December 4, 2019
Hello. My name is Ben, and I’m selling something.
Now, I don’t feel particularly comfortable about that. By nature I’m a teacher and not a salesman, and I have Charlie-Brown-level reservations about our world becoming too commercial. I worried that we’ve completed a peculiar societal transition: we used to teach students that they could grow up to be anything. Now, implicitly, we teach them that they can grow up to own anything they want. When children aspired to be a doctor or a movie star or the President, the job was the thing; now, far too often, it’s just a means to an end—and the end is buying stuff. And now, at the advent of annual adulation of acquisition, a little lump is forming in my throat because I want you to buy, buy, buy.
If you’re a parent, I want you to buy a Blue Apple project for your child’s teacher. If you’re an administrator, I want you to buy a group order for the members of your staff. Are you a teacher? I want you to throw a respectable little tantrum until your principal buys you a project. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way I feel.
And Here’s Why
First, I believe in the power of experiences. Buying a waffle maker or a new set of whiskey glasses provides a transient high, but research has shown that people who spend their money to create memories live happier lives. Blue Apple projects are, by definition, memorable. When you have kids creating Top Chef competitions or writing the biographies of senior citizens or creating commercials about flying to Mars, both children and adults are making memories. I want as many classrooms as possible to have that experience.
Next, I believe in education. When society spends money on high-quality educational experiences, that investment produces ripple effects of incredible potency. The best estimates of the return on investment in elementary education range from 11% to 21%. Try asking your local banker for that kind of interest on your savings, and see how far you get.
Finally, I believe in Blue Apple projects because this is not a profit-driven enterprise. Blue Apple projects are produced by the Van Andel Institute, a non-profit organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Buying from a traditional curriculum company lines the pockets of people with plenty; when you buy a Blue Apple project those funds go to subsidizing educational experiences for more children.
Investing in the Future
I tell you, that feels a lot better. We aren’t a society that needs another sales pitch. But we do live in a world that needs more enriching experiences, more powerful educational opportunities, and more of an emphasis on helping others instead of fretting about the bottom line.