“Nobody can be taught, we all have to learn!”
With two campuses to supervise, Dr. Max Senges, Headmaster and Director of both 42 Berlin and 42 Wolfsburg, is happy to share his views!
What do you like the most about your current position?
I used to be a “digital nomad”. After almost 11 years at Google, I have firmly settled with my family and I’m very happy to be in this position at 42. These days, when you look at the world, you can feel that we are regressing towards more conservative ways. I’m really excited by the progressive drive that is 42 as a force for the individual but also for our societies. Here I can really support students from all walks of life by giving opportunity to young and old people, to empower them to pursue their own dreams and learn software engineering and technology. That’s really the most motivating and rewarding part of the job.
What did you mean by digital nomad?
I am most fascinated by the Internet as a space that brings together people from different parts of the world. It is a transnational or post-national space. In a way I am an idealist cyberhippie. I feel that people identifying as “netizen” are cosmopolitan by nature. I spent time in Canada when Netscape just came out in 1995. I am in awe about how the Internet has transformed the world since. Until I was 30, I researched and developed platforms and communities that explored how the Internet can be used for knowledge sharing. My Ph. D. in Philosophy reflects on how universities as knowledge institutions embrace the Internet as a chance for creative destruction. That is the scientific term of entrepreneurship: creating something new by transforming something already existing!
Bringing 42 to two major cities in Germany can be a challenge…
Of course, the model is so progressive it triggers all kinds of reactions! We are very careful in expressing that this is complementary to existing educational institutions and talk about it to inspire others. We outline its roots, from Confucius to more modern figures like Maria Montessori and Mitchel Resnick, and how 42 manages to embrace this culture thanks to what Sophie Viger (CEO of 42) Olivier Crouzet (director of pedagogical innovation) and the 42 Network teams have achieved together.
Of all the values shared by our campuses, which one would you choose?
Diversity, or radical inclusion, is an incredible value. We all talk about it in the 42 network of campuses, we celebrate and deliberate about how we can be together as a diverse community. It promotes social mobility and also rewards those who are brave to see the opportunities and tackle them. Our goal is to have one third of our students coming from an environment where they could otherwise not join a higher education institution. This value, and all the other one shared by the 42 campuses around the world, really describe who we are as a community.
What are your dreams for the future of education?
I hope that we will stop being taught what to do in order to get a certification and then a job! One of the most important insights that all 42 students and all learners hopefully eventually have is that nobody can be taught : we all have to learn, embrace the knowledge, and make it our own. This process allows you to learn for yourself, to become who you want to be, and to build your identity based on your definition of what a good life is, rather than your ambition for a social status or a certain job.