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What does your education mean to you? What would you be willing to sacrifice for it? 

For me and my sister, growing up, it was a given that you’d get “well-educated.” You’d get good grades, go to a good college, and most likely graduate, medical, law, or business school.  School was just what you did…ritualized and rote the way religion is in other families. 

For my guest today, Tara Westover, the framework was completely different. In her mountain home in Idaho, school was seen as a threat. It was a government tool for brainwashing people out of faith in God’s teachings and into worldly decadence. She went on to become very well-educated by anybody’s standards–—studying history at Cambridge University in England and at Harvard. But it came at very high price. Her first book, EDUCATED, is a powerful and beautifully written memoir about family, loyalty to oneself, and the difficult, even impossible choices we sometimes have to make. 

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode

Chris Hadfield on an astronaut’s global perspective

Tara Westover quote: I think when you say you’re in a toxic relationship with someone, it’s really easy to imagine that it always feels toxic. And that if someone is abusive to you that they’re always abusive to you. And that 90% of your experiences with them are going to be violent. And I don’t think it’s like that. And for people in those relationships the tendency is to use the good things—and they’re not tricks…the love is real…to justify the bad things. It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you. The power to define you to yourself…there’s no greater power than that.

About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.


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