Episode 19: Blog Post By Zak Malamed, Student & Activist

We Need a Learning Revolution!


The student voice is all too often ignored. I am proud to say that I have found a friend in Nikhil Goyal, who shares my dedication and enthusiasm for changing this unfortunate reality.

Nikhil discovered his intrinsic motivation at a young age. His entrepreneurial persona has both shaped his methodology and his ideology. This is why he is capable of spearheading a “learning revolution.” For his book, he has interviewed approximately 150 stakeholders, but has captured the attention of thousands more. This is evidenced by his social media prowess. With nearly 15,000 Twitter followers, Nikhil has clearly made more than a dent in the dialogue revolving around education.

“The Gates Foundation, among other corporate powers, has exerted their influence on the DOE. This leaves the student voice on the backburner. It also leaves public schools on the backburner.”
– Zak Malamed

Between his worldwide speaking engagements, his relentless drive to do more, and his participation in galvanizing the student voice through our Student Voice Twitter chat, now titled #stuchat (every Monday at 8:30 pm EST), it is clear that he has a vision and he has a passion.

He wisely recognizes the great divide in the education community, between the corporate reformers and the progressive educators. Nikhil believes that we fail to actually recognize the flaws of the current system. He specifies both the standardized culture and the disconnect between the classroom and the real world.

Ultimately, Nikhil firmly states his belief that we can only discuss these issues for so long. He wants to see the modern classroom become an incubator for real world ideas. Ideally, this would create a more open minded, more understanding society.

Nikhil’s consummate education system would be passion driven. It would shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation. It would also shift from pedagogy to andragogy. This is based on his belief that “education only happens when kids have an interest.” He even calls for an end to the modern classroom structure and proposes an interdisciplinary, personalized education, which would light a fire in the minds of more students.

Nikhil also envisions a future where the student voice is prominent and prevalent. This is already happening at a school where students democratically elect whether or not a teacher should stay on for the following year.  On the federal level, he advocates for a youth council to advise the Department of Education (DOE). Please Speak Freely host Eric Gurna goes on to describe a disheartening conversation with someone from the DOE who conveyed that actual students rarely come up in conversation in the office.

Students: That is a rallying call for action.

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Please Speak Freely

On Please Speak Freely, Eric Gurna, founder of Development Without Limits interviews leading thinkers, artists and others to shed light on key issues and explore different perspectives about youth development and education. The idea is to get past the platitudes and institutional positions, and have honest, nuanced conversations about things that really matter to young people and communities. Please Speak Freely guests include:

  • Raffi, Children’s Troubadour and Founder of the Centre for Child Honouring
  • Alfie Kohn, Author of several books including Punished By Rewards and The Schools Our Children Deserve
  • Dr. Pedro Noguera, Professor of Education at New York University
  • Karen Pittman, President & CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment
  • Tony Smith, Former Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District
  • Lenore Skenazy, “America’s Worst Mom” and Author of Free-Range Kids

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