Astra Nova School, Following Elon Musk's Ad Astra School Experiment, Leads the Future of Education

At Astra Nova School, students learn through live team games with students from around the world.
Susan Fourtané
STEM education and robotics class projectProstock-Studio/iStock

In the 2030s, many jobs are going to be quite different from the jobs that exist today. Moreover, many of those jobs do not exist just yet, and some are simply unimaginable today. The future of work will require a set of skills that are not taught in schools today

No one knows if they will ever be part of the curriculum, unless the education system gets a very much needed update and upgrade to the 21st century, in addition to a mindset with vision into the future. What I mean is that most of today's schools and teachers are not ready to educate the workforce that will be active between 2030 and 2040. Traditional schools will need a radical change if they want to remain relevant.

The future of work --and this is something we are already seeing in sectors such as manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics-- will involve robots and Artificial Intelligence collaborating with humans. A new way of machine + human collaboration becoming mainstream. 

The future of work will involve space travel and multi-planetary life. For tomorrow's workforce, the future of work will depend on the kind of education and skills they will receive from schools and colleges during this decade. The 2020s, is a decade of transition.

In the 2020s, students will have to learn how to apply their skills in shorter terms than the generations before them. They, the Generation Alpha, children born from 2010 to 2025, and the first generation entirely born within the 21st century, will need to possess a quick response and apply critical thinking as well as ethical problem solving in a variety of new situations, many of which are yet unknown. These children will interact with robots as a learning tool

What we do know, however, is that the future collaboration between humans and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) --the type of AI that is about as capable as a human-- is going to become a reality in the next few decades. The current education system in most countries is doing nothing to prepare the workforce and leaders of tomorrow. It is time for a change.

Online learning is the future of education

Astra Nova School, Following Elon Musk's Ad Astra School Experiment, Leads the Future of Education
Online learning is the future of education, Source: Oleksandr Pupko/iStock 

Despite what many may believe, online learning is fast, efficient, prioritizes students' own learning pace, adds flexibility, and lets each individual student learn at their own best time. As individuals, we are not all the same. 

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We are certainly not at our brightest time at the same time of the day. Learning in the mornings may suit early birds whilst learning in the late evening is when night owls get the best results and better use of their time, since it is then when they are more alert and focused. 

One of the best advantages of online learning is that it becomes a resourceful way to help students learn remotely no matter where in the world they are. As long as they have an Internet connection and a computer, learning can happen at any time right from the comfort of their home. Online learning is not something new. The first online courses date back to the 1990s. 

Since then, the popularity of digital learning has grown. Most recently, the need for social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic forced educational institutions from elementary school to higher education to accelerate the change and embrace online learning, considering and accepting virtual environments as an efficient educational tool even faster. Finally, online learning is accepted as the future of education.

Astra Nova School, following the steps of Ad Astra School

Astra Nova (New Star, in Latin) is a not-for-profit independent school in Los Angeles, California. Astra Nova School was co-founded, designed, and run by the former Ad Astra School team. In Latin, Ad Astra means to the stars. 

Ad Astra School was the experimental school that Elon Musk started in one of SpaceX's factories to give an education to his own children and selected children of SpaceX employees more in tune with the reality these children will have to face in their future. 

The Astra Nova School's pillars include caring about community, focusing on student experiences, and sharing the work they do with the world.

According to the non-traditional Astra Nova School's Website, students learn about simulations, case studies, fabrication and design projects, labs, and corporate collaboration. "Astra Nova develops students that are enthralled by complexity and solving for the unknown. We redesign each year based on our students. We apply the lessons learned from every project, lab, and discussion to inform our next move." 

The approach is a logical one, yet, innovative. In general, school systems are rigid. They are more system-centric than student-centric. Astra Nova is changing that by creating a philosophy of student centricity, a value for individual abilities, praising curiosity, and encouraging problem-solving and critical thinking. "What if students were taken seriously and their time well spent? Astra Nova believes in meaningful student experiences across age levels and domains." 

Astra Nova School: Reaching to the stars

Astra Nova School, Following Elon Musk's Ad Astra School Experiment, Leads the Future of Education
Children creating and coding a robot, Source: Good_Stock/iStock

Astra Nova School accepts applications from any student between the ages of nine and 14, from anywhere in the world. Astra Nova School offers online and in-situ (only in Los Angeles, California) experimental education experience; the school offers what it seems to be some of the most exciting courses and experiences. 

Those who live in other parts of the world, can apply for the Astra Nova Online Learning (AAOL). According to Joshua Dahn, AAOL is for families looking for more community and complexity in their children's education."

Joshua Dahn, Principal of Astra Nova School, says that Elon Musk provided an initial donation to get the school started, an administrative aid per se. In fact, that was Musk's only involvement with the school. 

A few years ago, Elon Musk, started the experimental Ad Astra School --the predecessor to Astra Nova School-- in one of SpaceX's factories for his own children and selected children of SpaceX's employees. But he has no involvement in the new school. 

Joshua Dahn, who was also a teacher in the previous Ad Astra school, has stated that Elon Musk has no financial interest in the Astra Nova School. Indeed, his plate is already quite full dividing his time between his several companies. 

Learning through live team games with students from around the world

At Astra Nova School students learn critical thinking, robotics, and solve problems through live team games with students from around the world.

Astra Nova School makes age, geographical location, and cultural background obsolete. Instead, children from ages eight to 14 can work together on the same project if their skills are complementary. The school builds on a multicultural and global environment, where children learn soft skills in a natural way.

Astra Nova School is a pioneer in experimental learning. Experimental today, mainstream tomorrow. Elon Musk may not be involved in the school this time, but the fact is that the idea came out from Tesla's CEO pretty much in the same way all his ideas do: He sees something that is not working well for the world. He believes there is a need for something new and better that will help humanity, and he plants the seed.

That is what he did when he was unhappy with the obsolete education that his own children were receiving. So, he created his little Ad Astra School to provide them with the skills that will actually build a strong ground for the skills they will need in the future.

The future of education requires radical changes and vision, the kind of vision that proves to be critical in order to advance today's children skills development into the transformational career and workforce of tomorrow.  

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