I was talking to a friend today about this project and he brought up the very-good point that most of the stuff we learn in school is not essential to surviving in life, especially once you get beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic. You can talk all day long about how education translates into economic opportunities, but at a certain point it becomes hard to justify: school is always going to be, in some ways, a delay on the real world, and at some point getting experience in the real world tends to become more helpful. Of course, you can talk about gaining knowledge of knowledge’s sake, but that doesn’t seem like a good argument for universal education at first.
Except, you realize that life becomes pretty boring when you reduce it to survival, to the X amount of questions you have to get right to earn X amount of dollars. Sometimes, the worst thing students can ask a teacher is, “Do we have to know that?”. As Randall Munroe points out in the alt-text to this comic:
“The only things you HAVE to know are how to make enough of a living to stay alive and how to get your taxes done. All the fun parts of life are optional.”
So yes, the goal of Project Rive is to reach communities in Haiti and enable their students to reach a better future. But the goal is also to get the students excited about learning and give them the tools they need to do it more effectively. We talk so much about wastes of time and money. What we don’t talk about is wastes of minds and ideas, and in my opinion those are priceless.