Homeschooled with MIT courses at 5, accepted to MIT at 15

After acquiring his entire elementary and secondary education from OpenCourseWare and MITx, Ahaan Rungta joined the MIT Class of 2019 at age 15.

Homeschooled with MIT courses at 5, accepted to MIT at 15 | MIT News

Ahaan Rungta and his family moved from Calcutta, India, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2001, the same year MIT announced OpenCourseWare (OCW), a bold plan to publish all of MIT’s course materials online and to share them with the world for free. Little did his parents realize at the time that their two-year-old son — already an avid reader — would eventually acquire his entire elementary and secondary education from OpenCourseWare and MITx, and would be admitted to the MIT class of 2019 at the age of 15.

“When I was five years old my mom told me ‘there’s this thing called OCW,’” says Rungta, who was homeschooled. “I just couldn’t believe how much material was available. From that moment on I spent the next few years taking OCW courses.”

When most kids are entering kindergarten, Rungta was studying physics and chemistry through OpenCourseWare. For Rungta’s mother, the biggest challenge to homeschooling her son was staying ahead of him, finding courses and materials to feed his insatiable mind.

“My parents always supported me and found the materials I needed to keep learning. My mother was a resource machine. As I got older, I studied math through OCW’s Highlights for High School program, and when I was ready for Linear Algebra, I watched all of Professor Gil Strang’s 18.06 video lectures. From the time I was 5, I learned exclusively from OCW. And I knew then I wanted to go to MIT.”

When Rungta turned 12, his family moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, as his parents realized he needed to be in a more intellectually stimulating environment. He also wanted to live closer to MIT.

For his 13th birthday, Rungta only wanted one thing — a visit to the Institute. “I stepped onto campus and it changed my life,” he says. “I will never forget the feeling of walking into the lobby of Building 7, looking up, and then touching the pillars to see if they were real. I couldn’t believe I was at MIT. My life and my ambitions moved to another level at that moment.”

Later that day, Rungta saw an Indian restaurant in the Student Center that had been closed down. He suggested to his dad — a chef who owned a restaurant in Lowell — that he look into reopening the café. His father soon became the manager of Café Spice, and the family moved from Lowell to Cambridge. Rungta studied in the Student Center every day while his father ran the café.

MIT was undergoing big changes of its own that year, with the launch of MITx, in which MIT courses would be made available online and delivered on the edX platform. Just as Rungta was ready for a new intellectual challenge, MIT once again was there for him, as its own digital learning efforts were expanding to now provide online courses in addition to course materials. When he was 9, Rungta took 3.091 (Introduction to Solid State Chemistry) through OCW with Professor Donald Sadoway. Four years later, he signed up to take it again — this time through MITx with Professor Michael Cima. He has since taken 55 MITx and OCW courses, and he now uses these online resources to supplement his on-campus undergraduate experience.

Reflecting on his journey from Calcutta to Cambridge and the many intersecting moments with MIT, Rungta is grateful to his parents and to MIT for being responsive to his needs every step of the way. “MIT has been my middle school, my high school, my entire education. That’s pretty amazing. Some people think I’m gifted, but I don’t think so. OCW was a gift to me. I was lucky to be born at the time MIT was opening up education to the world and extra lucky that OCW brought MIT and me together.” 

As he ponders declaring a major next year, Rungta pauses for a moment, and then he lights up. “In an ideal world, I would want to major in everything.”

Video: Modern Educayshun

Written and Directed by Neel Kolhatkar Modern Educayshun delves into the potential dangers of our increasingly reactionary culture bred by social media and political correctness. According to Neel “the film is the appraisal of science and reason – how extensive political correctness can hinder the pursuit of such values.”


McCarthy on The Self-Directed Child

“Self direction is a key outcome of a Montessori education. How do we, as adults, facilitate it?” asks the Maria Montessori blog? Jesse McCarthy gives the answer.

From The Self-directed Child — Maria Montessori:

When I began teaching years ago, I had the view that I can change any child; overtime, however, through working with and alongside hundreds of unique students, I came to see that such a view is more accurately stated as any child can change himself. A subtle shift in phrasing, yet a fundamental distinction in pedagogy. This self-directed approach to education does not mean the teacher, the “guide,” is unnecessary. To the contrary, a thoughtful guide creates the content-rich, and often highly structured environment in which a child can thrive, but only through her own will. As Rachel’s story exemplifies – and as Maria Montessori spent her life both observing in children and demonstrating for adults – growth is impossible to achieve for another human being: “One must act for him or herself.”

