Schools on Trial — Chapter

Nikhil Goyal, 17; Future Education Secretary?

—Washington Post

Goyal’s enthusiasm gives me hope that we can do it, that if we band together, we can make this work.

— Forbes

This high school kid just wrote a book on education? NERD.

—Washington Post: The Fix

Nowadays, nearly every educator-pundit, Wall Street tycoon, and Hollywood mogul has his or her recipe for education in the 21st century. It’s high time to learn the views and recommendations of a thoughtful young person. And what high school student Nikhil Goyal has to say, on the basis of his research, interviews, and reflections, is well worth pondering.

— Howard Gardner, Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and author of Truth Beauty and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Era of Truthiness and Twitter

What a wonderful book! I nominate Nikhil Goyal for the U.S. Secretary of Education!

— Diane Ravitch, former Assistant Secretary of Education and New York Times bestselling author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System

Don’t read this book only for the novelty of hearing a student perspective. And don’t read it just because it nicely articulates how the current school system privileges empty efficiencies and test-taking over creative and critical thinking and the joys of learning. Read it because it puts into words pretty much every critical thought you yourself have ever had about education – your own, your students’, or your children’s – and lays out some innovative ways to overhaul the system. You’ll come away realizing you’re not alone, and that change is possible. Not a bad place to start. 

— Holly Ojalvo, former editor of the New York Times Learning Network, founder of News 101, LLC, and veteran teacher with a decade of experience

Nikhil Goyal is a leader among young people who are changing the world of education. Once you read this book, you will never view education the same way. Goyal represents the future — which looks nothing like the past.

— Michael Ellsberg, bestselling author of The Education of Millionaires

This unique book gives you a student’s view to school and education reform unlike any volume written by academic scholars. It is fresh, inspiring and awakening. Simply a must read for anybody interested in today’s schools and how they should look like tomorrow.

— Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of CIMO, Finland, and author of Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn From Educational Change in Finland?

A wonderful read; full of ideas, proposals and examples to fruitfully mull over — some new, some old — all from a fresh perspective.

— Deborah Meier, Senior Scholar at NYU Steinhardt School of Education

Everyone has an opinion about how to improve our schools, but no one asks students — the customers — their view. Nikhil Goyal has stepped into this vacuum with a compelling book that offers a student’s perspective on the need to radically transform education. Anyone who wants to know what really goes on in schools — and what most needs to change — should read this important book.

— Tony Wagner, Innovation Education Fellow at Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard and bestselling author of Creating Innovators

The most innovative young minds are sitting in our classrooms today, and it’s up to them to solve the world’s greatest problems tomorrow. But we’re forcing them down one, prescribed path that’s designed to stifle creativity and experimentation. Nikhil Goyal uncovers why our education system is this way, how we can change it, and what learning could look like if we empowered students to learn real-world skills they’re passionate about and will use to change the world.

— Skillshare

It’s hard to think of many other industries where the customer’s voice is paid such little attention as it is in the field of primary and secondary education. Nikhil Goyal has set out with the lofty goal of changing that — his effort and his provocative thinking are proof that we should be involving students all the more in the discussion about how they are educated.

— James Allworth, New York Times bestselling co-author of How Will You Measure Your Life? 

Nikhil Goyal has written an insightful, rich, and engaging scholarly text that rivals what many new are Ph.D.s are composing at the age of 27. He demonstrates how impassioned learning can defy age, schooling, and experience. This book should be strongly recommended to all high school and college students as well as faculty and administrators in both sectors of education.

— Dr. Kyra Gaunt, Ph.D., 2009 TED Fellow and Associate Professor, Baruch College-CUNY

One Size Does Not Fit All is one pissed off book, painting the problems of our education system in vivid colors. If Nikhil Goyal is the product of that system, though, it can’t be all bad — his book is well-researched and argued.

— John Katzman, founder of the Princeton Review and chairman at Noodle Education and 2tor, Inc.

It’s amazing that education is the dominant force in our young lives, yet in this fast-paced, ever changing world, it’s barely moved an inch forward. With a driving intellectual curiosity and a desire to see real change, Nikhil Goyal grabs a shovel and digs in. It’s about time we took a fresh look at how to upgrade our education system, and in this book Nikhil truly takes us there.

— Jeff Hoffman, Co-Founder of ColorJar and Serial Entrepreneur at and

In One Size Does Not Fit All, Nikhil Goyal does more than simply diagnose the problem; he offers a roadmap to transform our schools. Every parent, every teacher, every policymaker, and every citizen should read this book.

