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Ideas for the Classroom

Below are several classroom ideas and discussion topics for using this year’s Campus Read, "Educated: A Memoir." 

Campus Read Card Deck

This set of twenty printable conversation prompt cards include a topical category (“self-creation,” “dreams,” “mentorship and opportunity”), a quote from Educated, and a related prompt to help start conversations.  If you would like a laminated set of prompt cards for your classroom, contact  WVU Humanities Center

The Bookmarks Exercise

This ice-breaker exercise makes use of the Campus Read bookmarks containing discussion-worthy quotes. If you would like bookmarks for your classroom, contact  WVU Humanities Center

  • “The skill I was learning was a crucial one, the patience to read things I could not yet understand.”
  • “There's a sense of sovereignty that comes from a life on a mountain.”
  • “An education is not so much about making a living as making a person.”
  •  “It has never occurred to you that you have as much right to be here as anyone.”
  • “My life was narrated for me by others...it had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”
Have students choose the bookmark with the quote that resonates most strongly with them.Ask students to find someone else in the room with the same bookmark, introduce themselves,and explain why they chose that quote. After a few minutes, ask for volunteers to introduce the person they met to the rest of the group, read the quote in question, and summarize the conversation they had about both of their responses.

Honor College Assignment

First year Honors students are required to read the book and write an essay choosing one of the prompts.

PROMPT 1: Belonging

At each stage of her life—at home, at BYU, at Cambridge, etc.—Westover feels at some point like she might not fit in, and in several moments needs to be reminded of her right to be where she is.  How is belonging a key concept in a person’s life path?  How does Westover struggle with belonging?  How do you anticipate your sense of belonging in the Honors community at WVU?

PROMPT 2: Mentorship

Growing up, Westover has little guidance from her immediate family, though her brother Tyler encourages to go to college.  There, she meets mentors like her Bishop, Dr. Kerry, and Dr. Steinberg, all who help her along, and offer her just enough support and guidance to ultimately make a huge impact on her life. What does effective mentorship look like to you? How did it function in Westover’s life?  Who are some of your unsung heroes and how have they impacted your life? What kind of mentors do you hope for at WVU?

 PROMPT 3: Unconventional Paths

While Westover is not traditionally educated for the first 17 years of her life, she certainly has access to skills and expertise that most people her age never learn.  She knows how to operate heavy machinery, how to prepare many natural remedies for illnesses, etc.  What are the boundaries of the “conventional” path to college? Do any of these skills help Westover in her quest to become traditionally educated?  Are there other aspects to her unconventional education that are valuable to her?  Like what?   And what about you: what unique or non-traditional skills or expertise do you bring to college with you?  How can you use these to help you succeed in your traditional education?

 PROMPT 4: Patience and Persistence

In chapter 6, after her older brother Tyler leaves for college, Tara and her brother Richard both find ways to pursue knowledge.  At the end of the section, Westover writes, ““The skill I was learning was a crucial one, the patience to read things I could not yet understand.” Patience is an under-discussed part of learning.  What do you think are the key features of patience and persistence? How does Westover demonstrate these characteristics throughout her story? In what subjects will you need to exercise the most patience with ideas you do not yet understand?  What tactics will you use to incentivize and reward patient learning?

Author Interviews 

Tara Westover speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
A conversation between Bill Gates and Tara Westover