Monday, September 16, 2019
Born to Mormon survivalist parents opposed to public education, Tara Westover never attended school. Instead she spent her days working in her father's junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. Taught to read by an older brother, her education was erratic and incomplete—until, at the age of seventeen, she decided to get a formal education and experience the world outside of her isolated Idaho community. Spanning many powerful and universal themes, her bestselling book, Educated, is an account of the struggle for self-invention and gets to the heart of what education is and what it can offer as a powerful tool of self-invention.
Tara Westover spent her childhood and teen years preparing for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches, stewing herbs during the summer for her mother—a midwife and healer— and in the winter, salvaging in her father’s junkyard.
Self-motivated and driven, she then taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. Without a primary education—without even a birth certificate or exact birth date—she was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. After that first encounter with education—which was both uplifting and devastating—she pursued learning for a decade, graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and subsequently winning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an M.Phil. 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.
Educated was long listed for the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence and had spent 32 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. Former President Barack Obama named Educated as one of the books on his summer reading list of 2018.
Ms. Westover’s Athenaeum presentation is jointly sponsored by the Athenaeum, the Center for Writing and Public Discourse, the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies, and the President's Leadership Fund, all at CMC.
Photo credit: Lorentz Gullachsen