Marva Collins: The World Loses an American Education Giant

From Marva Collins, Educator Who Aimed High for Poor, Black Students, Dies at 78 – The New York Times:

Marva Collins, a former substitute teacher whose success at educating poor black students in a private school she founded made her a candidate for secretary of education and the subject of a television movie, died on Wednesday in a hospice near her home in South Carolina. She was 78. […] After working as a substitute teacher for 14 years in Chicago public schools, Ms. Collins cashed in her $5,000 in pension savings and opened Westside Preparatory School in 1975. The school originally operated in the basement of a local college and then, to be free of red tape (the same reason she said she had refused federal funds), in the second floor of her home.

She began with four students, including her daughter, charging $80 a month in tuition. Enrollment at the school, on Chicago’s South Side, grew to more than 200, in classes from prekindergarten through eighth grade. It remained in operation for more than 30 years.

Ms. Collins set high academic standards, emphasized discipline and promoted a nurturing environment. She taught phonics, the Socratic method and the classics and, she insisted, never expected her students to fail.

“Kids don’t fail,” she once said. “Teachers fail, school systems fail. The people who teach children that they are failures — they are the problem.”

At Westside Prep, she said in 2004 when she was awarded the National Humanities Medal, “there are no dropouts, no substitute teachers, and when teachers are absent, the students teach themselves.”

“We’re an anomaly in a world of negatives,” she added. “Our children are self-motivated, self-generating, self-propelled.”

An article about the school in 1977 in The Chicago Sun-Times attracted national attention, an interview on “60 Minutes” and the interest of filmmakers, who went on to produce “The Marva Collins Story,” a 1981 television movie on CBS with Cicely Tyson playing Ms. Collins and Morgan Freeman as her husband. […] As her stature as an educator grew, she began to train other teachers from around the country and published several books, including “ ‘Ordinary’ Children, Extraordinary Teachers” and “Marva Collins’ Way,” written with Civia Tamarkin. Speaking engagements followed.

In 1980, President-elect Ronald Reagan was said to be leaning toward choosing Ms. Collins for secretary of education, but she said she would reject the job if it were offered. By that time she had already turned down offers to run the public school systems in Chicago and Los Angeles. […]

She insisted that she never craved awards or publicity. All she wanted, she told The Island Packet, the local newspaper, in 2007, was “to be able to say I got an A-plus on the assignment God gave me.”

You can read some comments from past students at

OCON 2005 Lectures and Panels

This year’s Objectivist Summer Conference 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina features and outstanding lineup of talks and lecturers, including the return of some of our favorite lecturers.

From Objectivist Summer Conference 2015 – Talks and Panels

  • C. Bradley Thompson: The Abolitionist Movement and Its Lessons for Today
  • John Allison: The Leadership Crisis and the Free-Market Cure
  • Andrew Bernstein: Objectivism versus Kantianism in The Fountainhead and Black Innovators and Entrepreneurs under Capitalism
  • Eric Daniels: From “Sputnik” to the Internet: Real Solutions for Reforming Science Education
  • Onkar Ghate: “Charlie Hebdo”, the West and the Need to Ridicule Religion
  • Peter Schwartz: Defining Basic Moral Concepts and Principles and Anti-Principles in Ethics (advanced talk)
  • George Selgin:Money Under Laissez-Faire andThe Destabilizing Consequences of Central Banking
  • Amesh Adalja: Infectious Diseases and National Security
  • Rituparna Basu: Understanding the Arguments for Universal Health Care
  • Michael S. Berliner: How Music Saved a Life: Ayn Rand and Operetta
  • John Dennis: Making Decisions in Context
  • Ray Girn: LePort Schools Information Session
  • Gena Gorlin: Battling Depression and Anxiety: Insights from Moral Philosophy and Clinical Science and The Science of Self-Control: What We Can (and Cannot) Learn from Contemporary Psychologists
  • Elan Journo: The Jihadist Movement and The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict
  • Ryan Krause: In Defense of Monopolies: How Antitrust Criminalizes Business Strategy
  • Andrew Lewis: Magna Carta and Its 800-Year Legacy
  • Keith Lockitch:Climate Change and Ideology
  • Shoshana Milgram: Moral Self-Defense: How-To Advice from Ayn Rand and Filming “The Fountainhead”: Ayn Rand’s First Plan
  • Jean Moroney: Aligning Your Subconscious Values with Your Conscious Convictions and Fueling Achievement with Objectivist Values
  • Adam Mossoff: Life, Liberty and Intellectual Property: Why IP Rights Are Fundamental Property Rights
  • Gregory Salmieri:Epistemology and Justice in the Age of Social Media
  • Thomas Shoebotham:The Legacy of Beethoven,Schumann and Musical Poetry,Chopin, the Bel Canto Pianist,Mendelssohn: Classicizing Romanticism,Berlioz: The Symphony Reimagined, and Liszt and the Virtuoso Tradition
  • Steve Simpson: Free Speech Under Siege
  • Aaron Smith:Benevolence, Goodwill and the Rationally Selfish Life
  • Tara Smith: How Does Objectivity Apply to the Law? and Constitutionalism–the Backbone of Objective Law
  • Don Watkins: How to Think about Inequality

