I sat in on a few of Norman Cornett’s dialogic sessions a few years ago. I left deeply impressed and wishing I had had the privilege of having classes such as these when I was a student at McGill in the 60s. Cornett was providing a safe space for these students to dig deeply into themselves for their authentic responses and ideas. They were being encouraged to think for themselves rather than mold their thoughts according to what was expected of them. This was an invitation to authentic and creative thinking.
I was shocked to learn, subsequently, that this enormously creative and gifted educator was fired from McGill, and furthermore, with no explanation, and at such short notice. I simply cannot understand how the administrators at a major university such as McGill were able to behave in such a cowardly and unethical manner. What a loss for McGill students.
In the meantime, I have been following Cornett’s private seminars ever since I first discovered them almost a year ago, and they have enriched my life immeasurably. I have also witnessed colleagues in these classes develop their creativity to a remarkable degree.
If what Cornett offered to McGill students is not education in its essence, then what is? Perhaps McGill University administrators would rather turn out graduates who do not think for themselves.