Put simply, mental models are the set of tools that you use to think. Each mental model offers a different framework that you can use to look at life (or at an individual problem).This is the same method that folks like Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway, and Elon Musk use. Although Elon Musk has sometimes been referred to as an "expert generalist", it essentially equates to the same thing. Whereby if a person is taught how to think creatively and critically and is extremely well read across many different subjects and disciplines, they are able to creatively make mental links, and potentially solve problems in a novel way, that create breakthrough moments. These people aren't necessarily savants or anything like that, they've simply laid the foundations, with the right raw materials and honed the ability to make abstract connections with what if questions.
There have been several articles that discuss how Elon Musk, learns and reads, like this one here; and another one here. There are also book lists for Charlie Munger on blogs like this link here. There are many more, and people continue to list the books that shaped him and helped to create his world as it exists today. But to encourage people to read the books that honed his path completely misses the point of what happened with him. The concept isn't to spoon-feed the reader with a list of books to be like Elon Musk; he whole purpose of this post is to encourage people to get children to read widely and read deeply. Not to become an expert in any subject, but to become knowledgable, in the basics of a wide range of topics, and then practice asking what-if questions (no matter how whacky) to encourage your brain to make connections that maybe weren't there before.
Both of the men I talk about here are experts and huge successes in their own right in completely different fields of expertise; however both used the same basic method to get there. Surely we owe it our children as parents to encourage habits like this, and especially the schools. For as long as every teacher is teaching the same curriculum, from the same books, at the same time, in school rooms that never deviate from the curriculum, surely each pupil will graduate with the same basic information and skills, to answer the same set of problems with the same answers. The end result of a childhood of schooling is capable young adults, not nuts and bolts, not widgets.