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n I discovered 42 in France it was my ‘eureka” moment!

A school that had mastered the way to disrupt learning, so it could serve a more authentic purpose. A belief that ‘everyone can be great’ and ‘someone’s social status should not hinder them from learning’.

With this belief at the heart, 42 schools are free, no prior qualifications are necessary, they have no teachers and use a peer to peer gamified pedagogy. Very soon I became obsessed with finding a way to fund, build and bring 42 to Australia.

Peer learning is the methodology used at 42 and by far the most disruptive!! Operating without teachers or any formal classrooms or schedule, students must quickly adapt to this radical environment where critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, collaboration and creativity, not just coding, becomes the norm. These are vital human skills that are necessary in the future of work, and yet are most often left out of the classroom.

Frequently we see people come into 42 shy, awkward and afraid to speak for fear of judgement and failure. They learn almost immediately that this insecurity will not help them progress at 42, as it requires a person to dig deep into themselves and relearn how to learn. Peer learning requires students to evaluate and be evaluated by their peers.

The process of peer evaluation pushes them to articulate their thinking with words, ensuring they clearly know the code they have written. They are learning to communicate, day in day out, resulting in new found confidence, even among the most disengaged learners. Building relationships, learning to trust, making mistakes and having fun together, is what transforms these individuals into teams and teams into tribes.

Navigating an optimal way to learn and seeking solutions to problems with their peers, rather than having to memorize lessons, will, by design, help soft skills grow. With the absence of someone giving students the answer, they must think for themselves, perhaps fail, then try and try again, building grit and resilience in every milestone. Once students learn how to learn, not only do they work better in teams, they can also better navigate the workplace, participate actively and not be afraid to share and collaborate.

Companies need realistic expectations on students in terms of their technical skills and knowledge, the reality is every business is looking for something specific. Getting the foundations of coding right within a peer to peer pedagogy ensures that students are trained today for the jobs of tomorrow.

At 42 collaboration is the key to success, not competition! As one student commented in the final week of his piscine “I didn’t expect I would help people as much as I did. I’m a very shy person, but I found myself really coming out of my shell at 42.

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