Nikhil Goyal is an international speaker, educational enthusiast, and author of One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School—and he is still in high school.
After hearing that Nikhil Goyhal was named the Future Secretary of Education by The Washington Post and reading Forbes rave about the young lad, we picked up his book One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School, to see what we could learn from his unique perspective. We spent a little time talking with him and here’s what he shared with us.
What influenced you to look at education differently?
My hatred of going to school and being forced to sit in class and listen inspired me to take on revolutionizing the system. I had many conversations with students, parents, educators, and policymakers on the state of education in the nation and how they believed it should be changed. That was the tipping point for me and I craved to be a part of this change.
What’s the hardest thing about being a young acclaimed author?
The hardest thing is juggling school with promoting my book. For example, I need to make sure speaking engagements don’t overlap with school too much. It’s a pest. I’ve missed out on a few great opportunities because of school. Fortunately, I’ll be graduating high school in January 2013.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given?
Get out of your comfort zone and do things you would have never dreamed you could do. And never wait for permission to do something extraordinary and game-changing.
Who inspires you, and why?
To quote from Apple’s Think Different ad, “people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world.” I love people who are disrupting their industry or field as well as people who don’t follow the norm. Unfortunately too many people believe that compliance is the shortcut to success.
If you could share anything about education to the world, what would it be?
We need to listen to the hundreds of years of research from thinkers like John Dewey, Maria Montessori, Paulo Freire, Jean Piaget, and Seymour Papert. Their ideas were certainly ahead of their time and must be applied today.
What is your end goal with your message?
My mission is to spearhead a national conversation with all the stakeholders in education about the future of learning. The end goal would be to transform the city into a school, let children become the captains of their learning, and reinvent education from scratch.
How has your book impacted your life personally?
I’ve started living my life to the fullest. I treat each day as an opportunity to learn something new and meet an extraordinary person. I’ve self-directed my learning even more so and collaborated with all types of people.
What would you say to other young social entrepreneurs to encourage them to pursue their passions?
First, abide by this saying by Steve Jobs: “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Second, never stop taking risks and failing—over and over and over again. Third, start building a network of friends and mentors who will be there for you, guiding you in the process, and minimizing your mistakes. Fourth, start a blog documenting the work you’re doing to create an audience for yourself. And fifth and most simply, don’t follow the norm—chart your own road.
Who is the most interesting person you have met along the way?
Monika Hardy. She’s one of the most well connected people in education. Hardy and her students at the TSD Innovation Lab have been creating the be.app, where they re-imagine the city as the school. They want to extract the compulsion element of public schooling and replace it with chaos where the application will facilitate that chaos.
How do you plan to change the world?
I want to disrupt industries and help humanity.
Nikhil Goyal is a 17-year-old author of One Size Does Not Fit All: A
Student’s Assessment of School. The Washington Post recently lauded
him as a “future education secretary.” His work has been featured in
the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, FOX, GOOD, NPR, and
others. Connect with Nikhil on Twitter @nikhilgoya_l or by email: