Elon Musk has apparently created a new kind of school that prefers flamethrowers and robots to traditional classes.
Over the past four years, Musk has run an experimental not-for-profit school called Ad Astra at his SpaceX company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., Arstechnica revealed this week. Musk started the school after pulling all of his sons out of Los Angeles private schools and hired one of his son’s teachers to act as its principal. And in true Musk fashion, it’s nothing like a school you went to.
According to the Ars report, the kids work together in teams and explore non-traditional topics, including robotics and how to handle artificial intelligence that could ultimately turn evil. There are no grades given to students at the school and if the children don’t like a particular class they’re taking, they can simply opt out. Ars found that there are fewer than 40 students at the school, including Musk’s own kids. The other students are children of SpaceX employees and other people from the Los Angeles area.
Not surprisingly, the school seems to focus its education on STEM. But unlike other schools, it doesn’t teach music and sports and language arts appear to be an afterthought, according to Ars. The reason? Musk thinks it’s more important for children to learn other topics when computers can take up the task of translating language in the future.
In the place of traditional education is a class that discusses the ethical and political woes of artificial intelligence—a topic that Musk is deeply concerned about. Students are also asked to make a variety of technologies, like robots and even weather balloons. And when students asked to make electromagnetic pulse technology, the school graciously accepted, Ars wrote.
For now, Ad Astra is only available to students between the ages of 7 and 14. And since two of Musk’s sons are leaving for traditional high schools next year, there’s some concern over what the future of the school looks like, according to Ars. But if anything is clear, it’s that Ad Astra is appealing to some.
According to Ars, approximately 400 families last year vied for just 12 open spots at Musk’s school.