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"Educated" by Tara Westover

Updated: Jun 4


Several years back, I read Tara Westover’s highly acclaimed memoir, Educated, about growing up in a survivalist family in rural Idaho with no connection to modern education, modern medicine, or any part of the modern world. Neither she nor any of her siblings had any formal education, yet Westover made her own way to Brigham Young University and eventually to Cambridge where she earned a PhD in history. Educated explores questions related to memory, family, medicine, culture, and education. If you haven’t read this remarkable book, I highly suggest it. She tells a compelling story that reads like fiction.

I heard Westover in conversation with Dave MIller of Oregon Public Radio’s, Think Out Loud, speaking at Oregon’s Literary Arts. [https://www.opb.org/article/2022/04/11/rebroadcast-tara-westover/]. Their conversation is rich and wide ranging. Miller asks Westover for her views on contemporary public education and homeschooling, as her brother Tyler, with whom she is very close, homeschools his kids. I was interested in Westover’s comments about public education and homeschooling and found that her opinions overlap with mine. She said she cares very much about education and would certainly offer her own children something different from her own lack of formal education growing up. But she also commented that she has many criticisms of contemporary public education, including that it is institutionalized, passive, and sclerotic with its main objective being to create good workers. She wants something more expansive for her own children if she chooses to have any. She wants them to learn to think, to love reading and to be lifelong learners.

Westover’s ideas about education resonate with my own. Courses at Animari Education are designed to cultivate critical thinking, develop solid writing skills and investigate our environmental problems. If you or your children are looking for an educational option in alternative education–one that values structure and learning but without the restrictions, limitations, or regimentation of public education, I hope you’ll explore Animari’s offerings. There may be something for you!

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