Austin Scholar #1: What School Do You Go To?
Austin Scholar's Official Launch
Welcome to my first-ever newsletter! I am beyond excited to begin this journey and want to thank all of y'all for making this possible.
Today from Austin Scholar...
Before we begin... An introduction to the Austin Scholar Newsletter
What School Do You Go To? An article that introduces both myself and a few of the main topics I will write about in my newsletter
Three sources that link to a few of my personal inspirations and mentors
Before we begin...
I will be sending out one newsletter every Wednesday for the paid subscribers, so make sure to check your email! I will also be publishing one additional free newsletter every month, so watch out for that as well.
Every newsletter will contain three parts: an article, an anecdote, and three sources. The article is the core of the newsletter and will explore my beliefs on how to improve education in the twenty-first century. The second portion is called "Austin's Anecdotes" and will provide a short anecdote from my life that connects to the theme of the article. For some newsletters, though, like today's, the anecdote and personal stories are embedded in the article, so there will not be a specific section. Finally, "Scholar's Sources" will provide additional information and resources for further research on the article's topics.
To learn more about the Austin Scholar newsletter, read THIS post.
To introduce myself, some terminology, and my ideas, today's article is centered around a question that every high schooler (including myself) is frequently asked.
What School Do You Go To?
I haven’t had a teacher since the fourth grade. I haven’t sat at a desk, or in a classroom in six years. Despite this, I score in the 99th percentile of my grade level in nationwide tests.
What’s the secret, then, of learning without teachers? The answer is simple: Online learning.
I’m not talking about Zoom-school, where students are unfocused, distracted, and don’t learn a thing, but rather educational apps. Online learning has the potential to change education as we know it.
Online apps allow each student to learn at their own pace. It is like every student has their own tutor, which enables students to learn at two times the speed of sitting in a classroom being lectured by a teacher. For those who are able to quickly understand the material, the apps allow the students to advance to a level that challenges them, and for those who are confused, the apps allow the students to be placed at a level to learn the foundations they are missing.
For example, in a normal classroom, a teacher would teach division first, and fractions next. After teaching fractions, the teacher would need to move onto algebra, which requires mastery of both division and fractions. If a student didn’t understand division, they wouldn’t understand algebra. The teacher, though, can’t stop the entire class to help one student with learning division. This means that the student wouldn’t be able to understand algebra, and would fall behind in classes. Apps, on the other hand, allow for an individual path for each student and can make sure the student displays mastery of division before moving on to algebra.
At Alpha, an innovative school in downtown Austin, freshman students have gotten fours and fives on their AP exams and have reached the 90th percentile for their grade level. One of my classmates has been receiving 800s on the math SAT since the seventh grade. Using adaptive apps allows for a quick path to mastery for every student. Alpha App Favorites include the widely-known Khan Academy for math, the rigorous Knewton for math and science, and eGumpp for grammar. I will be writing about specific apps in future articles. Become a paid subscriber now to learn which ones are best for your child.
Because students can learn twice as fast by using apps, Alpha doesn’t need to allocate the entire day to academics. Instead, in the afternoons, Alpha students work on Masterpieces. Masterpieces are projects that Alpha students are passionate about and spend four years of afternoons working on with the hope of making a dent in the universe.
These Masterpieces must pass the DELT standard to be accepted as a Masterpiece.
The project must be Desirable, and must coincide with the student’s passion and purpose.
Masterpieces must also be seen as Externally hard and valuable, as something that no one would think possible for a high school student.
Students must Love their project (can’t be something their parent is pushing).
They also must be willing to spend considerable amounts of Time on it.
Examples of accepted Masterpieces include building a mountain-biking range in Texas, writing and producing an album on Soundcloud that receives one million listens, and mine, earning one million dollars from a Substack about educating teens.
These Masterpieces would be much harder to achieve without the time freed up from using adaptive apps for academics.
Though it sounds perfect on paper, Alpha is only useful for students willing to take control of their education and fails miserably with students who expect to sit passively and aren’t willing to put in the work.
I go to Alpha, where the class of 2024 will gain acceptance into top-twenty colleges because of our incredible academics along with our mind-blowing Masterpieces. We realized the education system was outdated and broken and decided to do something about it. Sitting in classrooms and listening to lectures is in the past. Online, adaptive, educational apps can take the ancient way of learning into the twenty-first century.
Alpha’s website is absolute trash, I can admit that. Alpha’s plan, though, is to stay under the radar (including the website) until they are ready to open a hundred schools. The blog is definitely the most valuable aspect of the website and provides a deeper dive into a few of the terms that I use (ex. Masterpiece) and describes the school I go to in more detail.
David Perell is an incredible inspiration of mine, and his article on The Future of Education provides an insightful perspective on the internet and education. There is a great emphasis on the vastness of learning opportunities when using online resources. Not going to lie, all of David Perell’s writing is incredible to read and I can't recommend it enough.
Write of Passage is the online course that encouraged me to actually start writing this newsletter instead of just thinking about it. This course is led by David Perell (see above) and was one of the most valuable experiences of my life. Through weekly writing workshops, interactive life sessions, and advice from David Perell himself, every part of the course helped me in my writing journey. I highly recommend this course.
And that concludes the first newsletter! I'm so excited for y'all to join me on my Substack journey. To read the rest of this month’s newsletters, become a paid subscriber! There will be SIX publications this month for all paid subscribers, so make sure you don’t miss them.
Thanks for reading. Go crush the week! See y'all tomorrow.