Beyond High Street on Smash Notes

Josh Dahn: Head of School, Ad Astra School

download episode

Who is Josh Dahn? 00:00

Joshua Dahn is the Head of School at Ad Astra, a private school in Los Angeles co-founded by Elon Musk. Josh was previously a teacher a Mirman School in Los Angeles, and before that a teacher for Teach for America.


What is Ad Astra school? 00:42

Joshua Dahn and Elon Musk co-founded As Astra (which means "to the stars" in Latin). The school is based in Los Angeles, and is located on the Space X campus. Currently it teachers 50 kids , ages 8 to 14. The school focuses on problem solving, building character, forward thinking, and giving children a voice and an ability to reason.


What was college like for Joshua Dahn, the co-founder of Ad Astra school with Elon Musk? 06:17

Joshua went to college in Miami, knew a lot of people, enjoyed his college experience, but was not putting a lot of work into his academics because he was not entirely interested in what he was studying. At some point he switched to American Studies and Philosophy, where he started to enjoy the material a lot more.


What prompted Joshua Dahn to start teaching? 12:18

Teach for America was a really competitive program and Joshua enjoyed the challenge.


What is the goal of Ad Astra School? 19:09

To give kids authentic experiences in school and in the world. Create a forward thinking environment that kids love. Drop the dogma of the past and encourage children to be engaged and to work collaboratively.


What is an example difference between a typical education for an eight-year-old and what Ad Astra teaches? 21:15

In a traditional school kids might learn about art, it's history, some geography ...etc. Meanwhile, at Ad Astra they would be put to work on a complex project, structured around a purpose. For example, kids would be asked to run a simulation around a business problem of how to make money from a limited collection of art. They would compete with their fellow classmates, optimizing for revenue, planning around various geographical and other constraints. Teaching in such environment takes on a form of a college entrepreneurship class more so than just book knowledge around various facts.


How can Ad Astra model be applied to work for public schools? 26:59

Kids in public schools rarely have a opportunity to have their voices heard, and that's a great place to start. Give kids choices between seemingly equivalent options and let them debate on it, without interjecting your own biases and opinions. Encourage multidisciplinary work, let them compete and encourage problem solving. Let the kids be heard.

Episode Description

Josh Dahn and his co-founder, Elon Musk, are out to disrupt the way we teach our children, and as a result, how they learn. In today’s pod, Josh walks through the reasons why change is needed and what they are doing differently. The art dealer sample lesson for elementary school kids that he explains is simply fascinating. The practical aspect of learning is very clear in this venture. The school they have created, Ad Astra (in Latin it means To The Stars) is located on the Space X campus in Los Angeles. Even if the entire model doesn’t work for all, some teaching through real life scenarios could benefit many. 

Episode notes last updated on June 07, 2019 16:09

Looking for a new job in tech?
Try Triplebyte today.

Hungry? Get $35 off CrowdCow, the best way to buy delicious, organic, responsibly grown beef, chicken, pork and seafood.

Need a place to work?
Give WeWork a try. Their office spaces are a great way to get some head space.