On October 7th, 2019 I had the chance to attend the Dialogic workshop hosted by Professor Norman Cornet.
For 32 years, Professor Norman has been teaching the dialogic approach, a learning method he invented. The theology teacher believes that higher education should be revised and brought back to its roots of a dialogue rather than a monologue. This way everyone is an active listener and there is a different approach to the teacher-student relationship. This method reaches to the core of the self and the spirit of humanity. He believes we are all on a spirit quest and that artists use art and creativity as an expression of the spirit quest.
At this workshop, he teamed up with Rawi Hage, a Lebanese-born and critically-acclaimed Canadian author as they went through snippets of his book Beirut Hellfire Society. The title deals with the Civil War of Lebanon in the 70s-80s and its fractured society.
The methodology of the dialogic method begins with the teacher assigning a text or snippet of an article to students. After reading the text, the student and teacher will all write one word that reflects their feelings on what they just read, then a sentence, then a paragraph, then an unfiltered and conscious ramble of their overall opinion. On top of it all, the writings are all done anonymously to get the most honest and creative responses from those who participate. Afterwards the class goes through every single response as they read them out as a group. In this instance, both Rawi Hage and the listeners got to riff on what was stated by anonymous participators. This method allows for unfiltered discussion on topics and actively invests all of those who participate.
Overall, I thought the workshop was really interesting and I would be fascinated if more teachers started incorporating the dialogic method into their courses.
Originally Published in Bandersnatch Vol.49 Issue 07 on December 4th, 2019