headshot2019.jpgThis 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 advises: “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)”

In my writing, I try to reach for those moments when I don’t know, when I run up against my own failings or when I’m inspired by the people I work with.  There are plenty of all three. I’ve been influenced in my work by the preschools and early childhood centres of Reggio Emilia, by my colleagues and the children in my schools, by the time I spent at Bennington College, and by my on-going love affair with dance.

I’m lucky to be a school administrator and educator in beautiful Northern Ontario. I also write for BAM Radio Network, Kveller, and the Canadian Jewish News.

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


12 thoughts on “About

  1. 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. 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.

  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. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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”.

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