About

Welcome to teachingontheverge!

headshot 2015

This blog is inspired by a piece called ‘Singing Lessons: A Hidden Pedagogy” by Katherine Smithrim.  In it she writes that:

One of [her] favourite aphorisms about teaching comes from the
Canadian composer and music educator, Murray Schafer, who says
“Teach on the verge of peril.”

“Over the years I have been building the courage to do that. To me, teaching on the verge of peril means letting go of being in control. It means trusting that the subject itself will engage us and draw us towards learning. It means asking students what they most want to learn, what their biggest questions are, and then changing my course plans, if need be, to honour their interests and needs. It means speaking my mind about political issues. It means continually taking risks, going into class with questions rather than answers, and being willing to say “I haven’t thought about that,” or “I don’t know. Who could help us?” It means fending off the inner voices which say “You’re not TEACHING enough; you don’t know enough about this.” (Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, Volume 1 Number 2 Fall 2003, p. 53-62)”

I’ve been inspired in my work by the preschools and early childhood centres of Reggio Emilia, by my colleagues and the children in my classes, by the time I spent at Bennington College, and by my on-going love affair with the Arts.

I’m lucky to be an Arts educator and leader in Northern Ontario. I work with a great team of educators!

Please leave a comment, I can’t wait to read your thoughts!

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi there,
    We are a group of 3 teachers who are working on documentation and inquiry based learning in the classroom and we were hoping to connect with you. Please e-mail!

    Thanks! Looking forward to hearing from you.

  2. Caralyn says:

    Hello,
    Thanks for your inspiring blog! I’m a 25-yr. experienced educator who is also finding delight in ‘letting go’ of control through the Reggio-inspired approach and following the lead of my Grade 2 students. They truly are teaching me! I look forward to more of your thought-provoking entries.

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying both the letting go and the blog! Thanks so much for reading!

  3. Hello Emily,
    I think your work with children is truly inspiring! I discovered you through a wonderful video on the CODE website called Body, Movement and Space. I’m a recent graduate of OCAD University where I developed SOMO, a wearable, motion tracking device that turns body movement into music. My colleagues and I are developing it as an education tool to help deliver the Ontario Dance Curriculum and as tool for arts educators in general. I realize that you are in Sudbury and I’m in Toronto but I would love to get your feedback on what we are trying to do. I’m also looking for innovative educators like yourself who are interested in working with us as a collaborators. My website is http://www.sonicwear.ca where you can view an informational video and have a peak around the site for more information.

  4. jlfatgcs says:

    I have nominated you for the Spirit Animal Blog Award. Go to https://jenniefitzkee.com

  5. Hi Emily, I would love to interview you for an article I’m writing for Redbook magazine! It’s about direct sales and how the business impacts friendships on both sides (buyers and sellers). I read your excellent blog on that topic from earlier this year, and I’d really like to get your perspective. I hope you see this comment soon and are willing to chat on the phone, as I’m on a deadline! Thanks so much, Michelle Stacey mstacey314@gmail.com

  6. Emily Lewis says:

    Hi Emily,

    I was just watching your amazing video “Body Movement and Space” on the Teaching Channel for the fourth time (!) and have a few quick questions. Thanks so much!

    1. Hello! Glad to hear that video is still being used! Please feel free to email your questions to carusoe@rscloud.ca

  7. Meg says:

    Hi there,
    I’m a PhD student in Melbourne, Australia who is researching ways to work with teachers so they can use more arts in their classrooms – my professional history is as a music therapist and special educator and teacher educator. I’ve just read your article ‘spark more dancing’ and am excited to have stumbled upon this blog. I love the idea of ‘teaching on the verge’, and think that perhaps working with teachers to become more comfortable doing this is what I am really working towards, with the arts being a great avenue for this work. Anyway, looking forward to reading more. Meg 🙂

    1. Thanks very much Meg for your comment and for reading!
      Best of luck in your Doctoral work!
      Emily

  8. Johan says:

    I love this blog post. I first heard Murray Schafer’s “teach on the verge of peril” after having been a lecturer for many years. One of my colleagues, and a good friend, told me the quotation was the advice his father, who had been a piano teacher at the Royal College of Music in Manchester, gave him when he started out as lecturer. The thought hit me like a flash of lightning: In one sentence someone voiced what I had always been trying to do, often failing, or not knowing it was what I was trying to do, often with trepidation, but nevertheless: in that direction teaching and learing lie! I reflect on Schafer’s words with every start of term and encourage my students to also “learn on the verge of peril”.

    1. Thanks Johan! I’m so glad you found it meaningful too!

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