Get to know the school 42 Silicon Valley, a teacher-free programming school 

Training professionals to be self-employed and better prepared for the job market and entrepreneurship: these are the goals that guide School 42, a school founded by Xavier Niel, owner of Iliad, a telecommunications company, in 2013, in France. The institution teaches programming for free, using a method without teachers, grades or schedules.

There are already units in Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Belgium, Moldova, Morocco, South Africa, the Netherlands and recently Brazil, which received a unit in Rio de Janeiro in 2018 and another one in Sao Paulo. Prior to this, some young Brazilians had a chance to attend classes at 42 elsewhere. One of them is Dante Nolasco, a Sebrae former student who, after attending classes at 42 Silicon Valley in the United States, founded the Marvin Project, a course meant for other young people to become autonomous and protagonists in their own learning journeys, with a similar method from 42. In this post, see how School 42 works and get inspired!

Autonomous and collaborative learning

Autonomy is a keyword at School 42. Without teachers, Niel’s idea was to try to bring the same context people find in every day at work, where there is usually no one to guide them, to the moment of learning a professional technique. Students have to know how to find solutions on their own, counting only on the help of colleagues.

Therefore, at School 42 students learn on their own, receiving help and feedback from their peers about their projects in order to improve them. The idea, therefore, is to train more independent professionals, who know how to be alone, and who are more collaborative. In an interview for BBC, the head of operations of School 42 in California stated: “The feedback we have received from employers is that students that graduate here are better prepared to seek information for themselves, without having to ask the supervisor what to do or what he must do. ”

Encouraging students to have an active attitude during the learning process, the School 42 pedagogical strategy aligns with entrepreneurial education because it is geared toward training individuals who are active in society. Besides, it enables students to act proactively and autonomously in the job market and to be prepared to open their own businesses.

Beyond technical education at School 42

The institution teaches programming to students without requiring prior knowledge on the subject. For that matter, it uses a gamified platform – which uses games’ elements and logic – so that the students learn at their own pace, in a fluid and engaging manner. Teaching is project-based, and as you progress, you gain points and unlock increasingly complex missions. The course has no predetermined duration since it depends on the pace of each one: it can last from 3 to 5 years, always ending when the person reaches level 21 on the platform.

School 42, however, is not only concerned with teaching programming languages. For them, “a degree is not enough to say that you know how to program,” as skills such as problem-solving, creativity, determination, and teamwork are also needed for a good professional in the field. Thus, the program also encourages students to develop socio-emotional skills – the so-called soft skills.

Escola 42 is an innovative institution that applies concepts such as project-based learning, gamification, soft skills, collaboration, and autonomy extensively in its curriculum, opening up a different possibility of education and with the promise of good results. The method, that arises controversial opinions by completely removing the figure of the teacher, encourages participants to really be proactive and to have an active attitude at school, which should be reflected in other aspects of life in society. Is you are looking to learn more about this subject, also learn about the method of Le Wagon school, in this interview with Fernando Americano. In it, he comments on programming as a necessary language for the future job market and for entrepreneurial education.


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