Fox Business interviewed 17-year-old Nikhil Goyal to get the teen author’s thoughts on how to go about reforming the nation’s school system.
Goyal recently wrote a book about the problems with American schools titled “One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School,” due out in September.
Included in Goyal’s recommendations for how to fix schools is repealing No Child Left Behind, abolishing Race to the Top and “reinventing the teaching profession.” He also takes issue with testing, referring to it as “harmful and inappropriate.”
Goyal spoke to the importance of changing the model of the school system, which he claims still resembles the industrial model of the early 20th century, making it the one American institution that hasn’t changed. (Former Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has also deemed the American school system an artifact of the Industrial Revolution.)
The 17-year-old had trouble articulating what, exactly, the model classroom would look like in his view, but admitted it would not feature desks and rows and would instead be personalized and tailored to each student. He says a classroom should operate similar to a start-up by incorporating group work to facilitate collaboration.
Asked to identify a school organized along these lines, Goyal pointed to Brightworks, a private school in San Francisco. The school is not divided by subjects and instead arranges its entire curriculum around big problems and big ideas. For instance, a seven-week focus on cities would involve studying both the science of cities, as well as their politics and other facets.
When prompted that such a model could lead to “chaos,” Goyal -- who plans to major in politics -- replied, “Learning is messy.”
The high school student went on to say that the Finland model of trade schools is a step in the right direction, in that these institutions provide kids with options, instead of telling them to do this or that.
A recent study found that the U.S. continues to lag behind other industrialized countries when it comes to improving achievement, with students in Latvia, Chile and Brazil making gains in academics three times faster than American students. In 2009, a study showed that U.S. students ranked 25th out of 34 countries in math and science, behind the likes of China, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Finland.