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How Good was Elon Musk in School : From Bullying Battles to Unconventional Brilliance


Buccaneering billionaire polymath Elon Musk is undoubtedly an extraordinary individual, but his old school friends seem to have a different perspective on his academic prowess. While the future Tesla boss is renowned for his intellect and visionary mindset, some claim that he wasn't necessarily the brightest star in his school days. Today, we delve into the intriguing question: Was Elon Musk good in school? Before we explore this topic, let's first understand the fascinating concept known as the "Summer Baby Effect."


The Summer Baby Effect

Ask any child psychologist or an averagely pushy parent, and they'll tell you that babies born in summertime tend to face challenges academically compared to their peers born in the autumn. The new school year traditionally commences around the first day of September, which means children with September birthdays are the oldest and often the most developmentally advanced in their year group. On the other hand, summer babies, born from June onward, are nearly a year younger when they start school at the age of 5, creating a 20-month difference. Consequently, summer babies are usually smaller in stature and less advanced in crucial areas like language development.


Elon Musk: A Victim of the Summer Baby Effect

So when was Elon Musk born? Elon Musk was born on June 28th. Partly due to this timing, he may not have experienced the smoothest journey during his school years. In a candid conversation with Rolling Stone, Musk revealed, "For the longest time, I was the youngest and smallest kid in the class because my birthday just happens to fall on almost the last day that they will accept you into school. And I was a late bloomer, so I was the youngest and the smallest kid in class for years and years." Not only did this hinder his academic progress, but he also endured intense bullying during his school days.


Battling Bullies and Overcoming Challenges

Elon Musk was subjected to violent bullying, with gangs at school relentlessly targeting him. He even recalled being thrown down a school staircase, resulting in severe injuries that left his father unable to recognize him when he was subsequently hospitalized. Musk's tormentors targeted him because he defended another student against their relentless attacks. To make matters worse, Musk's own friend betrayed him, luring him out of hiding so that the bullies could continue their assault.

Around the age of 16, Elon decided to fight back by learning karate, judo, and wrestling. He advised other kids facing similar situations, saying, "Bullies are looking for targets that won't fight back. If you make yourself a hard target and punch the bully in the nose, he's going to beat the [ __ ] out of you, but he's actually not going to hit you again." These experiences undoubtedly left a lasting impact on Elon Musk and shaped his perspective on resilience and standing up against adversity.


Elon Musk's School Life: Beyond the Challenges

Although Elon Musk's school life was marred by bullying and the struggles associated with being a summer baby, he did enjoy certain privileges. According to his father, Errol, young Elon was dropped off at school in a convertible Rolls Royce, experiencing a lifestyle of luxury. He attended the private English-speaking Watercloof House Preparatory School before eventually graduating from Pretoria Boys High School. While at Pretoria Boys High School, he even participated in the chess team.

Surprisingly, his peers from that time claim that there were no apparent signs of the exceptional brilliance that Elon would later demonstrate. They describe him as likable, quiet, and an unspectacular student. In fact, when discussing his classmates, one of them told biographer Ashley Vance, "There were four or five boys that were considered very brightest. Elon was not one of them." Another classmate added, "Honestly, there were just no signs that he was going to be a billionaire. He was never in a leadership position at school. I was rather surprised to see what happened to him."

However, it is essential to note that Elon Musk himself acknowledges that he excelled in certain subjects. As a guest on the Third Row Tesla Podcast, he revealed, "When I was in high school, I got distinctions in two areas: physics and computer science. Those were my two best subjects." Nonetheless, he also expressed his disinterest in chasing grades, preferring to spend time playing video games, writing software, and reading books. His love for programming began at the age of nine, and by twelve, he had sold the code for his first game, a primitive shoot-'em-up called Blaster, to a South African computer magazine for $500.


A Fondness for Books and Philosophical Influences

Amidst his pursuits in the technological realm, Elon Musk possessed a profound love for books. He consumed a vast amount of literature during his formative years. One of his favorite series was Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Elon attributed his philosophical foundation to Adams, explaining, "My favorite philosopher is Douglas Adams. Adams has a great attitude, he's a fun guy, and he has a good sense of humor." Musk resonated with Adams' perspective that the universe holds the answers, and it's up to us to discover the right questions.

Interestingly, while on his self-teaching journey, Musk also explored more conventional philosophers like Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. However, he found their works to be rather depressing and advised against reading them. Despite this, Musk's exposure to various philosophies and his own unique blend of intellectual influences have undoubtedly played a role in shaping his unconventional approach to problem-solving and innovation.


The Ad Astra School: Musk's Educational Vision

Elon Musk's quest for educational excellence led him to establish his own school, Ad Astra. This exclusive institution was created to educate not only Musk's five school-aged children but also the children of select senior SpaceX employees. Musk explained his motivation for founding the school during an interview with Beijing Television, stating, "The regular schools weren't doing the things I thought should be done. I thought, 'Let's see what we can do.' It's important to teach problem-solving."

Ad Astra's unique approach revolves around teaching through problem-solving, fostering a proactive and hands-on learning environment. Although designed as a "cute school" tailored to its elite pupils, it reflects Musk's belief that traditional educational systems could benefit from a more engaging and practical methodology.



In conclusion, Elon Musk's school days were far from conventional or easy. Born in June, he experienced the challenges associated with being a summer baby, both academically and socially. Enduring bullying and physical assaults, Musk developed resilience and learned to fight back against adversity. Despite not standing out as an exceptional student during his early years, he excelled in physics and computer science while maintaining a deep passion for books and philosophical influences like Douglas Adams.

Elon Musk's journey from school to becoming a buccaneering billionaire polymath showcases the transformative power of determination, creativity, and an unwavering commitment to innovation. Through his own educational endeavors, such as the Ad Astra School, Musk continues to challenge conventional norms and explore new frontiers of learning. So, did Elon Musk turn out okay as a summer baby? The answer lies in the remarkable achievements and groundbreaking ventures that have defined his extraordinary career.



1. Was Elon Musk a good student in school?

Elon Musk's academic performance in school was not exceptional, according to his peers. While he was likable, quiet, and unspectacular, he did excel in subjects like physics and computer science.


2. Did Elon Musk face bullying in school?

Yes, Elon Musk endured severe bullying during his school days. He was subjected to violent attacks and even hospitalized due to the extent of the bullying he faced.


3. When did Elon Musk establish his own school?

Elon Musk established his own school, Ad Astra, to provide a unique educational experience for his own children and select senior SpaceX employees' children.


4. What is the Summer Baby Effect?

The Summer Baby Effect refers to the phenomenon where children born in the summer months tend to face academic challenges compared to their peers born in the autumn. The age difference and developmental disparities can impact their academic performance.


5. What philosophy influenced Elon Musk?

Elon Musk was heavily influenced by Douglas Adams, particularly through the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series. Adams' humorous and thought-provoking approach resonated with Musk's philosophical foundation.

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