Core Question 5: Tara’s Practice of Assessing Physical, Relational, Intellectual, and Emotional Risk

Can you think of a moment in your own life, work, or family when a positive development or risk also came with a challenging consequence? Do you believe that all choices will produce a win-lose outcome or do you believe that all choices have the potential for a win-win outcome?

From the opening chapter, Westover reveals an internal assessment of risk as she chooses between following her dad’s revelatory milk prohibition and her grandma’s encouragement of dairy products when she writes, “Breakfast became a test of loyalty.” When working in her dad’s scrapyard or responding to her siblings’ medical emergencies, Westover assesses physical risk even as a child. As her worldview expands through studying and relationships outside her family, she weighs the risks of entering into intellectual conflict with her family. It is clear that every choice could potentially produce both a positive gain and a devastating consequence.

Which risks seemed to have the greatest impact on the trajectory of her life? In what ways did Westover’s choices both produce positive gains and distressing losses? How do you think this practice of constantly assessing risk affected her psyche? Which turning point moment stood out to you the most in Educated?