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The 3 Things Elon Musk Knows About School That All Students Should Copy

The 3 Things Elon Musk Knows About School That All Students Should Copy

Elon Musk (the real-life Tony Stark) has become a technological icon of our era, and he represents the pinnacle of both big thinking and the successful execution of game-changing ideas. So we shouldn’t be at all surprised that recently, he decided to disrupt traditional education, in his own backyard.

Now, we can’t all go out and design our own school, and hire our own personalized teachers, but here are 3 things we can all emulate, as students, when it comes to educating ourselves:

1. School should focus on problems, not subjects

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    “It’s important to teach problem solving, or teach to the problem and not the tools.” ~Elon Musk

    As Socrates discovered long ago, true discovery happens when we present ourselves with intelligent questions, rather than adhere to pre-determined answers- and this couldn’t be more true for students.

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    As Elon recognized, teaching students by giving them answers to problems that they haven’t yet had a chance to explore (or even understand) destroys creativity, narrows the mind, and leads to boredom.

    This is why he’s designed a “problem focus” into his Ad Astra school’s principles. I call this the Goldilocks Principle:

    Give yourself a question or set of answers that are too easy and you’ll get bored.

    Give yourself a problem that’s too complex or difficult, and you’ll get overwhelmed.

    But give yourself a tough problem- one that you can see yourself ultimately solving- and you’ll unlock endless motivation to find the answer.

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    2. Schools should be student-paced

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      “Some people love English or languages. Some people love math. Some people love music. Different abilities, different times… It makes more sense to cater the education to match their aptitudes and abilities.” ~ Elon Musk

      The complexities of the human mind make it such that students don’t fit into a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits all mold when it comes to learning. This is why you can have one student in class who is disengaged because they’re light years ahead, and one student in class who’s disengaged because they have no idea what’s going on.

      But that DOESN’T mean that their potential for learning is any different – and in order to make the most of that potential, a student’s education should ideally be individualized and paced in a way that takes advantage of their current interests and ability level.

      Without a huge bankroll, though, this can seem difficult to execute within the context of traditional grade school and college education…

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      But with the advent of YouTube, MOOCs, and other flexible learning arrangements, try to think of some ways you could customize your learning experience to fit your interests.

      Super interested in Quantum Physics? Take a dive down that rabbit hole.

      Not so thrilled with 19th century British history? Nothing wrong with just doing the bare minimum and moving on…

      3 . Schools should be so interesting that students WANT to come every day

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        “The kids really love going to school.” ~ Elon Musk

        Instead of watching the drudging droves of unsatisfied children walking into school each morning, imagine a world where kids ASK their parents to take them to school, and sprint into class, brimming with energy for the day’s activities…

        Well this is what Elon hopes to maintain at his school, and it’s a model we should try to emulate. Just think of how much FASTER you learn playing your favorite game or sport, than listening to a boring lecture in a class you don’t care about.

        And it turns out, from a psychological perspective, the first two component’s of the Ad Astra model, contribute to this level of educational enjoyment. The more you can (1) focus on interesting problems to solve, and (2) cater the process to your interests, the more exiting you’ll find learning, and the more productive you’ll be.

        Featured photo credit: Heisenberg Media via flickr.com

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        7 Reasons You Won’t Start Studying Until It’s Too Late, And What To Do About It The 3 Things Elon Musk Knows About School That All Students Should Copy 10 Ways for Students to Crush It Next Semester 20 Funny Things Everyone Can Do Every Day to Get Smarter 10 counterintuitive quotes on learning that will make you a better student

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        1 5 Values of an Effective Leader 2 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 30 Practical Ideas to Create Your Best Morning Routine 5 Is People Management the Right Career Path for You?

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        Last Updated on July 21, 2021

        The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

        The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

        No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

        Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

        Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

        A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

        Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

        In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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        From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

        A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

        For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

        This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

        The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

        That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

        Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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        The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

        Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

        But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

        The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

        The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

        A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

        For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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        But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

        If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

        For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

        These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

        For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

        How to Make a Reminder Works for You

        Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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        Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

        Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

        My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

        Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

        I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

        More on Building Habits

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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        Reference

        [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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