What can an octopus teach us about learning?
Kicking off the mid-afternoon session at Day 1 of IdeaFestival, Rafe Sagarin, a marine ecologist, congressional advisor and author talked about how nature's symbiosis has implications for human-made heirarchical structures (think government operations, or college syllabi). Octopuses have different "brains" in each tentacle, with sensory abilities.
Humans, Sagarin advises, should think about how to move away from the "central brain" system and think about how we can break down walls.
This idea has been echoed in educational communities -- it's now acknowledged that in-class time can be used most effectively by saving the lectures as homework and engaging students in "homework" with the class time. Kind of a reverse-teaching model.
Sagarin keeps a syllabus for his class, but only because it's required by the Dean. At the beginning of class, he tells students to tear it up.
"There's more risk that way," he says. But in the end, it's worth it.
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