The Problem with Rock Tumblers

The “system” means well, but it’s slowly asphyxiating the future of education.

So says high-school dropout (and former dot com multimillionaire) Tod Maffin. In this provocative keynote address, Tod identifies the primary ways the education system is taking the “rough stones” of learners and tries to grind and polish their way to education — while actually scraping away the culture and uniqueness the learners bring.

Tod’s five steps to repairing this damage will get your conference delegates talking weeks after the address.

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“Tod Maffin likens today’s education system to rock tumblers. Students are tossed in for 12 years and told what to learn and how to learn with a government mandated curriculum. Those who learn in different ways or don’t conform are labelled failures.

“By government standards, I am, statistically speaking, a failure of the system,” said Maffin, who grew frustrated by being unable to study what interested him in high school. He said he dropped out. In his late teens, Maffin learned about the world on his own in local libraries and later graduated from university. He later launched his own multimillion-dollar tech firm — which became a casualty of the bust — and spearheaded a successful broadcasting career.

“We are scraping away the real stone, the shape and the texture [of the student]. We have students who are crying out knowing what they want to do, and we need to do a better job at serving them,” Maffin said. At a breakfast session, Maffin asked teachers to step away from generic curriculum and engage students in what they are interested in. He wants kids to regain the joy of learning by having more educational play activities as well as the time and the tools needed to explore subjects on their own.

— Calgary Herald, February 15, 2008