Return to site

Vlad Stan on Global Homeschooling, Education System Tradeoffs & Job Guilds

· Podcast Episodes,Founder,Edtech,Singapore

What is a school? The school is the desire of learning. If you kill this, you're not a school, and this is what's actually happening with the traditional education system. They kill the desire of school to make sure that everyone is the same, which is dystopian in a way. - Vlad Stan

Co-Founder & CEO Of Galileo - The Innovative Online Global School Where Students Can Choose What To Learn & What Skills They Need To Thrive in the 21st Century 👩‍🚀

This episode is produced by Kyle Ong.

Jeremy Au (00:00:30):Hi, Vlad. Good to have you on the show. 

Vlad Stan (00:00:32):Hey. Good morning, Jeremy, or good evening, Jeremy. I'm in Spain. I know you're in Singapore. So thank you so much for having me. 

Jeremy Au (00:00:39): 

Well, I'm so excited to have you on the show because obviously, from our past experience, I love ed tech, but I'm also really passionate about your approach to disrupt education technology. I think it's a great approach. John Tan, a prolific ed tech founder, an angel investor, has raved about your service, both as a company and as a service for his own kid, and so I'm really excited to talk a little bit about your secret sauce and your approach to tackling this. 

Vlad Stan (00:01:08):Yeah. I'm really happy to be here. And yeah, we can be really open about everything. 

Jeremy Au (00:01:14):So, Vlad, tell us a little bit, what is Galileo? 

Vlad Stan (00:01:17): 

When we started this, we decided to redesign the school from scratch. So we had this idea that we know ... I mean, look, if you asked most of the parents, probably all of the parents actually about what do they think about the traditional education system, they are not happy. They will tell you it's not working. It's really not working. But they're still sending their kids to this. And when you realize the problem is actually so big, everybody is saying that that's not working but actually, not so many initiative to try to disrupt but most of the startups in the ed tech actually, they are trying to improve the traditional education system. So we decided to say maybe it's a crazy idea, but I'll tell you a little bit of background as to why I think I did this. 

Vlad Stan (00:02:01): 

It's because my history, my past actually inspired me to do it. But we decided to have a different approach and said, "Let's sit down and actually design everything from scratch." So if we want to design a school and the traditional school doesn't exist, how this school should look like. So this is the question we have. And then we started with actually with the research, so we organized two big events, Homeschooling Global Summit. We had even Sir Ken Robinson, rest in peace, participating at this event. And we interviewed 40 something experts in education, and we realized everybody is saying the same thing. And then it looks like, oh, it's amazing that actually the solution is out there but still no school doing ... Well, there are some other initiatives around this subject but not so many. 

Vlad Stan (00:02:54): 

So the approach is actually very simple, but the problem was like a traditional way of thinking, not the traditional education system, it's not scalable so you cannot actually deliver something like this to scale. But now with technology actually, these things are possible, so how can you create a personalized plan for the kids in a scalable way, make sure they will learn the best? So these experts, they said education should be personalized, education, it's a learning process more than a teaching process, education is more like it's a social element like how we can learn together on this. And based on this, we actually started to design everything, and it's working pretty well. The kids, they love it. So that's the main benefit I think because ... 

Vlad Stan (00:03:42): 

And actually, what is happening, we give more power to the kids. So we think the family should be in charge with the curricula. Actually, what we took is we took the curricula designers from some traditional system, wherever, and put this in the hands of the families. And actually now, the families can be the curricula designer for their kids and they can say, "I want my kids to learn this, but I'm also not forcing the kids. So the kid should learn about the concept of freedom and actually, they should have a say in whatever they want to learn." It's a big conversation actually with both parents and the students for some time, but when parents ... Actually, when the families, they realized this, it's going pretty well. 

Vlad Stan (00:04:28): 

So we can say it's a school redesigned from scratch. In conclusion, it's where parents and actually the families, we took back the power from the traditional system. And the second aspect, it wasn't that intentional at that point but it's a global school. So what we did, we put together kids. Now, we have kids from 30 different countries and our way of thinking, because we're so diverse, I was born in Romania but my co-founder is American and we have people now from 20 different countries, we thought, what if this time, we're not taking the best from one country like the American education or the UK British education where maybe Singapore is ... Actually, we searched for the best in every culture. And now, actually having this possibility to build a remote school, actually this is what we're doing. So we're searching for the best people, the most passionate people around the world and now exposing the kids to every culture. 

Vlad Stan (00:05:24): 

So I'll give you an example. We have, for example, for the book club, every month we have a different theme. We have Africa and we read some amazing authors from Africa. We had India. We have amazing authors from India. And exposing kids to this I think will create, in a way, these kids being exposed to this global thinking, they will have a different view about the world, but also their view will probably make the world a better place. So that's in three minutes what is Galileo. 

Jeremy Au (00:05:59):You said something interesting which was you said your personal story is actually very linked to the founding of this company. So could you share more about that? 

Vlad Stan (00:06:07): 

Yeah. I thought a lot about this. Why me? I was a rebel kid. And why me to build an education system or something? My background is not in education. It's more in tech. But looking backwards to my childhood, I hated school because I was born in a communist country. So during the communism, school was actually indoctrination, nothing else. Except math and physics, this is the only stuff I learned during school. Everything else was altered, was really altered, everything else. So because of that, I was completely against. I thought a lot about this. 

Vlad Stan (00:06:45): 

When I was 18, and everybody at that period, everyone was thinking this will never change. This system will remain the same for the rest of our lives. So you can see some countries right now, I guess the only country ... You can think that Romania was probably like how North Korea is right now. You don't really realize, and if you're inside, you think this will never change. That's what you think. And this is what I thought. 

