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Josh Dahn: Head of School, Ad Astra School

Joshua Dahn is the head of school at Ad Astra, a school that he co-founded with Elon Musk. Together, they are challenging norms and changing the way children learn. They are focusing on the practical aspects of problem solving from the young age, encouraging kids to work in team, solving complex and multi-disciplinary questions. Could this be the future of public education? I sure hope so! - Kirill Zubovsky, Smash Notes editor.

Updated on June 30
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Key Smash Notes In This Episode

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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