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Ad Astra

Taking a look at Elon Musk's innovative concept of education.

Elon Musk, 2018

Ad Astra (latin for “to the stars”) is the name of the private school founded by Elon Musk in June of 2014. Known for his irreverence and innovative mind, Musk’s school does not land far from his ideals. Created with the goal of revolutionizing education and presenting an alternative to traditional learning, in Ad Astra the students (with ages from 7 to 14) are taught mainly about problem-solving. Musk believes that learning subjects like Maths of Physics as tools to solve problems is incomparably better than memorizing its contents to be evaluated in an exam. In Elon’s school, each student learns at its own pace and according to its own abilities and natural aptitudes, always enticed to ask questions and promoting curiosity.

In Ad Astra, there are no classes or grades. Students of different ages work in groups and are presented with problems about current and significant topics and learn concepts about these topics which let them think about and devise solutions. Contrary to conventional learning, students are presented with problems and learn to solve them, not the other way around.

According to Musk, it is far more attractive to learn how to use wrenches or other tools and their importance while working on an engine instead of in a class. This way, the role of the tools come naturally, there is no need to memorize since the relevance becomes apparent.

Topics taught range from Programming to Artificial Intelligence, Robotics or Chemistry by multiple experts from top universities. To encourage financial literacy and entrepeneurship, Ad Astra also has its own currency system.
Sports and music are not part of the curriculum in Ad Astra. Additionally, the students also do not learn about languages because Elon believes that real-time translation softwares will be available in the future, rendering these skills obsolete.

The school, located inside SpaceX, currently has 50 students (Elon’s children and mainly children of SpaceX employees). When 12 spots were opened to the public in 2017, more than 400 families applied. But tuition is not enough – to get in, children must also do an IQ test which factors in the selection process.

This type of education, however, comes at a cost – due to the nature of the school, the teacher-to-student ratio is very high, since students require a more constant and closer assistance and supervision and, as such, the number of students that can be accepted could be limited, which might constitute an hindrance. Furthermore, and since this type of education will remain private for now, the tuition prices should also be rather significant. Thus, its scalability could be a difficult task.

The school has also been regarded as “by far the most secretive private school” since very little information is publicly known about it, specially regarding contacts or applications.

What do you think? Should this type of education be used more generally? Do you think it can lead to happier and better informed individuals and an improved society overall? Let us know down below!

by YKW // 14 May 2022

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