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No degrees or special skills are required to apply, and those who are accepted attend for free for three to five years. 46 million on a school in Silicon Valley. Niel founded Free, France’s second-largest internet service provider, among other ventures. The result is something unlike any other school in France, or elsewhere.
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Nicolas Sadirac, head of École 42. The students create what they need all the time. At 8:42 every morning, students get digital projects to complete. They have 48 hours to complete them, so they are always juggling various projects, sort of like in real life.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Since there are no teachers, it is up to students to figure things out. In education-speak, École 42 is both project-based learning and peer-to-peer learning, on steroids. In the most recent batch of students, 64,000 took a basic online logic test to qualify for entry. More than 20,000 passed, but the school only accepted the top 3,000 due to space constraints. While the school used to require that students master a set of skills before leaving, it has now ditched that requirement.
It used to have year-long groups: it tossed aside that idea too, because students work at different paces. The curriculum is gamified: Sadirac describes it as World of Warcraft, but where dungeons have been replaced it with digital projects. And in a twist on the assumption that all great innovations start in Silicon Valley, École 42 launched in France before California—its campus in Fremont opened last year, three years after the Paris flagship. Nicolas, 22, has been working for up to 12 hours a day. Celeste, 25, who used to work in infographics. This self-directed approach is the point of the school.
I ask Celeste if she wouldn’t prefer a teacher, or at least some guidance. But when I get the answer myself its more self-gratifying. There’s a food truck out back, where students gather and smoke cigarettes. Game of Thrones screenings and more mundane things, like sleeping arrangements. Who cares about another coding school? Schools around the world, from kindergarten up, are scrambling to figure out what skills kids need to thrive in the future.