Vlad Stan (00:07:16): 

But in 1989, in the last month, actually the revolution happened. It was a revolution and everything changed in three months. And I realized at that point, I realized, wow, everything can be changed, even something that we think it's impossible. At that time, the internet was not there, so it was way before the internet and actually, the entire Eastern Europe was under the same revolution. So when you realize actually the system can be changed in such a quick time, that's my view about the world. And I do believe now, if people think something is wrong, this will change. 

Vlad Stan (00:07:58): 

And I have the same idea about education. I think most of the people, they know it's wrong, but we need a revolution to change everything. I'm not sure we're so close for that point, but I think the premise for this is here because everybody thinks that right now, the traditional education system is wrong, which means probably actually suddenly we'll see a different system. So I guess this is the main reason personally I was so attracted to this, because I think it's possible. 

Vlad Stan (00:08:31): 

And yeah, we have big dreams. In our case, we really want to have big numbers because we think if we show people, to enough number of people that actually this is working amazingly, more people will join it. So that's a little story of my life here. 

Jeremy Au (00:08:51):I got to ask. So what's wrong with education today? It's good to unload. 

Vlad Stan (00:08:55):Oh, so many. Look. So many things. And yes, of course, some countries maybe have better education than others. You can have this rather comparison. I will start actually, why this system exists, first of all? 

Vlad Stan (00:09:11): 

So just ask yourself, just go back in kids and learn more like, hey, who invented this and for what purpose? And if you realize the reason, the purpose, the reason of existence for this system is actually to create employees. That's the only reason. So we have big demand to create the employees and we need these people to be educated to do our jobs. That's the main reason. But if you are en entrepreneur, as a father or a mother, thinking that you're going to give your kid the chance to become something else and make sure that they will become employees and this is the only option they have, I think it's a terrible thought. So yes, I agree you can have a job from this, but just limiting this to this scenario, I think it's not a good idea. That's one thing. 

Vlad Stan (00:10:01): 

Second of all, just look back. Why do you think kids should learn this and that and that? Who decided it? So who decided? Who was that person and based on what research? What is it actually? So if you think they decided this because they want the best for their kids, that's completely wrong. They decided this because this was the need for the job, but now the world is changing so dramatically, and I think if you look at these young kids, first of all, the world will be filled with more entrepreneurs and freelancers and I think they need a different kind of education. That's something. 

Vlad Stan (00:10:38): 

But then, if you asked yourself as a parent, and I like this process, asking five time why's, so why do you send your kids to school? And then you'll say, "I want my kids to be educated." Why do you want your kids to be educated? "I want my kids to be successful?" Why do you want your kids to be successful? "I want them to be happy." So if you want your kids to be happy, why do you sacrifice the first 20 years from their lives to be happy at age 30-something? So if you see your kids are not happy in the system because they are not, if you see how they talk about the school right now, they hate school, they hate learning. 

Vlad Stan (00:11:14): 

So talking with John, for example, we realized, what is the school? The school is the desire of learning. If you kill this, you're not a school, and this is what's actually happening with the traditional education system. They kill the desire of school to make sure that everyone is the same, which is dystopian in a way. It's completely ... It's really crazy. But that's how the world is like today, and I think that's what is wrong. 

Vlad Stan (00:11:44): 

And, of course, yeah, you can learn some things. Not everything is completely destroyed. So you can learn something. You can meet some friends and create some social interactions and, yeah, probably you can get a good job and get well paid and stuff like this. But actually thinking about the sacrifice that you have to do to achieve it is the likely debate. I guess this is one big problem with the traditional system. 

Jeremy Au (00:12:08): 

Wow. I love the passion there. I agree with you that the schools are meant to build an equal shot as much as they can, make everybody not necessarily equal in terms of outcomes but an equal opportunity to learn, well, at least in a more high functional educational system. That's the assumption here. So I think it's a bit of a barbell. You have these OECD countries that have strong standardized systems that are good at giving everybody a certain baseline but does not accommodate individual strengths and weaknesses and desire. And then on the other end of the scale, you have countries that don't have a successful educational system, and I think the struggle is they don't even have an educational system to get there. 

Jeremy Au (00:12:55): 

So I guess for me, obviously we're assuming, let's focus on this path, developed countries, they have the educational system. And you said something pretty interesting, which is their job is to create employees. What do you mean by that? Is it because ... Well, I do know, of course, at a high level, the state is taking tax dollars to invest in a giant educational system for the entire population, which will eventually generate workers, and if they are able to help people have good jobs and stable jobs then their tax revenue should go up that they can then reinvest in the educational system. That's my macro point of view, but it sounds like you don't think that's working so why don't you tell us more about that? 

Vlad Stan (00:13:39): 

When the state where the government knows better than the family what the family should learn, it's strange. It's really strange because at the top of the country, there are some people with one way of thinking. If their thinking is strange and wrong, this will reflect in the entire society. So a top-down economy, I have the example, it's not working, man. Look. Even China right now, which we can say is the last communist country, but the system and how they're building it, they're transforming it because they know it's not working, how it was designed 20 years ago. They're realizing this but it's really hard to give up the power and actually accept these things. 

Vlad Stan (00:14:38): 

If you accept ... I know that if you're busy, I want to delegate this to an expert, but I want to delegate to someone that will take care of my kid's interest. So imagine you're delegating your kid's education to someone but that someone is actually not designing the experience for your kid's interest but for the kid's country. Now you can argue that like, yes, education should be for society. I agree it should be an algorithm. It should be a limit of everything, but if you put before ... I don't want to sound this selfish, but if you're able to destroy someone's passion and interest and curiosity to make sure the country will go well, I think this is a terrible experience. 

