The Idea of Transformational Learning in Educated: a Memoir

In the powerful memoir Educated, Tara Westover, the author, addressed the transformative power of education and what it had to offer, and the price she had to pay for it. The author Tara grew up in a family who did not believe in education and isolated the family from mainstream society. She decided she wanted to get an education, found a way to take the ACT, and left her home to head off to college at Brigham Young University, in spite of her father’s objections. Pursuing a college education not only changed herself but her perceptions about her religion and her family. After reading the story, you learn that a college education is a transformational experience that will change your perspective and worldview. 

As a young child, Tara’s father isolated the family from outside influences and shared his concerns about the effects formal education had on her. After attending a college education, Tara’s perception of herself, her religion, and her family change. She learns more about herself for instance, “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”. This was the moment when she realized she transformed all because of education. For example, Tara states: 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 to construct my own mind. I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create. If I yielded now, I would lose more than an argument. I would lose custody of my own mind… what my father wanted to cast from me wasn’t a demon: it was me. She is stating that children are not duplicates of their parents. It is typical for parents to want their children to carry on their beliefs, yet Judaism knows the need for each child, each individual, to escape from their familial box and create their relationship with God and with their faith. As Tara watches her older brother leave home and go to college, he ultimately encourages her to do the same. Eventually, she understands that she must isolate herself from her father’s controlling ways and judgmentalism, and the violent mistreatment by her older brother. After distancing herself from her family she realized that it was one of the best decisions she had ever made. Starting a new chapter in life, like going to college, may be stressful, but it can also be a transformational experience. 

A transformational experience is described as, “one that challenges a person’s assumptions and preconceptions, as well as their beliefs and values, affecting how they understand themselves, others, and the world” (2019). This adds to the point about changing individuals’ views and opinions. Pursuing a college education will not only change one’s beliefs but transform oneself. As the author writes, “all the decisions that go into making a life- the choices people make, together and on their own, that combine to produce any single event.” This response enhances the point about a college is a transformational experience. For instance, Tara decided to go to college which allowed her to receive her Ph.D. in history. If it weren’t for her pursuing learning would she be where she is today? 

Today, the college environment extends beyond the campus itself and is more diverse than ever before. With its diverse environment, that is what makes college a transformational experience. One of the main parts of college is the exposure to new ideas and beliefs. Part of education is learning more ideas and either accepting, rejecting, or adapting the ideas. Everyone will always have ideas opposed to ours and it’s our choice whether or not we allow these ideas to affect us. Being involved around campus in ways we normally would not choose to do and surrounding ourselves with people who will challenge us in all parts of our life are ways in which will change our perspective and worldview. Higher education has always stressed the development of the “whole student” along several dimensions- intellectual, social, civic, physical, moral, and spiritual. Students develop their minds, bodies, and spirits simultaneously, and they can grow up using their heads, hearts, and hands. Students like me learn to talk and work with people who represent a wide and varied range of social, ethnic, and religious identities. By getting involved and coming across many kinds of people there is no way they would not affect your perspective and worldview. 

In conclusion, although Westover was isolated from society as a child, she went against her father’s desire and pursued an education. Her quest for knowledge transformed her which lead her to not only learning what education was but also what it had to offer. Education gives us knowledge of the world around us and changes us into something better. It develops us a perspective of looking at life. It helps us build opinions and have our points of view on things in life. College can teach you more about new people and even yourself, that is what makes it a transformative experience. Being able to interact with different perspectives and worldviews is what we call education. 

09 March 2021
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