Elon Musk reveals he’s started his own primary school

25 May 2015

Elon Musk

Elon Musk has a lot of jobs. He’s the product architect and CEO of electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors, the CEO and CTO of space transport company SpaceX, and the chairman of energy services provider SolarCity. Now the man sometimes referred to as the ‘real-life Tony Stark’ can add educator to that impressive CV.

In a new interview for Chinese television, Musk revealed that he has created a new kind of school – one that doesn’t separate kids on the basis of age. Called Ad Astra, meaning ‘to the stars’, the institution currently only caters to Musk’s five children plus nine other kids of SpaceX employees, but he has plans to expand it in the near future.

“There aren’t any grades, there’s no grade one, grade two or three type of thing,” he told the interviewer. “I’m making all the children go in the same grade at the same time, like an assembly line. Some people love English or languages, some people love math or music, different abilities at different times. It makes more sense to cater the education to match their aptitude and abilities.”

Musk stressed his belief that children should be taught problem-solving: “Let’s say you’re trying to teach people about how engines work. A more traditional approach would be saying ‘We’re going to teach all about screwdrivers and wrenches’. This is a very difficult way to do it. A much better way would be, like, ‘Here’s the engine. Now let’s take it apart. How are we going to take it apart? Oh, you need a screwdriver’.”

For Musk, the motivation to start Ad Astra stemmed from feelings that no other establishment was teaching kids correctly. “They weren’t doing the things I thought should be done,” he said. “It seems to be going pretty well. The kids really love going to school. I think that’s a good sign.”

Sounds like, if all goes well, there will be a lot of future engineers coming out of Ad Astra. Watch the interview below, as first pointed out by Geekwire. The school remarks start at 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, recent reports have claimed that Tesla Motors is acquiring Michigan-based auto supplier Riviera Tool, despite not actually being allowed to sell its vehicles in the state. Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder signed a controversial law last October that banned the company from selling its vehicles directly to the public. All automakers are currently required to go through franchised car dealers in the state – the same outlets that claimed Tesla would have an advantage if it was allowed to sell vehicles directly to consumers.

Riviera Tool are a Grand Rapids-based company that builds stamping die systems, the hardware that punches large sheets of metal into car parts. The firm will be renamed Tesla Tool & Die following the sale and no jobs will be lost because of the transition, according to reports.

Elon Musk image via Shutterstock

Dean Van Nguyen was a contributor to Silicon Republic