**42 as the Meaning of Learning**
David Giron, the Director of 42 Codam College in Amsterdam, shares insights into the innovative educational institution on the London Futurists Podcast. 42 is a pioneering software engineering school with a unique peer-to-peer learning approach. Giron discusses how the world of education will be impacted by technology, particularly generative AI.
**Placing Students at the Centre**
Giron emphasizes that 42’s philosophy revolves around placing the student at the center of the learning process. Unlike traditional approaches, where students passively receive information, 42 encourages students to actively seek learning opportunities. The evaluation process at 42 is based on peer reviews, mirroring academic evaluation.
42 implements “competency-based learning” or “mastery learning,” which requires students to demonstrate mastery of a module before moving onto the next. This approach is particularly crucial in subjects like mathematics and software engineering, where a lack of understanding in one module can hinder progress in subsequent ones.
While initially focusing on technical subjects, Giron believes that 42’s approach can be applied to various other subjects. However, practical constraints such as equipment and consumables pose challenges for expanding into fields like chemical engineering or woodworking. Giron acknowledges that 42’s approach may not suit every student and suggests it as one option among many.
**Metrics and Failure**
Giron measures success by the enthusiasm of employers to hire 42’s graduates and the satisfaction of the students themselves. He believes that students should experience failure within the school environment, as it can foster resilience. However, failure should not undermine a student’s fundamental confidence.
The Covid-19 pandemic presented significant challenges for 42, as face-to-face interaction was a core element of their approach. The school had to transition to online learning, resulting in higher dropout rates and increased course completion time. Additionally, for some students, 42 provided their only social contact, creating a social isolation issue.
Giron recognizes the potential impact of ChatGPT and similar generative AI models. While some simple software engineering tasks may be fully automated, Giron believes that the adoption of GPT technology will be slower than anticipated and will not replace humans in most software engineering roles. Only a portion of 42’s students regularly use GPTs, showcasing gradual adoption.
Giron emphasizes the need for agility in the face of technological advancements and acknowledges that it is too early to fully grasp the impacts of advanced AIs on education. As the pace of technological progress accelerates, cultivating an agile mindset becomes increasingly important.