The best school in the world

My end goal is and always will be to open the best school in the world. These schools will give kids the ability to reason for themselves; giving them tools to research many sources, take all opinions with a pinch of salt and come to their own understandings. 

Kids will be taught how to make things, and make things work for them. Computer languages, programming and assembly will be taught alongside traditional subjects like languages, maths, sciences, history and religious studies. Maturity and choice will be at the foreground of the teacher/student dynamic. 

Most dating profiles ask for people who have a GSOH (Good Sense of Humour). Yet this isn’t taught anywhere. So our solution: Mischief taught as a class in school, encouraging laughter and creativity. Maturity is built by discovering where the line is between good and bad humour. Kids understand for themselves when to apologise for a joke that comes out being offensive (to others).

Other less traditional subjects will be taught to plug current gaps of understanding, like law, mechanical and electrical engineering (why can’t kids take an engine apart and put it back together?!), just like in The Tinkering School. And School Stock Market - young entrepreneurs raising capital from their peers (limits on investment to safeguard risk).

Debating and accountability will feature highly.

The biggest flaw in current schools is the disregard for physical education in favour of academia. The mind and body go hand-in-hand, and this should be reflected in the school schedule.

The school day will start at 7:30am and lessons will end at 12:30pm (the same amount of academic time current school days incorporate).

Breaktime/playtime will be supplemented with amazing grounds, playgrounds, clubs and activities. After lunch, everyone will take a power nap/siesta! A nap is a right, not a privilege. 

The afternoon will then be dedicated to physical activity, honing amazing technical sporting skills. All the hours of practice that professional athletes and sportspeople need to excel will be as standard for ALL children, so that they are world-class at any and many different disciplines. The 10,000 hours of practice needed to be excellent at something will be for every child, as highlighted in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.

Healthy body = healthy mind. Sir Ken Robinson has the right idea. So good is his idea, that the RSA animated his talk.

The result is more in the school day, but a better balance of it, all due to an earlier start, with the school day ending at 6:30pm. Parents who work will never be at a disadvantage again. No need for special treatment as a result of needing to drop and pick up kids to and from school during work hours.

Parenting is in massive, robotic, ignorant crisis. Parents will also participate, so that the home environment is right. It is absurd that we know environment shapes kids, but neglect to get the home environment right. This is a whole other topic, but one that goes hand-in-hand with the best schooling possible.

Homework will be half and hour, and must involve the whole family to do. It’ll be the medium to inform parents what kids have been up to at school. Homework will no longer be a burden to children and their families.

And last but not least hire the right people. While the government forces the young and inexperienced to teach, the real value comes from recycling acquired knowledge. Help train people with real life experience to teach. That way we don’t lose all the intricate things people have learnt through their lives (the key would be to bring parents in for regular sessions on what unique knowledge they have acquired). The Amazings helps older people transfer their knowledge and skills to the next generation. We salute them!

By giving people the ability to reason and understand the world for themselves, society will never be prone to having stereotyped drone populations such as “Daily Mail readers” and blind allegiance to party politics will break down.

Another hope of providing the best schooling in the world is university places will be cut, to focus again on quality lecturing and research, rather than the current dumbing-down culture of giving everyone a piece of paper that is increasingly worth less and less (funny that money and education both have that in common - gold standard anyone?). Too many degrees devalues the achievements of those with good degrees. Education is about skills, knowledge and applicable maturity. Today, education is about collecting certificates and letters.

Industry and employers need to take the lead by better recruiting; i.e. not focusing on minimum requirements that underpin this race to the top of paper-collection.

Children and decision making

I (used to) coach a kids football team. They are great kids, with lots of heart and a real love of football.

However we often find ourselves in situations where they are afraid to make decisions.

Even after talking through or even demonstrating that it is OK to make mistakes, they still are afraid of making decisions/taking risks.

For me, this is a massive challenge: If I can successfully persuade these kids that taking a chance one way or the other is a good thing, their overall performance on the pitch will be so much better.

And that is what makes it so interesting. It isn’t about teaching them a physical skill; the problem is behavioural.

