How do we get students to signal talent and potential?

There are employers out there who would love to hire a driven, motivated kid who’s curious about things, good at figuring things out, and get things done.

The problem is that there’s no way to know who these kids are unless they have a trail of output to show for it. 

Signaling talent and potential involves three steps: 

  1. articulating the parameters of success in clear ways.

  2. Practicing within those parameters so that it becomes second nature.

  3. Creating opportunities for feedback from outside sources who can demonstrate your skills to the world at large. 

This last part requires confidence on the part of teachers—they must be willing to let go of their desire to control how others judge the quality or intensity with which they have mastered a given concept. 

With AP Racing, we make this ridiculously easy in several ways:

  • They test in a simulator by training a virtual car how to drive and get immediate feedback

  • They can remotely deploy software on a standardized physical RC car and receive video results of the car’s behavior

  • Every week, we host grand prix style autonomous car races with commentary from industry pros. 

All of this can be shared within our Discord server where everyone get support and feedback from each other. 

The most important thing we can do is encourage students to create more and demonstrate their knowledge. They gain confidence by creating and showing off how they solved problems.

This gives everyone ample opportunity not only to learn and encourages them to build more without fear. 

Now this makes the job of teachers easier because they gain more time for other aspects of teaching because they don’t have to spend hours grading. The grading criteria is super easy: did the car make it from point A to B without hitting anything?

Students also know what behavior gets them noticed by peers and adults, and thus are better able to self-manage themselves. 

Everyone else knows exactly what kind of evidence qualifies someone as “brilliant” or “exceptional” or any other distinction attached to a label that matters. The essential point here is that no one cares about grades.

Results are what matter.