Vlad Stan (00:15:31): 

So if I'm passionate about painting but you want to teach me math no matter what because this is what the country said is good for our country, maybe you'll destroy a Picasso during the process, and you'll have an average mathematician. So with this way of thinking, I guess this is what is wrong with the traditional education system. So I do believe in kids being so passionate about what they're doing and exploring passion because life is hard, man. You need to be passionate to continue to do something. So you need to be passionate. You need to be curious mind. You need to do a lot of other things. Actually, you need to do a lot of things to make sure you develop as a person. That's really, really important. So that's how I see it. 

Jeremy Au (00:16:26): 

Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. You talk about a state and the part about the state versus family and I like what you said. So here's the question. Does the family really know what's best? What do you think about that? Because some people may argue against that and say, "Hey, families, every time they have their first kid, they're discovering to have a kid for the first time in their life. Whereas, the state has seen generations of families who have kids and they've seen families make bad choices around kids' decisions. They under invest in math. They over invest in art versus the actual end outcomes for the kid because the state is thinking about the fact that are they going to be employed at the age of 21, versus the family is thinking about what's best for the kid now. So that could be the counterargument that the state has. I don't even think they look at themselves as a state. They look at themselves as we are the teachers, we are the department of education, we are the education ministry. So what's your response to that? 

Vlad Stan (00:17:29): 

I thought about this. For example, I think if you look back 100 years ago. Some families decided not, for example, not to send their kids to school and actually put them to work and use them, and it was more like family slavery. You cannot agree with this. It's impossible to say, hey, now the family, if they want to enslave their kids, that's a good thing. So definitely not. 

Vlad Stan (00:17:54): 

And if you think about the government was trying to do is say this is not possible so that's why we created these institutions so at least your kid will have a chance, which is beautiful from this perspective. But this was 100 years ago. I agree. If the family is completely uneducated and actually the kid's interest is not the first, yeah, you cannot accept this. This is wrong. But to create the rule for everyone, just because some people are doing wrong, that's what is wrong with the society. That is because if you can accept that everyone will think about their kids in a wrong way and actually because of this law, you inhabit other people that will know more or better what to do with their kids, I think this is where it's wrong. And I'm pretty sure, yes, we should have a law to make sure the kid's interest is actually always protected, but in the same time, the families, it's super indicated and they know exactly what they want for their kids. 

Vlad Stan (00:19:03): 

Think about professors we have in the school. Parents, they're professors and they're sending their kids to our school. For example, John, he's in ed tech. He knows a lot about this space. And actually when he realized, hey, I can give this freedom to my kids, and actually the kids were the one deciding, so not John. It's like, "Hey, try this and see how it works," and actually, the kids say, "I like it better than the traditional." So if it's working and then I'm pretty sure John knows, for example, and his wife, [Marian 00:19:36], they know what to do with the kids regarding education. He's like, "Hey. My kid is on the right path or not." And I guess that's the way we're looking at that. 

Vlad Stan (00:19:48): 

And it's not only your responsibility because that's why we're here, so we are here to make sure your kid is actually exposed to the right knowledge. What is the right knowledge? We can talk about this, but we want to expose your kids to different things so we can expand his universe. That's one thing. The second one is we want to make sure the kid is like, "Hey. I said I'm going to learn this," he will stay on track and then we have some support which is more like a coach. Yes, you can do this. We're trying to help them in this process. 

Vlad Stan (00:20:20): 

So it's not just like now as a family, it's my entire responsibility. No. But you can delegate some of these things to, for example, in our case, to us, and you know you have some experts working for you as a family and your kids and respecting your interests. I think that this will be the school of the future. I'm pretty sure because once parents will realize this, they will want to have this kind of things. So that's one way to look at this. 

Vlad Stan (00:20:52): 

Yeah. If you want something which is against your kid's interest or try to do child slavery and something like this, yeah, you will have a problem. So I guess this form of education will work best probably in the most developed countries because this is where parents are extremely educated in some cases so they know exactly. So I cannot argue with the parents like, "Hey. I don't know what to do with my kid, or something else, so they know this thing. So that's why I think this education will work probably the best with the most educated, but yeah, let's not create a rule for everyone because some people will not send their kids to school. This happened 100 years ago. It's not now. 

Vlad Stan (00:21:35): 

And one more question to ask yourself, how the world will look like 20, 30 years from now when your kids will be adults, do you have any idea? Really hard to predict. Really hard to predict. Can you say who should be in charge and what kind of values do you want to actually inspire your kids to have? Because you don't know. You cannot predict the future. You don't know. It's really difficult. And then how can you tell your kid what is the best for them to learn when you don't have any idea about the future? 

Vlad Stan (00:22:09): 

So from this perspective, I think what we're trying to convince parents is like, hey, the only thing you need to inspire your kid to do is to have the love of learning. It should be a life-long learning process right now. Let them choose. Help them decide. Help them build a decision process so they can know better for them what's better for them. And this way, you can really help them in the future. 20 years from now when nobody knows what's going on, they can adapt so they can be there, they're now taking their own decisions, learning whatever they're passionate about and what is actually important for that time. 

Jeremy Au (00:22:51): 

Okay. So what I'm getting is firstly, you do agree with the mandate for universal schooling by the state. You agree with that. You disagree with the type of schooling that's available because you think that's outdated with the internet. And thirdly, what's interesting is you think that the parent knows best for the kid. Would you think that's fair? 

