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68.Empowering Joyful Learning: Revolutionizing Education for Kids with Tamir Shklaz

· AI,podcast


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Podcast with Tamir Shklaz Part 1



In Part 1 of this captivating podcast with Tamir Shklaz,co-founder, and CTO of STRIVE Math, we delved into a remarkable journey of transforming education for kids. Tamir's passion for making learning joyful and meaningful led him to create an innovative coding school for kids, backed by Y Combinator.

Discover how Tamir's own experiences with self-driven learning and startups
shaped his vision for equipping children with essential 21st-century skills.
Uncover the powerful insights behind STRIVE Math's mission to revolutionize
education, making coding and math engaging and enjoyable for every child. Join
us as we explore the exciting potential of joyful learning and its impact on
shaping the future of education for young minds.

In Part 1 of the podcast with Tamir Shklaz, co-founder, andCTO of STRIVE Math, he shared his journey as a three-time startup founder and
his passion for making education more joyful and meaningful for kids. Tamir's
experience in building a textbook marketplace during university opened his eyes
to the potential of self-driven learning. He became passionate about education
and wanted to apply his insights to make schooling more effective. After
starting STRIVE Math with a mission to equip kids with 21st-century skills
through coding education, Tamir emphasized the importance of coding and math as
fundamental subjects and the need to make learning fun and creative to avoid
creating negative perceptions around these subjects. The podcast highlighted
the significant role of teachers in fostering joyful learning experiences for
students by moving away from traditional knowledge transfer approaches.

[00:00:00] Andrew Liew: I'm here. Thank you for coming tothis show. Hi, audience. Everybody. Thank you for listening to this audience.
And this is a very interesting, unique time when I am able to invite one of our
unique guests today. Come here. And he's actually the co founder and CTO of
strive math. So allow me to actually read what's the background of Tamir so
that you guys can really understand where is he coming from.

[00:00:22] Andrew Liew: So Tamir is a three times startupfounder and most recently have been building Stripe, an online coding school
for kids backed by YC, which stands for Y Combinator, which he recently raised
about 1. 3 million in seed funding for his mission at Stripe. And as to make
education for kids more joyful and meaningful by equipping kids with the skills
that they need to try in the 21st century while making learning fun.

[00:00:51] Andrew Liew: Huh. So let's welcome

[00:00:53] Tamir Shklaz: come here. Thank you so much forhaving me. Andrew excited, to dive into it. Yeah, so let

[00:00:58] Andrew Liew: let's let me share with you a bitof [00:01:00] background like how do I get toinvite you because I think one of my listener who is a parent and who is always
introduced like learning application and he was on LinkedIn with me and he
dropped me a job.

[00:01:13] Andrew Liew: Yeah. A LinkedIn message, whichsays, Hey, you got to check out this guy. So then I look at your, posts maybe I
can, what I do, let me do a screen share so that we can even talk about this.
It's fun when I,

[00:01:24] Tamir Shklaz: yeah,

[00:01:25] Andrew Liew: so yeah. So this was the, this wasyour LinkedIn post. Let me read out so that it's interesting. So you said excited to announce our 1. 3 million seat file. We are hiring the most important skill we can give kids or anyone is learning how to be adaptable. If
you want to inspire adaptable students, learning should be fun, learning should
be joyful.

[00:01:47] Andrew Liew: And so your other co founder,Phukit Agarwal and I started STRIVE, which is a Y Combinator on the 21st batch
in summer and coding school for kids with the core [00:02:00]intention of equipping kids to thrive in the 21st century by making them fall
in love with the process of learning. Thank you. And so you also mentioned
about Stripe to Code, and yeah, there was this picture of you and your co
founder coaching the two kids on this very fanciful, sticky computer back out
there, and that was the I got noticed by my listener and he wants to know about
your about you, about your story and about your views on artificial

[00:02:33] Andrew Liew: So perhaps you can start with thefirst case which is your backstory. How do you. Became a kids tech or tech co
founder from the day you finished school. Yeah.

[00:02:43] Tamir Shklaz: So I grew up in Johannesburg,South Africa, attended high school, primary school there. After that, I went to
the university of Cape town and studied electrical and computer engineering

[00:02:54] Tamir Shklaz: I became really passionate abouteducation in my second year of studies because I [00:03:00]started a startup called Quillow at the time, which was a secondhand textbook
marketplace or let university students buy and sell their old textbooks. And
what's the link? So you might be like, what's the link to education from that?

