Commentary | I am at wit’s end: no more Cornett titles can be found

Re: “Paging Doctor Cornett” | Commentary | October 8

I’m hoping that the National Film Board of Canada can clarify Norman Cornett’s open-minded approach to learning. Granted that his approach is fundamentally different from the archaic style of teaching that we’re accustomed to, Cornett successfully made students enjoy school – a seemingly impossible task.  
So few have the opportunity to experience such a classroom in an otherwise dog-eat-dog academic setting. North Americans regard school as a monotonous and methodical duty. We have sacrificed thinking for good marks. It has become a test of who can absorb and regurgitate as effectively as possible. Instead of learning together, we are constantly tested against each other. This is breeding insecurity and an aggressive nature amongst ourselves. Ideally, a classroom should bring out the best in everyone and not only select for “the best.” It should be captivating, insightful, and produce confident and motivated young minds. 
Such is the case with Cornett’s classes. There is a level of communication, expression and of respectful dialogue that builds so much confidence. Even the most timid and discrete students could anonymously unleash their deepest thoughts – in public!  It is a priceless technique to learn a tremendous amount about oneself and others. All the while, he engages in open discussion about such essential issues as sustainable development of Canada’s natural resources and habitats, not to mention special appearances and dialogue with prominent figures like Lucien Bouchard. 
At a time when the world is questioning North American academic standards, when other countries are producing statistically higher achieving students, and our very city (Montreal) is questioning such foundations as homework in elementary school, how can we disregard Cornett’s admirable attempt to challenge the formal structure of school and place a creative learning experience as the priority?  

Riccardo Pietro Ricciardi
M.Sc.


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