Vlad Stan (00:23:12):The parent knows, especially if they're well educated. So I'm talking about well educated families. Well, I guess not necessarily knows best but I'm pretty sure the family, they want the best for their kids. Right? 

Jeremy Au (00:23:28): Right. 

Vlad Stan (00:23:28): 

So that's really important. Right now, a well educated family, I'm pretty sure they are not going to enslave their kids but they want the best for their kid. And having this attitude towards this I think will help any family in the process and actually, this is how this system actually will work because they're educated and well intentioned and they're trying to achieve something for the kid. 

Jeremy Au (00:23:52): 

Yeah. So I think that's something that is so true, which is families definitely want what's best for the kid. The question is what is best for the kid? It's this very hotly contested topic. Teachers are saying we know best. The education system is saying we know best. The parents are saying we know best. And of course, the kids also say we know best. So there's a long group of people who are debating about what's best for the kid. I think in your own words, what do you think is best for the kid? What's your approach to that? 

Vlad Stan (00:24:27): 

That's what I was trying to say with this. Try to put yourself, how the world will look like 20 years from now. And if traditional education system, if you go to any traditional like Stanford, Harvard, whatever you want to call them, which in my view they're almost obsolete. It's more the network effect to keep them alive because they're really challenged by the new startups and everything. If you look 20 years from now, it's really difficult to say what the world will look like. And your kid is now 10 so 20 years from now, he'll be 30, so he'll be active in doing something. So if the traditional education system is not ready to answer to this question, how the world will look like 20 ... They cannot say they know the best, what is the best for the kids because I think education is mostly to prepare you for life but you don't know how the world will look like, how their life will look like 20 years from now. So if you don't know then how can you say actually you know better how to prepare. You cannot say. 

Vlad Stan (00:25:33): 

Then, let's move to the parents. Do you know so many parents able to say how the world will look like 20 years from now? I spent a lot of time thinking about the future and it's really hard to predict. With this explosion of innovation and technology and everything, everything is disrupted. So for someone like me spending a lot of time thinking about the future, it's so difficult to think how the world will look like, it's really difficult. 

Vlad Stan (00:25:52): 

And then if you have ... We decline our knowledge let's say, so we don't know. I think we can both agree on this. It's really hard to predict this. Then the question is what can we do for the kids? So I guess our way of thinking is like, okay, we don't know, then if the world will be so different, what if we did not ask ourselves what will be different and we ask ourselves what will remain the same 20 years from now? So what will remain the same? This is a different question. Because you have this different question, you see things from a different perspective, and then what will remain the same is the speed of change will be the same problem or even increased. Technology will be more and more important. The world will be more and more global and equal and everything, and people will have to learn continuously to resist. So then, the only thing we should do at the school, that's our assumption, to inspire the kids to love to learn. So that's the only thing we need to do on this. 

Jeremy Au (00:27:07): 

Wow. I think that's so true. I interviewed John Tan for a previous podcast episode that you could look up later. I think he talks about the love for learning or learning to learn, and that's a really tough skill because it's easy to measure if you learned math. Do you know how to add one plus one? It's easy to learn one times five or one to the power of five. There's an easy scale to measuring math and where you learn math, but learning to learn and the love of learning, I don't know, I don't think you get points for keeping that alive in a kid as a teacher on a standardized format. 

Vlad Stan (00:27:52): 

But it's actually pretty simple. So if we do not tell them what to learn because we don't know what is life, and actually the only thing is we want to make sure you are in charge with your life. As the students, we want to help them become independent thinkers or learners, and we know it's a process. It's not like throwing your kids here and tomorrow you'll be independent. No. It's a process. That's why we're here. 

Vlad Stan (00:28:13): 

And then maybe you don't force math and you say like, "Math is very important." But we've so many cases when, for example, kids, they're passionate about space so they're super passionate space exploration. And at some point, they say how long it takes to go from Earth to Mars? Oh, that's a good question. For this, you'll need math or physics to understand all these things. And because now the kid will see the reason why I should learn math, they're much more interested and actually, they speed up the learning process. And we've seen kids learning three or four years of math in one or two years, so everything is accelerated. This is one thing. Just the passion, that dedication for something if you understand why you should learn. 

Vlad Stan (00:28:59): 

So, for example, in our case, we expose kids to so many things. We have only one thing. We pitch to our kids why you should learn this. It's not we are forcing the kids. Really every teacher should have, to explain one-minute video why you should learn this subject, why you should learn about history, why you should learn English, why you should learn Spanish, Chinese. If we fail on explaining this, it's our problem. So that's why our journey is explaining why. So, for example, the way we explain languages. If you speak English, you can talk with almost two billion people. If you speak Spanish, you can talk with another one billion people. If you speak Chinese, you can talk with another 1.3 billion people. So it's up to you how much you want to expand your universe. If you want a universe with two billion people, that's okay. If you want a universe with 4.5 billion people, that's your thing. It's your choice

Vlad Stan (00:29:50): 

Then, do you need to learn coding? If you don't know coding, probably you're not going to expand your universe and talk with machines. But if you learn coding then look at these things that you can do and look at how technology can influence other things we are doing in life. 

Vlad Stan (00:30:04): 

So you see? When kids will have this choice, do you think they will say no? One, they're a curious mind. It's natural to be curious and they want to do this kind of stuff. And I guess that's why we're so successful with the kids, because every time we explain why you should learn that subject, and it's their choice at the end. And sometimes, maybe they're not ready for that subject and they will be one year later and it's working. So I'm in this system with my kids for four years now, and I know, they're so independent right now and so passionate about this. Make sense? 

