Business and Finance

Interview: Social scientist, Iqbal Latif

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We featured various topics discussed with social scientist, Iqbar Latif, ranging from the importance of education; Africa’s problems; key to success; knowledge and empowerment. He is the proprietor of London-based Battersea luxury 5-star eco hotel, Rafayel.

His arrival in the UK, 29 years ago, was an investment move. While working in Kuwait, he saw UK strategically placed as the forefront of prime property investment in the western world.

In this first instalment, we feature the exciting beginnings, when 20 years ago, he and his wife made the decision not to put their children through conventional schooling, despite tremendous pressure and almost universal condemnation.  20 years later, their success is overwhelming!

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I qbar touches on the importance of childhood and the influence it has later in life, “Not every child is born a genius; nor do I feel my children were either.” This story has a happy ending and their three sons lead happy, well-adjusted lives in investment banking and private equity. Their story was covered in the nation press where the enduring tagline was ‘It all began with algebra on a train and during stock market games at home.’  Iqbar elaborated, “They weren’t wrong—it was teaching our sons math during a train journey that showed us the burning potential to learn what young minds have.  The key lesson we took on board from our experience is that “Creativity is as important as is Literacy.” (The standard definition of creativity is: ‘having original ideas that have value.’)

My wife and I learned that the national curriculum is an arbitrary standard by which to measure a child’s progress, whereas the classical Greek conception of schools were that wherever possible they would be cultivating and deepening young minds. Unfortunately modern day parents simply “outsource” their children’s education to schools—without further thought—negating the original idea.

Our unconventional thoughts are long dormant; my sons are grown up and I’m now a grandfather. However, my personal heresies on education were reconfirmed by two excellent TED online lectures.

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, and ‘Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers’ happily justified my decision taken nearly two decades ago. Both gentlemen make the point that society must do more to encourage the cultivation of talent and inspire imagination in our young.

The rigorous repetitive and standardised curriculum that we judge and measure them by is a crime committed under the banner of ‘Organised Education” and “Academic Excellence’. These false gods spur on academic inflation, further reducing the credibility of the education system.

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