Image credits to Chrisman Franks’ tweet
There’s a lot that’s wrong with the current education system, and I hope I get to work in the education space at some point. For Day 5 of 30 Days of Summer, I want to talk about 2 edtech companies, Synthesis and Primer, that I think are doing well, and will pave the way for more edtech companies to follow.
- Synthesis teaches kids problem-solving and collaboration skills through complex games and simulations. They have a pretty cool backstory about how Josh Dahn initially setup Ad Astra School at SpaceX for Elon Musk’s kids, and after 7 years of refining that teaching style, he was approached by (now CEO) Chrisman Frank to take that experience online under the name of Synthesis School. I don’t want to summarize things you can learn from scrolling through Synthesis’ website, so I’ll share some things I learned from watching a one-hour video with Chrisman Frank:
- Traditional systems try to simplify into neat subjects and concepts, but the world is a complex machine, and you need to be able to handle complexity to thrive in this world. So it’s important that we teach kids how to navigate complexity.
- The current education system entices kids by gating 30 mins of social interaction behind 7 hours of listening to crap lectures they don’t want to listen to. In Franksman’s words, “traditional schools are acting as prisons for nonviolent offenders”.
- Regarding the benefit of online education: in the future it will seem foolish that we limited our cognitive development to be impacted by only those who live in a 30-mile radius from us.
- Primer is an internet-native education company where kids join clubs based on their interests. So they have clubs for artists, scientists, gamers, etc. Recently they launched Microschools in Miami, which provides an in-person and hybrid learning experience. Here are some things I found interesting from this 45-minute video with their CEO, Ryan Delk.
- By calling themselves an “internet-native” education company, Primer means they want to build an “entirely new type of learning experience based on the things that the internet empowers kids to do, or empowers us to build for kids, that can transform the way that they experience learning”. This is in contrast to other companies like Udemy or Coursera that simply digitized the traditional classroom experience.
- One interesting problem that comes up in edtech is safety. What features can you build to ensure safety (think: no discrimination, abuse, etc.) in a video chat with just kids participating?
- One of their values is to “take kids seriously”, which I absolutely love. I’ve always interacted with kids as if they have as much to offer to any conversation as me, instead of trying to patronize them with how to live life. For example, Delk mentioned in the video: “Kids treat people differently when you treat them seriously and don’t treat them pedantically - they talk just like regular people”.
- Their long-term goal is for kids to create co-educational experiences along with the Primer team, just as kids create experiences in Minecraft and Roblox.
That’s all for today. Message me if you’re passionate about edtech and have opinions on this stuff. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have an excellent day!