You might wonder what drives me to create the R3ciprocity Project. Each November 11, I am reminded why.
My grandpa was 17 years old (he lied about his age) when he signed up to serve in the Canadian Military. My Mom was born in Nova Scotia when he departed. He liberated France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and walked all the way to Germany.
Because of his service, he had problems with what we now know as PTSD.
Ironically, my other grandparents left Poland to settle in Canada just 5 years earlier in 1935 (for obvious reasons). The ship they traveled on was sunk by German u-boats a few years later.
I was the first in my large family to go to university. My undergrad in engineering was funded by a scholarship from the Royal Canadian Legion.
This was a war of ideas. Most human disasters and successes are simply about ideas. We got out of those wars by learning to work together.
You might think I am talking about the young men and women that fought. But, it is so much more than that.
This message–your computer or phone–was only possible because of a GLOBAL effort where scientists and researchers learned about computing, cryptography, and how people work together during the War to change how we think and work together.
Mechanisms To Work Together
I am building the R3ciprocity Project because we need mechanisms that show the world that we can work together. The editing software platform – which is to help peer feedback and get another pair of eyes on your work – is about showing how people can help each other.
Peace and democracy works, but we have to work together. I strongly believe that we just need the governance structures, market mechanisms, and trust pathways that allow us to work together efficiently and effectively.
We also need a vision for a world where people get access to education, but more importantly, tools that allow them to leverage their own competencies. All people should get access to resources that allow them to learn, and excel.
They also need the resources and coaching to get them through school. It’s a lonely process, and we need to look out for others. I have learnt this based on my own experience, but also from the feedback that I have got on social media channels (See me on TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Many people are either uncertain about where they should go, how they should work together, and also how to get through tough times.
The thing I am most excited about is giving access to the back-end of the Platform to researchers. Valid and reliable research matters. However, you would be surprised how challenging it is get acquire this valid and reliable research. As a social scientist, being able to allow researchers to get access to a platform to perform randomized controlled trials is an absolute dream. Check out this post where I go into much more detail about these field experiments.
A Reminder How Education Matters
Education is a powerful tool to help us see the world differently. You change because of the books you read, people you meet, the tools and resources that you have access too.
Don’t forget how important education was in your own life. The fact that you are reading this right now means that education had a profound impact on your life. At some point in your life, people gave you the ability to read.
More importantly, education matters, and changes people. You learn a lot by systematically learning about a discipline. I find it strange how ‘hotly’ debated this actually is in popular culture. You do not have to look to far to see the impact of science and education. Major moments of “progress” are almost always preceded by some breakthrough understanding in science and understanding of the world.
(Check out this blog post on how to write an academic paper)
Why do I think people get disalluded by education?
The simple fact is that most returns to education are hard to calculate (as Christina Fang argues, credit assignment is a challenge), and the returns to education happen far too often in the future. (By the way, education matters so much in the social sciences that it is one of the only control variables that all studies should include to be considered valid).
There is no hack and network that will unlock opportunities that education provides. To take advantage of education, you simply have work, rinse, and repeat. Everyday you have to start from the beginning, work, and go home. I wish there was an easier way, but no one has told me what the secret is… yet. It just takes a whole lot of work.
We also almost always have to sacrifice in the near-term for education. That means you have to sacrifice short-run rewards and it never feel good. It will not feel good when you are getting an education. I don’t know of many things that are short-term positive and has long-term positive effects.
We also have to remember that much of what we learn is also simplistic to make it generalizable to many contexts and many people. In other words, life is simple to explain, but hard to do. Weight loss, saving money, getting an education, or building a business are all easy in theory. In practice, it is not so clear.
And, even then, you will never really know for sure whether the education you received was important to finding those opportunities. For me, I can easily point out ideas that I would never think about without the education I received, but I am sure not everyone is like me.
The last thing we forget about is that education is within a social context of how you feel, how you think, your emotions, and your connections with others. For example, often, we get educations to get approval from others. But, one thing I learned is that approval from others does not always come, or if it does, it will be long after what you did was significant.
My point is that education does matter, but it is very hard to understand its effects. When I went to school, there was no way that I would understand that I would be building the R3ciprocity Project – my way of giving back, and of thanking all of the people that got me to where I am today. Remember, I could not have written this message, and you would not have read this message without the help of seemingly infinite number of other people in our pasts.
How do I know that education mattered to me? I had to wait a decade, and then look back at where I am today. I could not have connected the dots without the education and support I received.
Your future self will thank you so, so much for what you did in the past.