Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

"A Piece of Good News": Teaching as a Creative Process

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

"A Piece of Good News": Teaching as a Creative Process

Article excerpt

CPA Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in Education and Training (1998) -- Prix de la SCP pour contribution remarquable a l'education et la formation en psychologie (1998)

Abstract. Teaching, clinical supervision, thesis direction all involve a creative process. This process is the foundation which provides the student with the conceptual framework required for the development of a mature identity as a psychologist. The theories of Piaget, Erikson, Freud, Mailloux, Barron, among others, underlie the process I have developed over the years. A well-conceptualized structure enables the student to become actively responsible for making that learning a formative, stimulating experience. As the process unfolds, the student becomes aware of the potential for a creative approach in all aspects of the development of an identity, regardless of the academic or professional orientation which has been chosen. The role of the teacher and the student varies over time as the student exercises an ever greater degree of professional and scientific autonomy. If the process is truly creative, the completion of the doctorate is significantly enhanced. The philosophical principles and values of this approach for teaching and training, along with examples of the impact on students' personal and professional development, will form the substance of this presentation.

It is a great honour and rare privilege to be here today. Since learning about the award, I have spent time reflecting on the meaning of it for me, and have asked the question: What is it I do as a teacher and a supervisor and how do I do it? It was time, finally, to put down on paper what I believe are the essential principles which provide the foundation of my career as a professor of psychology.


I was privileged in my own academic formation to have been exposed to true mentors, gifted professors, researchers, and clinicians who shared their passion for knowledge, their commitment to psychology in all its facets, and for their openness to a wide range of theoretical positions without rigid defensiveness. Current literature on effective teaching cites the importance of having had a charismatic teacher as a predominant influence: I was privileged to have had more than one. I am indebted and believe it is important to render homage to them at the beginning of this presentation.

The first and probably the most significant influence was that of Pere Noel Mailloux, founder of the Psychology Department at the University of Montreal, and teacher for many years. He provided the philosophical basis of psychology, believed that it is not the immensity of a professor's information which is important, but, rather, promptness in using it to raise new questions. Mailloux wrote often of the dire consequences of isolating research from teaching, always emphasizing their interdependence. He introduced us to psychoanalytic theory and dared to state that Sigmund Freud repaired the cartesian dichotomy by introducing the unconscious into human functioning. He was indeed a charismatic teacher of incredible intellectual creativity. I also want to pay tribute to Monique Laurendeau, Adrien Pinard, and Therese Gouin-Decarie, researchers and friends of jean Piaget, who, through courses, seminars and research, made the basic premises of the theory comprehensible, i.e., organization is inseparable from adaptation cognitive development is a continuous process of internal renovation and progress.

David Belanger provided the historical context within which psychology developed, and made us aware of the necessity for sound, scientific research. Gabriel Clerk and Andre Lussier, exemplary clinicians, teachers and psychoanalysts, challenged us and made us sensitive to the underlying values and ethical issues of clinical work. Being trained in both the experimental and clinical areas by gifted professors such as these was a unique privilege.

Finally, the contributions of Erik H. …

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