Olivier Grosse is the General Director of 42 Angoulême. He looks back on his career and insists on the necessary role of active teaching methods.
What was it that made the position of General Director at 42 Angoulême appealing to you in the first place?
I’ve always been interested in IT, having been immersed in it during my PhD in economics. At the time, I was doing VBA simulations in Excel! I worked in an engineering school, first as a professor and research fellow, then as the director of studies and ultimately as the head of the school. I felt the need for companies to specialise in IT in Angoulême: this is what led me to apply for the position of General Director at 42 Angoulême.
What aspects of your role drive you on a daily basis?
What mainly drives me is to offer our candidates a chance to train for exciting jobs that are in high demand. For some of them, it is also a chance to turn their lives around. It also is an opportunity for me to make 42 Angoulême the answer to Nouvelle-Aquitaine companies’ needs in terms of digital skills. I have already had the opportunity to set up a competency-based approach and blended learning, as well as to test alternative methods of active teaching in the past, and I therefore was curious to see how 42 worked. I was also intrigued by its reputation and its project regarding companies.
What is the value of 42 that you hold most dear?
The ability we have to combine inclusion with free education. Allowing everyone, regardless of their background, to access a very high level of training if they have the will and resolve to do so: to me, that’s what equal opportunity is about. 42 gives everyone a chance. It is the exact opposite of other selection methods for qualifications that are high in demand. For instance, the selection for some university courses is based on a random draw. Seeing students who weren’t given a chance before fulfill their potential and truly take off in their academic and later professional life is something that I find very touching. When you witness that, you’re glad to get up in the morning to go and work!
What is your view on active learning and how does it compare to traditional teaching?
I am convinced that active learning is key to the future of education. Conventional education methods no longer suit today’s generations’ needs, and one might wonder whether they suited those of the the previous generation. Today we have the required technology to take a step back and realize that it is an outdated method. 42 is going in that direction: it is about giving students exciting lessons as much as it is about allowing them to fulfill their potential. It is a pity that such learning methods are in place in France for pupils up to the age of 12, and that they are then replaced by a system that crushes all creativity until the end of high school — and beyond.