Jeremy Au (00:30:36): 

Yeah, makes sense. Yeah. On reflection, I studied so many subjects growing up because I was supposed to get good grades in them. And the moment I knew that I wasn't going to get good grades in them because I didn't care or I found it hard, then I didn't want to study the subject anymore. And this was especially true actually for Mandarin. My grandparents, my great grandparents left China. I grew up struggling with Chinese because at home, we didn't really speak it, and my school actually, it was pretty uncool to be a Mandarin speaker. And I had to learn it because you had to have a certain grade to make it to the next grade, etc. 

Jeremy Au (00:31:17): 

And I think it was years down the road where, as an adult, I was like, whoa, actually I do love reading about Chinese culture and history and Chinese poetry, and these are the ways that I'd rather consume and learn the language rather than through rote memorization in the hopes of getting a C or a B. But that was always the way I was being told, it's like you'll get points or prizes for doing well in this subject and you'll get a stick or demerits if you don't do well. 

Vlad Stan (00:31:52): 

Yeah. And if you think a little bit about this, actually moving the rewards as a big and intrinsic reward system. So you learn for grades instead of you learn because you want to learn, so internal motivation versus outside motivation. If you think why are our kids happy when they go shopping, that's why, because they're looking always for rewards from the outside world and actually they're not confident and happy enough with who they are. And they're always looking for outside delegation like, hey, is this why, what am I doing? And actually, this is so damaging because what happens is it's acting the kid's self confidence. So it's really a terrible way of thinking if you look at what is the damage of having this system with external rewards instead of something that the kid has really a passion and curious mind. 

Vlad Stan (00:32:49): 

And as you said, everything changed when you realized I want to learn Chinese because it's for me this time, because I'm doing it for me. It's not just for a grade or not even for my mom. So that's why I think the person in the center should be always the kid, always the kid. Because we may think they don't know but actually, they have now this intuition. They know what is really interesting for them. 

Jeremy Au (00:33:13): Yeah. 

Vlad Stan (00:33:14):Also, the kids in our school, they learn coding, man, and nobody is telling them to learn coding. Why do 

you think it's that? 

Jeremy Au (00:33:19): Yeah. 

Vlad Stan (00:33:21): 

They learn about the art, 3D. Why do you think it's that? It's because it's cool. Why is that? They have this intuition. They know this stuff will be important in their life in the future. What does traditional education system do? Still teaching math, all these things and actually no coding, no technology, no 3D, no VR, nothing like this. We teach our kids age of eight about genetic engineering, and you know what? The kids are going to learn about genetic engineering at the age of eight. Where at the age of 12, we expose them to artificial intelligence. What is this? Yeah, it's much more difficult for us to explain all these concepts to these When my son was extracting DNA from a banana at the age of 12 or something, they then realize, man, I extracted DNA from a banana. I know all this stuff. And it seems like they like it and maybe I want to be a doctor, yeah, and I can go in this path. And this will open another conversation. Can I be a doctor in this system? It's a different conversation. We can open up this one too. 

Jeremy Au (00:34:18): 

Well, I definitely want to go do that one for sure. But there's the tricky part. So the system exists. The state exists. So it's always going to exist. So is the solution I'm just talking about, is it like a parent should be thinking about, okay, school is school, we're going to live with it, it's a solid eight hours a day or seven or six, depending. And then the rest of the time should be without school or Galileo or some YouTube education, Khan Academy, or should it be ... because that's the only way for them to ... They have to go through the O levels and the A levels in order for them to eventually qualify to be a doctor at a university level? Is that one approach or is that approach should be like, okay, we should just pull the kid out of the system and go all in on Galileo or some other provider and put the school system aside? What do you think is the approach here? 

Vlad Stan (00:35:18): 

So let's start a little bit with being a doctor in the future. So I give this example now to people. So VR is happening and AI is happening. Nanotechnology, everything is improving. So think about five, six years from now, 10 years from now. Let's be less optimistic. 10 years from now, your kid will be 20. 10 years from now is actually the moment when you can put a nano robot in someone's body and you with a VR headset, you can be in that person's body. So which means instead of learning from a book about the body, about all these things happening inside the body, now you are in the body. Imagine this scenario is actually possible. So you're in the body. And if you have this way of learning, I'm pretty sure what ... We spend now six, 10 years to be a doctor in the traditional system. But what if this process will be accelerated and you actually can be a doctor in six months, one year, because now we're in the body. Now maybe you have technology that will help you understand everything. 

Vlad Stan (00:36:29): 

So I guess what will happen, we'll learn everything faster and faster. We can actually shift careers a couple of times during the life. Not like today like I'm a doctor for the rest of my life. Maybe I'll be a doctor 10 years and then I'll become a programmer and then, I don't know, and then I'll be a teacher. Who knows? So all these things will be much more fluid and much more easier to happen because the learning process for sure will be accelerated using technology. We can see all these apps and everything is helping kids actually learn faster like everything. 

Vlad Stan (00:37:00): 

So if you have this idea then, yes, of course, the traditional education system will still exist and it will be a long process until a hospital will be able to say, yes, I'm accepting a doctor from this system compared with one from the traditional because I know for sure, the doctor from the traditional system is working. So it will take some time for this transition, but I guess what will happen is actually hospitals or companies or anyone will have their own way of testing if someone is ready to do the job. So I will test my doctor, are you ready to understand everything happening here so I can hire you to my hospital? So this will be the diploma. So I'm giving you my own diploma as a hospital. Instead of like, hey, I'm relying on a system. But this transition, I don't know, can be a revolution one day happening or it can be a very slow process to get there. 

