The Separation of Margins

What are Margins?

Margins can be thought of as a complex spectrum style of learning that students sway into over the course of a lesson. It’s a naturally derived method that can be considered an important component of teaching and learning. Margins deter from the central structure of a classroom and allow for a more personal style of learning. These moments flourish on interactions between students and their teacher. It opens up the gate for true exploration of a topic or the scientific process.

Margins are thought to be negative because…

  • They are thought to be a distraction from whats important to students
  • They do not relate to course content and therefore not neccesary
  • They are out of hand since the focus deters from the teachers instruction

The Truth of the Matter is that…

… this is far from the truth. These “distractions” are not true distractions but student-driven discussions relating to material relevant to them. This drives personal debate and questioning that the students are truly interested in. The thought that margins differ from the course content is considered true, it’s moments like this that students defer from the autonomic thinking pattern and experience pure curiosity and reasoning.

Even though it might be easy to brush off marginal learning as something irrelevant to the classroom, it provides many beneficial functions for students’ educational experience.

A Different Perspective

Here I embedded a video concerning how we can learn from the margins and grow as educators. I feel that throughout our career we continue to grow and become better and better not only for ourselves but for the students who we impact on a daily basis.

Margins Vs Teachable Moments

Margins relate to more of the environment that the students are in over the experiences they have. Margins is a bigger concept than what teachable moments hold. Margins allow for student freedom in the learning process and don’t focus on the teacher setting up the perfect moment for teaching. This is the beautiful thing about margins.


How Can I Incorporate Margins in My Classroom?

Here are a few tips to incorporate margins into your classroom…

  • Embrance uncharted territory – be willing to go into zones that are not planned out in the lesson. This allows for the potential of inquiry-based learning from the students, as well as the teacher!
  • Focus on students ability to control their own learning- Let go off being the center of attention in the learning process. Give your students the ability to control the outcome of their learning experiences. This will encourage curiosty and scientfiic thought process out of your students.
  • Ask Questions and Engage Students – this allows for students to deter from the center and merge into those margins. This sets up your class to embrace marginal learning and provides a personal approach to your students learning.


  1. Hey Steven,

    I like how you used the point of negative thinking that might go along with teachers who hear about or consider teaching in the margins. I had not considered that some teachers might feel that way in this day and age, so it was really good to see you argue against that point. I liked how you added the picture of the clownfish because it is kind of like teaching in the margins. If it stays in the anemone it will be safe, but if it stays there it will die. It has to leave in order to find food and it will not thrive without leaving. What would you say to a fellow teacher that is unsure about teaching in the margins?

  2. Hey Rachel,
    Thank you for taking the time to give feedback on my post. I think that the points you brought up are very interesting and give a different perspective on my post. I think that what you said about implementing this type of learning in a science classroom is very crucial. I think this is the only way to promote true inquiry-based learning since it’s based on curiosity which is the backbone of the scientific field. I could explore marginal learning in the biology classroom by allowing students ran projects which would allow them to present a certain topic through the means that best suit them. Whether this is through a data presentation or artwork it’s up to them. Another way I feel I could incorporate this style of learning is by going off-topic on how biology relates to real-world applications. Let the students find different ways that biology impact them on a daily basis. I feel this would get students excited to learn because it could be more personal for them.

  3. Hey Grace,
    Thank you for the honest feedback and I am glad you enjoyed reading it. I think that it’s important that we can acknowledge when we are in the center and when we are in the margins of learning. The more self-aware we become as educators the easier it will be for us to learn and grow. I personally did not hold any of these misconceptions about margins. I feel that marginal learning is crucial for student’s personal development. I had a teacher that allowed for this type of learning and I think I gained so much from this class. Not just through my education but about myself and who I was as a person with my interest. This is why I feel that marginal learning is so important in the classroom.

  4. Hey Steven!
    I thought it was so interesting that you brought up why margins are assumed to be a negative concept, especially because it goes against the more traditional forms of instruction, and then countered that with explaining what margins were and their importance in the classroom. I also liked your point about embracing uncharted territory and I agree, primarily because going into unplanned spaces in the classroom can feel scary, but it would be worthwhile for the sake of student learning! I feel like going to the margins is especially important to implement in science subjects. In what ways do you think you could explore the margins in a biology-specific classroom?

  5. Hi Steven!
    One of my favorite things you said was that to go into the margins, you need to give your students the ability to control the outcome of their learning experiences. This is a great point that I hadn’t thought a lot about before- I think teachers sometimes stay in the center because they want to control everything that their students learn, as well as how they learn it. However, going into the margins allows for students to be held accountable, as well as allows them to follow their interests. Did you or do you subscribe to any of those commonly held misconceptions about the margins? Why or why not?

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