I have finished reading the book “Educated: A Memoir” and it really got me thinking a lot.
Whenever we talk about education, we normally associate it directly to schools. Do you know what question my kids being asked the most when they meet people? Not just the most, but the first question is always, “Which school do you go to?”
It took me many years to realise there are so many elements in a kid’s life and school can only play a minor role, and it is a diminishing one, in shaping a person’s character and mindset – which are the definitive factors to a person’s success. Although school environment does provide the social life that everyone concerns about, I would also argue that how often would you be spending your whole day with people in the exact same age as yours after leaving school?
I know it is a highly debated subject and no one has the magic formula, I am more than delighted to read this memoir as it does solidify my belief that there are alternatives to traditional schooling and we must seek to be truthful to ourselves and find the suitable option for our kids disregarding external pressure and views.
Tara Westover, as detailed brilliantly in her memoir Educated, spent the first 17 years of her life in an isolated mountain in Idaho, U.S. without receiving any “formal” education. She had never set foot on any schools before self-taught herself to get enough ACT score to enter Brigham Young University. Despite the huge obstacles in her first year in college and the substantial gaps in her knowledge, for example not knowing what The Holocaust was, she developed an immense interest in history and pressed on till she graduated with honour. Eventually, she gained her way into Cambridge with a full scholarship for her master and PHD degrees and became a historian.
There are a lot of elements in the memoir that touched me deeply. Child abuse in both psychological and physical terms, twisted family dynamics, forced doctrine on children and the unconditional support she received from friends and professors, etc. are amongst those that had me gasped and stopped many times to gather my thoughts.
But what I want to share and focus on here is how irrelevant attending school was in Tara’s story. But on the contrary, it may seem, how genuine education saved her life.
If we can separate education from any institutions or any form of accreditations or certifications, or if we can, for once, unlink education from career prospect, we will approach it in a whole different way. We can be freed to define education.
Besides, what is the worst case scenario if our children decide to pursue one major/career and later change course? Losing our pride? It’s time for us to give our children back the control and joy of leading their own lives. If they really want to pursue the knowledge and want it enough, Tara’s story demonstrated that they can get their way through PHD without even attending a single school in the first 17 years. It is called Passion in Action.