We're back from running our first-ever rationality workshop in Boston. (Well, actually, a rustic retreat in Harvard, MA, about 50 minutes outside of Boston).
We usually try a few new things each time we run a workshop, while keeping most of our tried-and-true features constant. This workshop was no exception. For one, we had an unprecedentedly large cohort of participants: 38 instead of our typical 25, which seemed to work pretty well even though the classes were bigger than average.
But one of the most pleasantly surprising experiments this time around was our Day of Tutoring. Basically, we've come to suspect that the way people really learn a new idea -- and the way we internalize that idea, to a degree that will shift our behavior -- is to teach it to someone else.
So we spent half of Saturday having the participants tutor each other in the material from Thursday and Friday, in a chaotic-but-fun rotating wheel of tutor-pupil pairs. Throughout the exercise I overheard people noticing things they didn't understand about the classes while trying to explain them; thinking up real life examples and applications; and putting our ideas in their own words, all in a high-bandwidth way that I haven't really seen occur within the context of a traditional "teacher lecturing students" class before. (And nearly everyone rated the tutoring process as useful, after the fact -- a higher approval rate than any of our standard classes.)
We'll certainly be experimenting with more ways to help people learn by teaching. And in the meantime, why don't you try it at home? Teach someone something today, and let us know what you learn.