Vlad Stan (00:38:02): 

So that's a good question, I guess, and actually to think about this. But in some industries like, for example, coding, computer science, this will be for sure. It does make sense to go to a college where you learn about computer science because you have Lambda School right now and you can learn the same things in nine months. 

Jeremy Au (00:38:24): Wow. That's a great insight. 

Vlad Stan (00:38:28):It's happening. It really depends on the domain but it's happening. 

Jeremy Au (00:38:33): 

Okay. So that's a great insight. So basically you're saying there are two types of jobs, I call it. You have guild jobs and non-guild jobs. Guild jobs being lawyers, doctors, everything, something very credentialed. Right? 

Vlad Stan (00:38:48): Yeah. 

Jeremy Au (00:38:49): 

And then maybe the PhD system like the research system to some extent or the professor route. And then you have the non-guild jobs which is like computer science, business, analytics, artists, creative, so there are non-guild jobs. Okay. So I get what you're saying, which is at the end of the day, why do we take four or six years to teach medical school when we could ... With what we know now about gamification, motivation, retention, teaching, we could compress that, like you said, into a much shorter period of time. But the norms around it means that we still got to do an undergrad degree in sociology or business administration. Okay. So that makes a lot of sense. 

Jeremy Au (00:39:37): 

You can literally generate, and I'm excited about this because this is something new for me, you're basically unlocking your five to 10X difference in speed and motivation and quality of life for the student. But we're also saying something very true, which is that for the guild jobs, lawyer, doctor, PhD, you can't escape it because you can't be credentialed as a doctor unless you graduate from a medical college, which requires you to take a certain level of entrance exams, whatever they recognize. 

Jeremy Au (00:40:11): 

And so what does that mean? What do you think? If I'm a parent and my kid might be a doctor or might be a medical, someone working in the pharma business, which doesn't require a guild credential versus being a doctor, and then they're saying to themselves, sure, I'll let my kid study at Galileo, but it will foreclose the opportunity for them to become a doctor, versus should I let my kid study the traditional system and study Galileo on the side so that they still have a shot to be a doctor for the guild job. What do you think about that? 

Vlad Stan (00:40:48): 

So particularly in Asia where the dream jobs are doctors and lawyers, so this is the dream job. But look at this. Why, actually, if you think if you go to Asia, most parents will think doctors and lawyers are the best jobs? It's because they make the most money. And what they want for their kids is like, hey, I want my kids to be successful and they have enough money to live a good life. That's the reason. But if you look at what's happening right now, is technology, look at the most powerful companies in the world, they're all technologies. So if you look at what's happening, technology will disrupt any domain. 

Vlad Stan (00:41:28): 

Actually, being a lawyer in the future, just being a lawyer without understanding technology, you are less likely to be successful. Then, coming from a better ... where you understand technology and maybe it will take six months to learn the laws and everything to create a system where actually will ... because it's much more easier to learn about being a lawyer than being a coder, understanding how machines work, computers and everything. The level of abstraction is there is huge and it's much more complicated. 

Vlad Stan (00:41:58): 

So our main assumption is if you learn and you're exposed to technology and everything, you'll find a way to learn all these things if you really want to become a lawyer 10 years from now when you'll be 20 because you'll realize. Maybe the lawyer job actually will disappear from how it is right now and you'll have completely different things. Maybe the lawyer should understand coding because all the contracts will be automatic. I don't know. So it's really hard to predict. 

Vlad Stan (00:42:29): 

For a doctor, look at this COVID situation right now. If you are a doctor and you know programming and algorithm and you can design models that you can see what kind of impact this COVID can have in the world or not, you'll have definitely a better chance than just being a doctor and knowing how the body works. 

Vlad Stan (00:42:50): 

So I guess you should have both anyway, and the world will become much more complicated in the future. And if you do not have this power to accelerate the learning process, it'll be much more difficult for you in the future to compete with the rest of the world. So I guess you will for sure need both parts. You will need to be an artist and a doctor and an entrepreneur and everything in the same time. And right now, you're thinking this is not possible, but we think this is actually possible. And actually, this is how you should design your life and actually learn all these things together and be a little bit of everything. That's one way of thinking. 

Vlad Stan (00:43:33): 

The second way of thinking is technology, arts and all these things create which I call asymmetric revenues. So there are some jobs in the world that actually you can have revenue created just because you sell your time and you'd have to sell your time more and more expensive. This is a doctor. But asymmetric revenue is like, for example, if you're a musician, you record a song and your song will be listened by 10 million people and you make 10 cents for each one and the same effort. You put one effort in the beginning, and now you can make much more money. This is paradoxical because 20 years ago, it was a terrible idea to be an artist. Actually right now, you can make much more money being an artist than 20 years ago. So that's one way. 

Vlad Stan (00:44:17): 

If you're a coder, if you write a book, you can sell your book in 20 million copies and you can make much more money. So there are some ways of some industries that will give you better chances to be financially successful in the world. And this is a creator economy, and we put a lot of focus on that on our teaching our ... Actually, not teaching. Explaining to our kids how important it is to be a creator and create things. And I guess if you want to switch back to the traditional, that will be possible in time because they have this thinking. They know that they can accelerate the learning process and they will succeed and they will learn that traditional thinking if they want to. 

Jeremy Au (00:44:59): 

Oh, that's interesting. So firstly, I guess, okay, so what you're saying, to paraphrase this, parents shouldn't be thinking about professions for their kids but they should be thinking about the excellence or the full potential of the kid. And the second thing is you believe that by using your system, you're always going to exceed the performance of the traditional system and so they're always going to be able to switch back into the education system because you are sure that if you want to go through the conventional system of learning math versus your approach, which is coming from the intrinsic motivation, the different subject matter experts, you're going to learn about math but your math skills are going to exceed that of the conventional system anyway. That's an interesting argument. 

