An autodidact is a self-taught person. They are people that know how to first quantify what they want to learn, then identify the best sources to learn what they need know from, and finally do the work to learn what they need to know. Putting their new found knowledge into practice to achieve goals is the last step. This is Elon Musk’s process.
Is Elon Musk a Polymath?
Yes, Elon Musk is a true modern-day polymath, building four diverse multibillion companies in different industries: SpaceX, Tesla Inc., SolarCity and the non-profit OpenAI and many other smaller companies. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physics and a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the Wharton School.
Elon Musk Learning Style
Elon Musk started with solid roots in deep knowledge and then built a wide foundation in understanding. He grows his knowledge upward by increasing his understanding and growing his comprehension skills with the vocabulary and principles of an area of expertise.
He makes connections for how things fit together and how to use what he knows to create. Musk never learns a piece of information at random, he studies with a specific purpose and goal defined before starting. He expands is knowledge and understanding by connecting it back to some deeper context.
He focuses his time and energy in learning what he needs to know to accomplish a specific goal. He believes in trial and error and learning from mistakes through experimentation to complete the learning cycle. He is not afraid of failure he gets excited about what is learned on each attempt to succeed at something.
He learns, grows, tries, and makes adjustments until reaching his goals.
Elon Musk Learning Quotes
“It’s important to teach problem solving, or teach to the problem and not the tools. Let’s say you’re trying to teach people about how engines work. A more traditional approach would be saying, we’re going to teach all about screwdrivers and wrenches. This is a very difficult way to do it.”
Instead, Musk says it makes more sense to give students an engine and then work to disassemble it.
“How are we going to take it apart? You need a screwdriver. That’s what the screwdriver is for, and then a very important thing happens: The relevance of the tools becomes apparent.” ― Elon Musk
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.” ― Elon Musk
“I think generally people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences. It’s rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis. They’ll say, “We’ll do that because it’s always been done that way.” Or they’ll not do it because “Well, nobody’s ever done that, so it must not be good.” But that’s just a ridiculous way to think. You have to build up the reasoning from the ground up—“from the first principles” ― Elon Musk
“Instead of a blank canvas, school hands kids a coloring book and tells them to stay within the lines.” ― Elon Musk
“People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.” ― Elon Musk
“Humility is by definition a starting point—and it sends you off on a journey from there. The arrogance of certainty is both a starting point and an ending point—no journeys needed.” ― Elon Musk
“Education is basically downloading data and algorithms into your brain.” ― Elon Musk
“You don’t need college to learn stuff. Everything is available basically for free. You can learn anything you want for free. It is not a question of learning. There is a value that colleges have, which is like: Can somebody work hard at something? Including a bunch of annoying homework assignments, and still do their homework assignments. And kind of soldier through and get it done. That’s like the main value of college. I think college is basically for fun and to prove that you can do your chores, but they’re not for learning.” ― Elon Musk
“Generally you want education to be like, as close to a video game as possible. Like a good video game. You do not need to tell your kid to play video games. They will play video games on autopilot all day. So if you can make it interactive and engaging. Then you can make education far more compelling, and far easier to do. So you really want to disconnect the whole grade level thing from the subjects. Allow people to progress at the fastest pace they can or interested in each subject.” ― Elon Musk