Updated: Mar 13
We continue our chat with co-founder Matt, where he speaks on tutoring, advice, and one of nature's best: leafcutter ants.
To read part 1 of the interview, click here.
What does the average AimHi day entail for you?
I’m afraid there's no answer to this question: there is no average day! There are some elements of rhythm, but ultimately every day is like being launched into space at a high speed, jowls vibrating. I have some students, so I always make sure I'm doing a bit of teaching and I’m also sitting a course about Cosmology at Princeton. I think it’s really good to be on both sides of the learning process when you’re part of running a school.
What would you say is your favourite lesson that you've ever given?
I think that the best lessons are the ones guided by really curious students.
When we recruit people as teachers for AimHi, we look for how much you can think across all the subjects and be adaptable to the kind of questions you might be asked. When we were setting up AimHi, I was running three to four lessons a week, and I would plan a load of stuff that I thought I was going to teach.
But then, very often, loads of really good questions would pour in. I’d get completely side-tracked and wouldn’t do any of it because there were such good interactions. AimHi is all about encouraging people’s curiosity and getting them to interact, to be an active part of the learning experience.
There’s a big problem with the existing system undervaluing the importance of asking questions. No one gets scored on asking questions. You don’t finish your year at school and someone says “actually, you asked some really great questions; that’s really valuable”.
There’s a great student I taught recently who was so good at asking questions. He’s a very, very smart human being, but he struggled with the kind of hoops that the exam system makes us all jump through. I was always really concerned that he might finish traditional schooling thinking that he isn't very smart, or that he somehow failed.
Other than asking questions, do you have a good piece of advice for anyone reading this interview?
Yeah. It relates to success.
If you start off with a distorted idea of success, you're bound to be disappointed if you don't make it. You might even be disappointed if you do make it.
We all need to consider the influences we are under from society as a whole. We can clearly see there’s a mental health epidemic, and I think it’s a lot to do with people aspiring to be things that don’t actually make much sense.
For example, we're taught to think that to win is to dominate. We’re all made to think that the only companies worth thinking about are the ones with explosive growth. And whilst I do hope that AimHi will grow rapidly, our aim is not to dominate to the detriment of education; it's to become a valued part of the overall community. In nature, the winners are those that become a key part of the ecosystem, rather than those that attempt to take it over.
I really hope that we can help people to aspire to similar things in life: wanting to become a valued part of a whole.
Great. And last, now that we’re done with the tough questions, what is your favourite animal and why?
Normally when people ask me what my favourite animal is, I say an Olm. But I’m really interested in many different. Insects are great, because there are so many of them! There is so much more going on in the insect world than there is in the world of mammals. I used to really like leafcutter ants because of the massive nests that they build, but then I realised that leafcutter ants are often actually a sign of quite a downgraded ecosystem, so I’m a little bit less into Leafcutter Ants now... but they're still beautiful!
To discover more about AimHi's lessons, click here.