Vlad Stan (00:45:43): 

Yeah. That's how we're looking at this. We've seen kids actually interested. And actually, that's why we have also a plan which is the Pro Academics plan. What we do is actually for those kids interested in going to college in these traditional schools, we have a plan to help them prepare for this, creating the narrative, taking the exams, test preps like SAT, all these exams in different countries. Right now, we have this for the US where we help them to go to college in the US. So we know this is actually a possible scenario. We do have a plan for this. It's not like, hey, we're ignoring this. That's a terrible idea. No. If they choose to go this path, it's perfect, and we're here to help them on this path too. 

Vlad Stan (00:46:33): 

But if you choose to be a musician and actually learning how to put your music out there and all that and everything, it's your call. That's your decision. And actually, you can be financially much more successful than having a traditional job. 

Jeremy Au (00:46:48):That's the biggest fear of every Asian parent, for their kid to become a musician. 

Vlad Stan (00:46:50):I know, but actually it's so strange. But being a musician these days, at least that your kid ... I also know 

that Asian people, they're super passionate let's say, most of them. I'm trying not to generalize, but I know gambling is a big thing in Asia. So having the chance to win big, it's extremely important. And this is actually what's happening with being a musician. You have a chance to win big. What if you kid will become the most popular artist? And concert money, man. That was not possible before because the internet was not there, but right now, this is possible. So we can have an artist like, I don't even remember, the guy from Korea with two billion views. What's the name of the song?

Jeremy Au (00:47:42):Lots of Korea folks have two billion views these days. 

Vlad Stan (00:47:47): 

The one with 20 billion. The thing is it's possible. So these things are possible and they will have for sure a better life. And actually, if you're still blocked in the traditional system, you actually cut your chance, your kid's chance for this. 

Jeremy Au (00:47:59): 

Yeah. And I think talking about Asia and America, what's also interesting is that you frame this as a global school. I like to contrast that against obviously local schools, which is the local education system, and the international schools which tend to be American schools servicing expatriates in different locations and feeding back into the local school system of America, for example, or feeding into the local school system of the UK in terms of the A levels. But you're not doing either of these things, and you call yourself a global school, which is a very fine distinction. Local, international and global. It doesn't seem that different between international and global. So could you share what your approach for global is? 

Vlad Stan (00:48:44): 

Yeah. I said initially we believe every part of the world will have something to say, like they're good at something. And what if we get this knowledge and put this and not following only one country knowledge type? So that's one way of thinking. But the second part actually, what really happened was when you join our school, we put in a small group, seven kids usually, but these kids are every time from different countries. So it's unprecedented in a way. Your kid is in Singapore and learning with my kid in Spain and with some other kids from Germany or some other kids from Kenya. Then, they're working together every day, and they have knowledge about what's happening in these countries every day. Hey. How is life in Spain? How is life in Kenya? So they have this knowledge. 

Vlad Stan (00:49:41): 

This is happening in the small classes, and then they're moving to a club where everybody is passionate about, let's say, about coding, and then you have other kids from completely other countries. We have this, for example, magazine where 12 or 15 kids from 10 different countries will be working together to create a magazine. It's a global magazine. And they will reflect what's happening everywhere in the world. 

Vlad Stan (00:50:04): 

I know for me, it was really important to understand this is a global world and actually, what's happening today, you need to have this view if you want to be successful. You cannot stay in your country only because things that are coming on the global will affect you anyway. Look at this. What's the most popular social network in your country? It's still Facebook but all these companies. So why is that? Because they have this global view. Where this global view was possible before? Stanford, Harvard, only a couple of top colleges. Actually, you can have this global view because they were accepting kids from all over the world. That's why they are so powerful. And we do this at the age of eight. So when you join now, your kids will have access to this global network of kids' passion and we put them together. So I think this is extremely powerful. 

Vlad Stan (00:50:52): 

And you said something about local. And now what we are doing, we enable this local dojos, which is ... because everything I said is online, but we have these local dojos which this will be more like micro schools partners with us, creating their space, putting this in our network so our kids can connect in real life in the local environment, so you can still have this learning experience which is local. But the beauty is because it's the same school, you decide to move from Singapore to Tokyo tomorrow, you can have the same infrastructure. Just change the class of the kid. Nothing will happen, so he will continue, smoothly transitioning. And then you decide to move to Portugal for six months. Yes. And I think what will happen, this will enable another lifestyle. That's actually something that we know like, hey, I don't have to stay in one country for the rest of my life or in one city. 

Vlad Stan (00:51:48): 

And if you see, this is a big trend happening right now, so it estimates around one billion people who become remote workers, probably digital nomadic families because you can travel now with your kids. You can do your job online. Your kids can do their school online and then will have the local experience at the local dojo. And then you can go, for example, in Portugal to learn about permaculture for three months, and I'm going to Tokyo to learn about the Japanese culture for two months, and then I'm going to Singapore to learn, I don't know, about robotics, I don't know, because this is the local dojo with an amazing about these things. 

Vlad Stan (00:52:24): 

And because we are able to enable these things, I guess the world and families realizing this, I think they'll realize the power of knowledge they can bring to the kids because it's a completely different experience, unprecedented before in a way. I guess this is how we see it and why we think this is a global school, because now we can actually literally move everything and we're trying to get the best knowledge from every country because everything, every culture has something to say. 

Jeremy Au (00:52:56): 

Amazing. So many global nomads. It's a lifestyle that's easy when you're single or maybe a couple but pretty impossible the moment you become a parent. So I think it's part of the same trend of making everything go virtual. 

