“We believe that IT has nothing to do with math and physics… it is more artistic than scientific,” says Nicolas Sadirac, as he cheerfully slaughters whole herds of sacred cows. “Knowledge is not useful any more, because IT advances in revolutionary ways, not iterative ones… we ask our students not to learn, just to solve the problem.” Oh, yes, and: “There is no teacher.”
42, the coding school with no teachers, the quasi-university whose name comes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the pedagogical folly and/or revolution funded to the tune of some $250 million from the deep pockets of French multibillionaire Xavier Niel, has two campuses. One will open in Fremont, California later this year.
I recently visited the other, located on the outskirts of Paris1. I walked in thinking it a folly, and walked out thinking it might just be a revolution.
Some basic facts: 42 accepts 1,000 students between 18 and 30 years of age every year. Tuition is free. Student loans pay for living expenses. The program lasts roughly three years, but some students finish in 18 months; some in five years; some take jobs and then return. Forty percent of its students are previous high-school dropouts. Only 10 percent are women, but that grim statistic is still twice as good as traditional French IT schools and they’re trying to improve it further. The French school has been running for three years now. Read More…