This links directly into what all my work is about: trying to influence behavioural change from norms that do not benefit people to a new approach that will increase their happiness.

Here is an email I sent to parents:

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3% flat tax to replace NI, IT, CGT and CT

So the government has problems with setting tax levels (and collecting tax).

People have problems with tax being too high rate/unfair.

And few journalists have any clue to be able to challenge George Osborne, and all the main political parties, on his/their rather clueless policies (exception: @allisterheath of CityAM)

So here is my solution:

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Instant - copy and paste done right (like Pult)

For the longest time, I have wanted to pass something from my screen to another.

A start-up, Pult, has come up with a great concept to allow screen sharing. Essentially, both screens are paired over the internet with a randomly generated 4 digit code.

How about taking this one step further, for sending files.

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Tood - twitter mood selector

Twitter mood selector

Changes avatar/profile-photo to be happy, sad, orgasmic, frustrated, etc

Simple interface with a few ‘moods’ and the ability to associate them with a photo (either from the web or uploaded from phone/pc)

Make every website beautiful

I am learning to code. 

When asked why I want to learn, my answer was simple and instinctive:

"The web is ugly. I want to show people what it should look like."

So we are now coming to build our own projects, and this is what I came up with, on the fly:

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Rethinking File Syncing

Dropbox and Google Drive have it wrong.

Your files should be anywhere (referenced) and are synced when accessed/changed by applications.

That way you catch all, and keep truly in sync.

Also can interface better with web and desktop.

Google Docs would be so much more ‘normal’ as a result with files as well as web editing.

Tech should work around us, not the other way around. Well done Dropbox for showing us the way, but now let’s get it right and truly integrate with applications and the web, for file/data syncing.

Interview of me in Feb 2006

I was Vice President of my Students’ Union (at the University of Westminster)

Interview of Rayhan by Sarah Lefley

1. Do you enjoy your job?


I love my job. It’s like a soap opera here. Plus if I was so inclined, the contacts I make and the prestige would be invaluable for any future career…but as my future career will involve being pampered on the most beautiful beaches on Earth, I’m happy to not pursue my own gain from the job…which contributes to me enjoying it more.

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Recycling at every waste facility

All household waste should be sorted and recycled.

Free to those households who sort, charge to those who do not.

Checks on household sorting efficiency, warnings issued with specifics of bad sorting, to better educate populace.

Government owned facilities upgraded as experiment and guidelines issued to private sector service providers.

Quality assurance as part of annual tender.

Start-ups encouraged to innovate with waste/recycling operations, business model and technology.

Prevention of Automatic Theft Law (proposal)

Consumers often have to chase charges they have not authorised. This is not just; there should be consumer protections in place

A law that sets out clear process and remedy when a consumer feels they are charged something they do not owe

Consumer submits amount and retailer/business name (web-based service)

Service sends business an e-mail asking for justification for charge

If charge unjust, business to refund 3 times amount to consumer, through the protection service

Service has bailiffs on call to speedily recover funds

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Solving the UK’s tax problem

The UK has too much inequality. We have all read the newspaper articles quoting statistics that most of all the UK’s wealth is held by so few of the population, whilst for normal people rents have increased disproportionately over income.

Tax is that necessary evil that allows us to fairly govern and is often used as a means of maintaining a much fairer wealth distribution. Current UK taxes focus on taxing profits. That means big companies can fiddle their accounts to report less profits than individuals on PAYE, who spend money and truly stimulate the economy.

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What happened to the art of journalism?

The British press and media are either malicious, ignorant, lazy or a combination of all three.

I’ll explain why.

We are currently experiencing less prosperous times. But people aren’t suffering more than normal, as there are many institutions in place to help those who are destitute.

You would be forgiven for thinking that we are in dire straits because that is exactly the picture the often overly negative media portray.

It’s just not true.

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Giving the UK economy a boost

Two solutions, one long term, one more immediate, to stimulate the UK economy.

Educate kids to reason for themselves. The current primary and secondary education provided in the UK is embarrassing. How can so many children, in a socialist state, waste all that time in formal schools and yet not have acceptable levels of numeracy and literacy?

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