Vlad Stan (00:53:12): 

Yeah, but it's not. With these local dojos, you can just move. I'm now moving my kid from a local dojo in Singapore to Tokyo. Actually, it's a hybrid education. We do believe the best learning experience for a kid is hybrid. It's between online and offline. That's what we're enabling right now actually. That's a big project we're working on right now. And we will have a dojo in Singapore very soon with John I guess. 

Jeremy Au (00:53:38): 

Yeah. Before we started, we were sharing about how we love this book, Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen, the Harvard professor, who talked about disruption in the context of education. And I remember he made this bold vision. He said by 2019, 50% of all US high school classes will be online. It turns out he was only one year off. It turned out to be 2020. 100% of all high school classes went online. 

Vlad Stan (00:54:10): 

COVID helped a bit with this. In a way, that's a terrible thing that happened, but actually it helped a little bit to understand and accelerate some of the processes, and I think now people are much more used to this idea, learning is happening everywhere and online, it's a pretty powerful environment to learn things. 

Jeremy Au (00:54:27): 

Yeah. So in the same vein of making crazy predictions, which may or may not end up to be true. In any case, it turned out to be right. But what do you think, say, in 20 years, it'd be 2041, let's say 2040, 20 years' time, what do you think education would be like from your perspective? 

Vlad Stan (00:54:47): 

I think one big trend happening is the teacher role is transforming dramatically. So right now, we still have this idea like teaching kids. You have someone to explain a concept to someone else, but you can already see actually apps taking this role more and more. So if you look at BrainPOP, there is no teacher but you have a concept in five minutes so the kid will learn more from this app. You have Khan Academy with the recorded video. This is let's say it's a knowledge type of, but I think what is really happening and extremely powerful, you'll see apps like Duolingo to learn a language or CodeCombat to learn coding or Codecademy, all these platforms. And I think learning will be much more developed this way and actually much more powerful so you can learn faster. We'll understand better about how the mind works, so I'm pretty sure learning will be accelerated once you know ... 

Vlad Stan (00:55:43): 

Learning how to learn, for example, this should be a science that we don't have. Not so many people are spending time on this, but we think a lot about this. So how can we explain the process of learning to our kids and how can they optimize the learning process for themselves? Because you can learn anything now. The question is how you choose. Decision-making process will be another very important meta skill for the kids. 

Vlad Stan (00:56:09): 

So if you look at this, maybe you'll have AI, you'll have so many things. So probably in 20 years from now, everything will be so fast, you'll be able to learn things that, for example, for some other people, it took a life to learn. Some kids in the future will learn this in a year or two or, I don't know, something like this because of this technology and the way we learn is different. 

Vlad Stan (00:56:32): 

I think the teacher will transform and become more ... Actually, this is our main assumption right now. So we have learning experience designers. The role will be more to inspire you to learn things. And the second one is to be a coach and to help you stay on track and make sure you're actually what you said you're going to do, so I'm here as a coach to help you achieve your highest potential in a way. So I guess that's two big trends, and I think of course technology will dramatically change. I see VR right now extremely important. 

Vlad Stan (00:57:07): 

I want to give you an example. I took this VR ... There's one app of VR, it's called Anne Frank. You know this girl who died during the Second World War. But actually, VR, you can go and visit her house and have the feeling of living there, and, man, it's an incredible experience. And then when you have this feeling where you realize how the life was for this girl, I'm pretty sure people will be better persons because you understand that you cannot damage someone this way. Or traveling in space on ISS or all this. 

Vlad Stan (00:57:56): 

I think learning will be completely disrupted by technology, and actually apps and experiential learning would be the thing in the future, living that thing. I want to learn about the ancient culture. I will be in Greece and actually walking on the streets and talking with people. It's a completely different level of learning, and I think this will happen more and more in the next 10, 20 years. 

Jeremy Au (00:58:22): 

Wow. You just gave me goosebumps because I remember visiting Anne Frank's place as a young adult, working professional. I got to go down on a corporate trip and then I took the chance to go there. I had read the book as a kid and it was really devastating as a kid, but to be in that spot brought everything back. I think the subject, the book connected ... The book out of many books suddenly connected on a very deep level. Now you just made a good point. I was lucky to have a corporate pay for my trip to go all the way to Amsterdam to do that, but most people would never get that experience in their lifetime, but for a kid, VR is going to let them experience content and connect with the subject in a way that's so real. That's huge. 

Vlad Stan (00:59:13): 

Yeah. That's experiential learning. Actually, that's why we call this Galileo experience. Everything is about experiential learning. Our question is how can we design the school to be relevant 20 years from now in this particular future? And the next question is how many traditional schools are thinking about this? Yes. If they think about this, yeah, you can argue traditional is still better. But when you think about this ... and actually we have an open conversation with anyone, not so many, but there are a couple of schools actually thinking about this too, which is amazing, then it can have a much more informed decision about your kid's future in education. 

Jeremy Au (00:59:51): 

Awesome. Wow. Amazing, Vlad. I think that was an amazing I think journey, not just on your personal passion about why you care about the state of education but also you're thinking around families versus state versus child versus teacher and the transformation and incentives across that. I also really enjoyed hearing your company's adventurous approach not just on an experiential component but also on a global stage and on a life span and trend and technology and transformation change. I just love everything that you're talking about, keeping the kid's motivation at the core of everything, and I'm sure it's going to continue knocking it out of the park. 

Vlad Stan (01:00:39): 

Yeah. Thank you so much. Yeah. Thank you, Jeremy. 

All Posts
×

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OK