The Path to Teaching: Going Into The Margins

What are our roles as the teacher in the classroom? To lecture them about the curriculum? Making sure that they’re seated in their rows, not talking to their friends, and taking notes of your lecture?

The answer should definitely be a “no”. Lectures are definitely an inevitable part of the classroom but we should strive to bring the students out into the margins. So where are the margins? How do we to bring our students into the margins? What do margins look like?

Just like a sheet of paper, margins cannot exist without a “center”. A “center” in the classroom can be seen as:

  • Teacher-led instruction
  • Emphasis on quantity over quality of information
  • Pure memorization and regurgitation of facts
  • Monoculture: everything is homogeneous
  • Students are expected to uphold the same type of behavior
  • Disengagement of students

In order to engage the students and spark their curiosity, it is vital to bring them out into the margins. Margins are all about engaging the students into the wonders of science, exciting them about how it relates to their life and exploring into the possibilities that extend out to the edge of the curriculum. It definitely has the component of a risk, but it allows for the potential for an endeavor into the fun aspects of science.

Bringing My Students into The Margins

Here are some ways I am planning to bring my students out into the margins:

  • Exploring current events: Everything is related to Science. Talk about how issues that are happening around them can relate to the subject.
  • Expanding on questions: Stop when a student asks a question and expand on the topic and how it relates to the subject – it is what they are interested in knowing!
  • Be willing to take risks: Bring them on field trips, explore the neighborhood, make them FEEL and SEE science.
  • Project Fairs: Create their own projects of the subject – be it writing a song, making a model or designing an experiment – explore the subject in your own ways and share!
  • Build a community: Making students feel like they are a part of the learning community and that their ideas are an essential part of the classroom.
  • Not be afraid to say “I don’t know”: instead, find out together. Explore, and learn together.

But don’t confuse margins with “teachable moments”. They might seem similar but are vastly different.

Teachable Moments & The Margins

Teachable moments and going into the margins are both helpful in student’s learning. Teachable moments, too, can lead the students into the margins. However, they are just “moments“.

It is important to remember that as educators, our purpose is not to solely focus on the curriculum and studying different ways to teach them. We should focus harder on how it can impact students. Help your students to feel like they are real scientists! Inspire your students!

Here’s a quote from the TED talk:

What the kids are going to remember most of all, is you.


  1. Great post!

    In your list you mentioned that encouraging students to say “I don’t know” when they need to. What kind of practices do you think will work best in your classroom to make it a safe and comfortable space for all your students so that honesty like that can shine? really liked the Ted Talk as well!

    • Thank you! I think in order to create a classroom environment where students feel comfortable to talk, I will enforce the idea of respect for others so that they don’t feel scared or embarrassed to make mistakes. I will use practices such as asking more questions, embracing risk-taking and different methods in approaching the questions. I think it is important to not focus on the answers but rather encourage students to use various strategies to tackle the question and emphasize the learning that can happen through that process.

  2. Hi Woojin! Nice post! I really enjoyed reading your ideas about how you will bring your classroom into the margins, especially the part about building a community because I think that is so important to education! In the Ted Talk, the speaker talked about giving his student choices in the classroom. Is this idea of giving students choices in their education important to you and in what ways will you implement choices into your classroom?

    • Thank you! I definitely think that giving choices to the students in their education is important in my classroom. I plan to implement choices in my classroom by allowing the students to choose the type of assessment they want to use, the choice of working in groups or individuals, the topic they want to research on, and hopefully I can give the students the choice to choose what kind of lessons they would like (discussions, debates, lecture) and the sequence of the curriculum.

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