and the following panels…

  • ARI’s Accomplishments in Its First 30 Years
  • Financial Matters
  • Life Extension in Our Lifetimes
  • Running Topic-Specific Centers
  • Admiring Ayn Rand in Hollywood

University of Oklahoma Tolerates Violence But Not Unpopular Speech

Apparently the University of Oklahoma rewards violence against women with a suspension and unpopular speech with an expulsion.

From Oklahoma: Tough On Racism, Weak On Assault, Burglury | The Daily Caller:

University of Oklahoma president David Boren’s immediate expulsion of students involved with a recently-leaked racist video stands in sharp contrast to the lighter treatment the school has given to football players found responsible for violent crimes.

Just two days after a video leaked of Oklahoma students, mostly freshmen, singing a racist song on a bus, Boren took decisive action by summarily expelling two students he claims played a leading roll in the chant. The students, he said, had created a “hostile learning environment” for other students and had to be kicked out immediately, with no opportunity to reform. Boren has suggested that more expulsions could be on the way.

“There is zero tolerance for this kind of threatening racist behavior at the University of Oklahoma,” Boren said.

From Oklahoma Stands Tall Against Racism, Weak Against Violence | FOX Sports:

Less than a month ago they allowed Joe Mixon, a talented running back videotaped punching a female student in an off-campus bar, back onto the football team after a year long suspension just from the football team. Yep, Mixon punched a female student and was never even kicked off campus. The punch was so violent that his female victim, a Sooner student, suffered a fractured jaw, a broken cheek bone, a broken nose and a fractured orbital bone near her left eye. Oh, and Mixon also began the incident, according to the complaint, by directing a gay slur at the woman’s male companion at the bar.

What did President David Boren say in that case?

“The judicial outcome and the video speak for themselves,” Oklahoma President David L. Boren said. “The University is an educational institution, which always sets high standards that we hope will be upheld by our students. We hope that our students will all learn from those standards, but at the same time, we believe in second chances so that our students can learn and grow from life’s experiences.” Boren said Mixon will be given a chance to “earn his way back on the team.” Oh, so the star running back gets a second chance for breaking four bones on a female student’s face on video, but the guys in a frat don’t get a second chance for saying something racist on a video?

Apparently, punching and breaking a women’s face while making a gay slur is better then saying ‘N’ word on campus at the University of Oklahoma.

The proper response should have been to not expel the racists but to educate the ignorant students on why racism is evil — and not to coddle violent thugs because they are “talented” football players who bring money and glory to the school.

CROSS: A college degree is not a mystical guarantee to a job

Comments Professor R. Garmong:

I don’t know whether this is real or not, but it represents a major flaw in discussions of higher education in America. People treat higher education as an end in itself, an intrinsic value, without regard to what values that education serves.

People throw around numbers about unemployed college graduates, often without looking at what their degrees were in. On the flip side, people advocate something called “higher education” or even “universal higher education,” without asking what will be studied and whether there’s economic need for it.

The common assumption is that a college degree should be a mystical guarantee of a job, like a grant of tenure from the universe. But that’s not how the world works.


I think fewer than half the people currently enrolled in higher education in America ought to be. I blame the GI Bill. What seemed like a good idea — make university education available to everyone — quickly made university education into a requirement for everyone.

I would add that the ideal of universal higher education enabled the failure of secondary education in America, by putting off the consequences. If the colleges and universities exist to provide a buffer, high schools can get away with graduating uneducated students.