February 11, 2022

Elon Musk Takes On Education

Elon Musk Takes On Education

Elon Musk is getting into the education business. Working with one of his children’s teachers, he launched the Ad Astra School to teach children aged 6-13 real-world problem-solving skills. The classes cover topics like “Synthesis.” As you probably guessed, Musk has tossed out conventions like grade levels. And, in true “move fast and break things” spirit, the school is rewarding students for taking risks and making mistakes—without breaking out the red pencil.

Musk’s school started taking students in 2020. Apparently, it’s been growing like gangbusters during the pandemic. I’m not surprised. It sounds like it could be a great pipeline not only for tomorrow’s great thinkers, problem solvers and scientists but also tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.

Hearing about what Musk is doing got me thinking about how, as a business leader and father, I’d reinvent schools if given the opportunity. I don’t fancy myself an expert on education and am grateful for how quickly many schools adapted to the pandemic under extreme duress. But like many of you, I had a closer, perhaps too close, look at what and how my children were learning (or not) during the pandemic during the early months of the lockdowns, and it sparked some ideas.

One thing I’d like to see schools do more is to prepare kids for the digital age—and I’m not talking Roblox—way beyond teaching them how to code. Most of today’s careers, including accounting, are now tech careers. They’re incorporating tools like AI and machine learning. I’d like to see schools familiarizing children with disciplines like these as early as kindergarten, the same way they introduce challenging languages, like Mandarin, when children’s brains are like sponges.

I’d also be thrilled if more schools introduced the subject of entrepreneurship to K-12 students. It took colleges and universities many years to embrace entrepreneurship as an academic discipline, but now it’s become a big part of the curriculum at many undergraduate, business and engineering schools across the country—sparking countless startups. Now, with record numbers of people starting businesses, including GenZ entrepreneurs, it’s a great time to show kids the ropes.

Even students who opt for traditional careers can benefit from thinking entrepreneurially. Our offices at Marcum are filled with “intrapreneurs” who bring a passion for building businesses and innovative thinking to everything they do.

I’d also like to see more on-the-ground learning around entrepreneurship. Many young people aren’t exposed to entrepreneurship at home and may not even know it’s a career possibility for them. They would benefit tremendously from more opportunities to meet and talk with entrepreneurs—including many from underrepresented demographics. Women and people of color are among the fastest growing groups of new business owners.

With the Omicron surge calming down, Marcum will be allowing all team members back to our offices on Monday. We believe that the collaboration, bonding and learning that takes place when we are together is invaluable to career growth. We have protocols in place to make sure everyone is safe in both our offices and clients’ workplaces. That said, we will continue to offer flexibility to those who are not comfortable commuting to our offices or physically working there. I want every member of our team to feel comfortable with their working arrangements, so they can do their best work.

Sunday is Super Bowl, and my daughter Lily and I will be boarding a plane shortly at JFK for what has become our annual daddy/daughter weekend trip. We started this four years ago and other than last year, for obvious reasons, have made it our tradition. I got the idea for the daddy/daughter trip from my friend Mark Seelig, who has three daughters of his own and did this with all of them. My other daughter Kate and I are figuring where her first daddy/daughter trip will be this spring.

And finally, Monday is Valentine’s Day and I’ll be on a plane from LA arriving back home after 9pm. Happy Valentine’s Day, Tracy!