shouldn't make your prejudices more stubborn.
If people are educated, they should become less certain, not more certain. They should listen more and talk less. They should be passionate about differences and love ideas that are different from theirs.