A French billionaire has decided to open a new code school named 42 US in Silicon Valley. The school is free for students and teaches them how to code and some computer science skills. Their premise for the $0 price is that they want to remove barriers to education.
On the one hand, this is amazing and we hope that more code schools like this open up, especially when they are low-cost or free. We want there to be more software developers in the world and we want more people to appreciate the complexity involved in the hard work of developers.
It seems as if they are learning a lot at the 42 US code school:
Bir explained how the 18- to 30-year-old students take an online logic test to see if they have the general aptitude and temperament for 42. If they do they are accepted into its “piscine,” the French word for swimming pool, meant to connote the school’s “sink or swim” ethos. Students need not provide transcripts, personal essays, or anything else.
The piscine is 42’s month-long crash-course in programming, starting with learning C from scratch. Students spend 12 or more hours per day, six to seven days per week. If they do well, students are invited back to a three- to five-year program with increasing levels of specialty. The school expects many students to drop out, either because they can’t hack it or, ideally, because they get a job. Case in point: the piscine we saw started off with 250 students, but when we visited during the third week, 75 students had dropped out. (The next piscine, which began on August 8, welcomed 500 students, with plans to expand to 2,048 students.)
On the other hand, the students look to be learning how to fit into the typical corporate environment with noisy and stressful open plan offices and long hours of a poorly-run Silicon Valley startup. One of their students points this out:
“The expectations are too high,” she said. “It’s supposed to simulate a real-life work environment where your employer is asking too much of you, and you have to learn to be balanced in yourself.”
At Software Dev Group, the goal is for software developers to push back against employers who ask too much and who refuse to provide more training or more co-workers to help with the workload. It is definitely valuable for students to learn about future horrible bosses and how bad the work environment can be in terms of being over-worked and it is up to us to give future coders better workplaces.
Overall we are excited to see what the future holds for the 42 US code school and its students, because we also want all developers to be more educated.