Finance professor with a career teaching in California and Portugal, Pedro Santa Clara is not afraid of new challenges. With a unique perspective on both the classical university system and the world of innovation, he is now the Director of 42 Lisboa.
What is the thing you like the most at 42 Lisboa?
My outstanding team here! I am really a people-person. The 42 Lisboa team is a group of young, very enthusiastic and very capable people. They seem to be able to do impossible things every day! For example, the hardest challenge we faced was finding a suitable building. We found the one in June 2020, and our first Piscine was held in October — right in the middle of the pandemic. That was an incredible feat: for a small group of people to turn an industrial building into a school in about four months!
What value of 42 is the most important to you?
What really drives 42 forward is the combination of inclusion and meritocracy. With this combination, 42 have a very strong work ethic coupled with the ability to attract a lot of people. At 42 Lisboa, we have 17 year-old students fresh out of high school, professional economists, engineers, doctors, airline pilots, bartenders, personal trainers, musicians… My greatest joy is to see that one of our most advanced students at the moment used to be a factory worker in a car factory, making car seats. He is just brilliant. I don’t think he could have had a smiliar chance in traditional education.
What are your thoughts about the future of education?
I believe that education is going to change faster in the next 10 years than it has in the last 2500 years. In fact, education hasn’t really changed since ancient Greece! For centuries, you only had to get a bunch of students in front of a teacher, listening for an hour and a half, then moving on to the next subject. Project-based learning and peer collaboration take roots in the works of Jean Piaget and Maria Montessor. Until now, it was expensive and not really scalable. The brilliant thing about 42 is how to bring technology to improve pedagogy.
Bringing technology and teaching isn’t really new…
Over the last two years in this pandemic, we’ve heard a lot about technology in teaching. Quite honestly — I think it was total bullshit. The technology was used to transpose a traditional classroom online. It was really the worst possible experience that you can imagine. I’m quite confident that over the next 10 years, things are going to change a lot: new players will emerge in this industry, whereas independants players like 42 or big tech companies. This will make education more accessible and more impactful, developing the skills that we need for tomorrow.
What are your plans for 42 Lisboa ?
We’re still young, about a year old! We’re still growing and expanding. We should be in a steady state in a year and a half. Our first big goal is to be able to place our students in internships that really develop them and make them grow. Then, to help them find the best possible jobs when they finish the programme. We’re very focused on that.