[00:03:11] Tamir Shklaz: What happened from thatexperience is that I learned more in building that startup in the one month,
two months that it took to build it than the previous 20 years of my schooling
taught me in those two years, sorry, in those two months, I dived deep into the
world of app development, websites, technical infrastructure, as well as
startups, product marketing, and all of these experiences.

[00:03:34] Tamir Shklaz: Thank you. These concepts stuckto me really strongly, way stronger than any of the concepts that I was
learning in class. I remember specifically being quite frustrated with computer
science that I was studying really hard to do well in these tests, but
information would come in one ear and out the other.

[00:03:51] Tamir Shklaz: It would just be to write atest. There was no meaningful application of what I was learning. It was
particularly frustrating because computer science is such a beautiful subject
that [00:04:00] literally gives you the toolsto create anything. So, feeling that contrast, feeling how much I learned in
those two, months and how much joy and meaning it gave me, started to beg the
question how, can this be applied to other studies?

[00:04:13] Tamir Shklaz: How can this be applied toschooling in general, in order to make it more effective? As you like, as I
continued down that, I then decided to start running the startup while I was a
student. My parents didn't want me to drop out of university, despite my
wishes. They, wisely wanted me to, stay.

[00:04:31] Tamir Shklaz: So I had to do both. I needed toscale the startup and be in university. So it forced me to be incredibly
efficient in how I learned in order to manage both of these things. Yes. And.
In the process of, that, I learned a lot of study techniques and hacks and
tools and systems on how I was then able to spend only one day in my week
preparing for university, but I was able to retain, if not increase the grades
that I was getting.

[00:04:57] Tamir Shklaz: And it showed me just [00:05:00] how, much potential is like just furtherEntrenched my passion for education because it just showed me if we were able
to teach kids and other people these tools that I was using to manage both a
full time degree and start a startup, education would be 10x more effective.

[00:05:15] Tamir Shklaz: I love that story. I wanted

[00:05:16] Andrew Liew: to be curious about it, right? Asall parents always thinking about it, is it because. You are a genius, right?
Or is it applicable to most students? I

[00:05:25] Tamir Shklaz: think it's applicable to everystudent. I don't think there's anything special about me. I think I was lucky
in that I had particular experiences when I was a kid.

[00:05:35] Tamir Shklaz: That just happened to set me upfor success. Yeah, I think, namely, and interesting enough, it comes a lot from
it from learning how to play computer games. So I would say, like, when my
first passion for learning actually came in was I became obsessed with computer
games. Particularly call of duty. I started playing it competitively and at the
expense of everything else in my life, but playing it a bit too much, but [00:06:00] what I became really interested in was howdo I become better at call of duty?

[00:06:03] Tamir Shklaz: And when I wanted to get betterat something else at school, I would have a math tutor, I'd have a science
tutor. I could ask my parents for help. I could ask my teacher for help, but no
one was there to help me with call of duty. So I have to be self driven to do
that. I started to look for answers and I went to YouTube and Google and in
that process, I almost trained myself unknowingly on how to use the Internet to
learn any arbitrary skill on how to find the right information in order to

[00:06:32] Tamir Shklaz: In this case, Call of Duty, butthat exact same skill translated and how to teach myself to code, how to teach
myself to build a startup, how to teach myself to do sales, etc. And that is
the key insights or the key thing that we now need to start bringing more into
schools and into education that any kid from a weak student to a strong student
would 10x their, learning experience.

[00:06:54] Tamir Shklaz: Okay, so continue,

[00:06:55] Andrew Liew: please. When do you finish schooland how do you eventually go to where you are today?

[00:06:59] Tamir Shklaz: Yeah [00:07:00]so, eventually graduated and It was then 2020. Finally, I had my dream come
true. I was able to go into the startup full time and then boom, a global
pandemic hits and puts a big stop, on that.

[00:07:12] Tamir Shklaz: However, luckily enough, therewas something that happened simultaneously, which was, I got accepted into this
program called Entrepreneur First, which is essentially a co founding. Co
founder Speed Dating Platform lets you and helps you find a co founder. My
biggest challenge in my previous startups was a lack of a co founder.

