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An Interview with Anthony Sepulveda on Academic Institutions, Khan Academy, and Profound Gifts (Part Four)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/07/22


Anthony Sepulveda scored 174 (S.D.15) on Cosmic and is a member of the World Genius Directory. He discusses: academic institutions; the academy; the standardization process; ends or colleagues who have had horror stories in relations with the university system; the tenure track system; the academy shifting; the Khan Academy; strengths and weaknesses of the Khan Academy; Khan Academy; the badge ideas; other systems of education; focus on mastery rather than completion for moving onto the next subject matter; Academia; the profoundly gifted seem so out of place and out of sync with much of society; and the profound gifts.

Keywords: Academia, Anthony Sepulveda, high-IQ, Khan Academy, tenure track.

An Interview with Anthony Sepulveda on Academic Institutions, Khan Academy, and Profound Gifts (Part Four)[1],[2]*

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When we think of the academic institutions, a whole range of ideas come up. We’ve touched somewhat on this subject matter. I see them as manifesting a variety of positive and negative characteristics. They provide a formalization process for most of the population to certify various levels of acquisition of knowledge. Is this a positive or negative for you?

Anthony Sepulveda (Brown): Overall, it’s positive. Education is a wonderful thing that everyone should pursue as much as they want.

2. Jacobsen: On the other hand, they can provide a rigidity to the search for further knowledge desired by most in the academy. In that, certain paths can get entrenched, which can slow intellectual advancement of the academy. Is this a positive or a negative for you?

Sepulveda (Brown): That is a relatively negative feature. When your goal is to iron out all the wrinkles and create a smooth increase in personal growth, you need to appreciate the impact your actions will inevitably have on the lives of others.

3. Jacobsen: Do you see the standardization process at the cost of radical transformation a worthwhile trade-off in the university system?

Sepulveda (Brown): That would depend on the nature of the radical transformations. Do you have any examples?

4. Jacobsen: Do you have any friends or colleagues who have had horror stories in relations with the university system?

Sepulveda (Brown): Of course, I know several people in college right now who’ve been kind enough to confirm my beliefs before I submit them to you. (Special thanks to Tango and Jess)

5. Jacobsen: What do you think of the tenure track system?

Sepulveda (Brown): I’m not familiar with the exact policies behind it. All I know is that it makes it significantly harder to fire ineffectual teachers. This seems like an unnecessary policy if the goal is to educate rather than to have a career in education.

6. Jacobsen: How is the culture of the academy shifting, in your opinion, e.g., socially, politically, and economically?

Sepulveda (Brown): It seems obvious that education isn’t as valuable as it used to be (both on the micro and macro levels). It seems probable to me that in will be avoided unless it’s necessary or otherwise appealing by most the general population in the future. But I can’t be certain of what will happen to it.

7. Jacobsen: How many points have you earned on the Khan Academy system?

Sepulveda (Brown): Not many, to be honest. I first became aware of it when I was very poor and couldn’t afford regular internet access. I’d have to go to the library to use their resources for an hour and didn’t get very far. Instead, I borrowed and acquired books to pursue my interests at my leisure. I should probably get back into it if I want my opinion on the subject to be valid.

8. Jacobsen: What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Khan Academy?

Sepulveda (Brown): The platforms greatest strengths are the freedom to pursue any subject of interest in your own time. It’s biggest weakness is the lack of personalized assistance (tutoring)

9. Jacobsen: What are some of the areas of maintaining the excellence in particular subjects and styles of education for Khan Academy, e.g., Salman was always strong in mathematics and, thus, the mathematics training system is excellent in tests and in videos?

Sepulveda (Brown): That’s true. Math and Science are easily the strongest branches they offer. This is likely due to customer demand, since the average student will have to go through these subjects for most of their academic lives whether they want to or not. Even Arts majors have math requirements.

And there are several other sources one could use to educate themselves in other subjects – Duolingo (Language), Code Academy (Computer Science) and even Youtube can round out just about anyone’s educational needs at your speed.

10. Jacobsen: What do you think of the badge ideas, as if this is Halo or Call of Duty? It seems like a good Jane McGonigal attempt to gamify mathematics and education, which may, in fact, work and draw in more young people, especially young boys who have been struggling with education starting in kindergarten running all the way through graduate school.

Sepulveda (Brown): It’s an interesting idea. But I feel like it’d be a more effective motivator in extracurricular subjects that wouldn’t normally have any appeal. Like when you’re going for the Platinum on a Playstation game, but still have a handful of challenges to achieve that you never would’ve attempted if they weren’t necessary to achieve your goal.

11. Jacobsen: How could other systems of education incorporate the Khan Academy system?

Sepulveda (Brown): I’m not sure. There would have to be several significant changes to allow students the time they need to truly understand their subjects of study. The first idea that comes to mind would be to replace the traditional classroom setup with one where the students are given study material (books, videos, practice tests, etc.) to work on in their own time, schedule tutors to check their progress and assist where needed as needed and then test their knowledge in person once they’ve reached the point where they’re comfortable with the subject. This would completely alleviate the stress that comes with trying to accomplish course work by a specific date and stop all the ineffective teachers from wasting everyone’s time and money. I’ll have to work on this problem some more, this could lead to some very interesting places.

12. Jacobsen: What do you think of its focus on mastery rather than completion for moving onto the next subject matter, so as to prevent a Swiss cheese situation moving forward for the educational path and knowledge frameworks of the young? Everyone needs to review material outside individuals with eidetic memories, who are so extraordinarily rare to make non-review not practical for most people.

Sepulveda (Brown): It’s a great requirement. In more traditional settings, you’re often under a time constraint that forces you to rely heavily on short-term memory without fully understanding a subject.

Studies have shown that in as little as three days after completing a class, the average student completely forgets over 90% of what they studied. So restricting progression until one has achieved mastery would be very effective for the long-term success of those using their program.

13. Jacobsen: What do you hope happens to Academia?

Sepulveda (Brown): I hope that people will stop running it like a business and take the time to use their talents to benefit everyone receptive to them.

14. Jacobsen: How come the profoundly gifted seem so out of place and out of sync with much of society?

Sepulveda (Brown): I can’t speak for others. But during my development there were a few factors that contributed to my isolation – I was very tall for my age which (coupled with my social ineptitude) made me seem intimidating to my peers (recently confirmed by a former classmate) and I’ve always been very vocal towards my professional superiors whenever something doesn’t make sense or seems unfair or invalid. Authority doesn’t mean anything to me unless it’s founded on a logical process that I agree with enough to respect. Any extra demands placed upon me only results in frustration and resentment.

It seems probable that this will be the case for most others as well.

15. Jacobsen: Even with the profound gifts, is this more an argument for the making of adaptation to social circumstances rather than rejecting and becoming lifelong bitter with them? It can happen and can make for unpleasant individual and interpersonal circumstances for individuals.

Sepulveda (Brown): I agree, it takes a lot of patience and openness between everyone involved to get through such problems.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, World Genius Directory.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 22, 2020:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2020:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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