"What Would Equality in Education Look Like?": A Conversation with Tara Westover and Tony Jack ’07

February 6, 2020 - 8:00 pm

Tara Westover and Anthony Jack ’07 will discuss “What Would Equality in Education Look Like?” in a conversation moderated by Professor Leah Schmalzbauer. A book signing will follow this event.

Tara Westover is an American historian and writer known for her unique and courageous education journey. She was born to Mormon survivalist parents opposed to public education. Tara never attended school. She spent her days working in her father’s junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother... until Tara decided to get an education and experience the world outside of her community. Tara taught herself enough mathematics, grammar and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. She was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom and continued learning for a decade, graduating magna cum laude from BYU 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. Her new book, Educated, is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a story that gets to the heart of what education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it. Tara argues that education is not just about job training, but a powerful tool of self-invention. Educated was long-listed for the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence and has spent 32 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. Former U.S. President Barack Obama named Educated as one of the books on his summer reading list of 2018.

Anthony Jack ’07, sociologist and assistant professor of education at Harvard University, is transforming the way we address diversity and inclusion in education. His new book, The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students, reframes the conversation surrounding poverty and higher education. In it, he explains the paths of two uniquely segregated groups. First, the “privileged poor”: students from low-income, diverse backgrounds who attended elite prep or boarding school before attending college. The second are what Jack calls the “doubly disadvantaged”—students who arrive from underprivileged backgrounds without prep or boarding school to soften their college transition. Although both groups come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the privileged poor have more cultural capital to navigate and succeed—in the college environment and beyond.

This event is funded by the Croxton Lecture Fund.

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