— Larry Bock, Founder of the USA Science & Engineering Festival

Pay serious attention to the frustration of this precocious high schooler, as we are far past the point of the “canari in the goldmine.” You may not agree with every single recommendation, but Nikhil Goyal says it candidly as he sees it, and he is not alone as a Millenial to consider that the system is failing them. Teachers, administrators, and parents should listen carefully.

— Charles Fadel, co-author of 21st Century Skills – Learning for Life in our Times and founder, Center for Curriculum Redesign

This book is a clear-eyed view of the education crisis from a source we usually never get to hear from — a student who’s actually on the frontlines. Nikhil Goyal’s book takes the reader inside today’s schools to reveal what’s going wrong, and how we might design a better model. It’s a real eye-opener, and an inspiring manifesto for change.

— Warren Berger, author of Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life, Your Business, and Maybe Even the World

While a first book might appear early to proclaim Nikhil Goyal an emerging voice of his generation, it’s not an overstatement to say that he is. From the eyes of a student, a consumer of education, and am emerging critic of a shattered education system, Goyal’s voice will resonate across literal and figurative borders. This book is a great read for those who want to wade through what education should haver been yet perhaps never was.

— Aron Solomon, Founder of Smartswise and former CEO of THINK Global School

Nikhil Goyal is a smart and ambitious young man with plenty of great insights to share. You should definitely check out his new book!

— Steve Strauss, Senior USA TODAY Small Business columnist

In our ongoing debates about educational policy, among the voices rarely included are those of students. As this remarkable book by Nikhil Goyal demonstrates, our students are capable of addressing what they want and need from our public schools.  You may not agree with all of what Goyal writes — I did not. But you will find this book perceptive, thoughtful and more than a little persuasive. Those involved with the making of educational policy would be well advised to read and ponder what he has written.

— Kenneth J. Bernstein, 2010 Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher and  nationally known blogger (“teacherken”) on education

We hear a great deal from educators, politicians, and parents about the shortcomings of the American education system today. We’re told that these are the key stakeholders, but the largest stakeholders are the students themselves. With One Size Does Not Fit AllNikhil Goyal gives the students a voice, and it’s a voice backed by a far greater amount of research and insight than we typically see in discussions regarding education.

— Richard Rusczyk, founder of the Art of Problem Solving

One Size Does Not Fit All is thoughtful, extremely well-researched, and poignant look into one of the most important topics of our generation. Nikhil Goyal’s fearless curiosity, his laser focus on this generation’s future prospects, combined with his meticulous research make this book a must-read for parents, educators, employers, and students. It will make you think, and as a parent, it will change the way you see your child’s education.

— Tony Chen, Founder/CEO of Savvy Daddy and Co-Founder of MOVEMENT121

Maybe it will take a 17 year old, someone who has recently lived and breathed the American education system from the user end, to finally grab the attention of the policymakers who continue their joyless folly of standardizing and mechanizing the teaching/learning process in our schools. Nikhil Goyal asks us all to see education as an emancipatory process, one that frees the individual to be creative, innovative and daring, exceeding pre-determined limits imposed by an oppressive bureaucracy of rules and compliance. No less than the souls of our youngsters and the future of our nation are at stake.  We would do well to listen carefully to the wisdom found in One Size Does Not Fit All.

— Arnold Dodge, Chair, Educational Leadership and Administration Department Assistant Professor of Education at Long Island University

Nikhil Goyal is remarkable among young people: he cares deeply about education. But he does more than care.  He is moved to think, research, and write about the huge problems besetting American education. His work demands our attention. The future of American education will inevitably be the future of America itself.

— Paul Von Blum, Senior Lecturer in African American Studies and Communication Studies at UCLA

Like democracy, public education is reserved only for those willing to fight for it. What if more 17-year-olds fought as hard as Nikhil Goyal?

— Joe Bower, author of the popular, “For the Love of Learning” blog and teacher at a local hospital in Alberta, Canada

Traditional education is a product of the age of empires and the industrial age. Aristotle’s school produced Alexander in Greece, Chanakya’s school in India produced Chandragupta who drove Alexander’s generals away. The Victorians created a schooling system to run their Empire, a system that would produce identical people. The captains of the Industrial age adopted it happily — to produce assembly line workers. But the empires have gone and the manufacturing is going from the West. The products of the victorian schooling system are obsolete, as it the system itself. What shall we do? Read Nikhil Goyal’s book…

— Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, UK