[00:07:30] Tamir Shklaz: It's a very lonely process and Iwanted someone in the trenches with me. And here was this program that all of a
sudden promised a pool of 80 of the top entrepreneurs in Singapore that are all
looking to start a startup at the same time. I was like, this sounds amazing.
And so one door closed to my startup, another door opened and I decided to
pursue that.

[00:07:49] Tamir Shklaz: I met my current co founder,Paul Kit, and we. really started without an idea. We didn't know what we're
gonna do. We just got on so well on this shared passion for education [00:08:00] that we just started with the missionstatement. We need to make education more joyful. We'll figure out how we do
that. And over time, we eventually landed on this particular idea of teaching
coding to kids.

[00:08:10] Tamir Shklaz: I

[00:08:10] Andrew Liew: see talking about makingeducation joyful. It just reminds me of When my recent staying in a bank, they
wanna make banking joyful. So and, bank is a very boring kind of place where
just people just put money and joy up. So as in all education actually
education can be made joyful.

[00:08:26] Andrew Liew: But tell me like how do you guyslike trying to fulfill that mission because education is so broad, right? You
have sports, you have connective, you have your basic experimental map. How do
you guys discover that, Hey, let's tackle. Math or technical coding,

[00:08:42] Tamir Shklaz: so I think initially in one ofthe, so where the company first started was this idea of math through code. So
I had an experience in university of doing one of my courses through Python. It
was an advanced math course called signals and systems. And I became. It was
the course I enjoyed the most because I was able to play around [00:09:00] and create instead of just consume theinformation from this course.

[00:09:04] Tamir Shklaz: And so the thought was, howcould we apply this to school? And that's certainly still a big part of our
product. But what we've seen from the markets is that they're just not ready
for something like this yet, not in schools, at least. But we started with that
approach because math is notorious for being the most hated subject.

[00:09:21] Tamir Shklaz: You constantly hear the words,I'm not a math person and it is such a damaging perspective and so not true.
It's I think for someone to say, I'm not a math person is like for someone to
say, Oh, I'm not a smelling person. I'm not a tasting person. It's no, math is
something which is like fundamental to being a human.

[00:09:40] Tamir Shklaz: We've evolved over millions ofyears to just be able to spot patterns and that's all that math is. You're not
a math person, not because you're not good at math. You're not a math person
because you've gone through an education system, which has unfortunately sucked
the joy out of it. And that was a very compelling avenue to tackle because of

[00:10:00] Tamir Shklaz: The Delta, the potential that wecould have in, taking a kid of saying, I'm not a math person to say, I love
math. And this is incredible. And coding is suffering from a similar thing.
Coding is at risk of becoming a similar subject to math and being, Oh, I'm not
a coding person. If we make it too technical, if we don't make it creative.

[00:10:19] Tamir Shklaz: If we suffer the same shortfallsof how we teach math in 20 years, when coding coding is already a fundamental,
but as it becomes more and more fundamental, we'll have a large portion of the
population. Oh, I'm not a coding person, and we knew we need to stop that now
because of how important that skill will be.

[00:10:36] Tamir Shklaz: I see.

[00:10:36] Andrew Liew: And talking along that line like,coding and math. It's also a very, broad subject. And how do you. What is the
kind of approach that your company and your team actually focus on enabling the
kids to basically go back to the mission, like finding joy through coding,
finding joy through learning math was it like both a digital experience and an
omnipresent [00:11:00] experience or what kindof experience that you guys like enabled, like them to actually tackle this
head on,

[00:11:06] Tamir Shklaz: Yeah. So There's a lot ofdifferent ingredients that, that come down to what essentially the word here is
like pedagogy, which is the science of learning. The question is essentially,
what did we do when we're thinking about designing this course in order to make
it as impactful and as joyful as possible?

[00:11:25] Tamir Shklaz: The first thing we looked at wasthe teacher, actually, and the role of the teachers is massive here, but not in
the way that you think. Most people think of a teacher as someone that is going
to Have all of the knowledge and then communicate it to the student. I mostly
think about as like the student is a glass, an empty glass.

[00:11:45] Tamir Shklaz: The teacher is a jug full ofwater represents knowledge. And the teacher needs to pull the knowledge into
the student's brain. That is not how we learn. It is not how, we learn and it's
not how education should be. It's how the education system has been set up for
a hundred years, but it is not the correct way..