Embracing the Liminal: A Taxonomy

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While designing a taxonomy that encapsulates my learning during my EDFD459 journey and has the longevity to extend beyond the unit of study, I came to the (sobering) conclusion that I tend to resist the liminal space.

Whether it be acquiring new skills (e.g. in technology), facing social issues which are overwhelming in complexity and severity (such as the refugee crisis), or tackling a project (such as a current assignment), I need to develop a strategy for embracing the liminal. Below is a visual representation of my new paradigm of thinking:


ACKNOWLEDGE the liminal

As mentioned in this post, the liminal space takes you out of your comfort zone and into a place of uncertainty. This can be a rather daunting space to occupy, but it is an extremely rich, necessary and desirable space to inhabit; to avoid it is not an option if one wants to grow, develop and change.

Recently I have been researching the global refugee crisis. I am appalled and saddened by the plight of so many; their stories are piercing my heart and arresting my thoughts. It is an issue that simply cannot be ignored – their situation needs to be addressed and as educators, it is our social responsibility and obligation to do what we can. To acknowledge their precarious situation in the liminal space is the first step towards change.

On a more personal level, I also need to acknowledge my deficits and areas of liminality as a teacher and begin to work simultaneously on those areas as well. For me, one blatantly obvious area is my lack of digital dexterity and technological knowledge.

DECIDE to change

Deciding to change is crucial. Not only does it need to be a decision made at a single point in time, but it also needs to be a daily (perhaps hourly) decision until embracing the liminal becomes a way of living. The power of a single person’s decision always amazes me. Deciding to change not only impacts the course of your own life, but also has a ripple effect to all those around you – your family, your friends, and even your students. If the ripple is large enough (as in the case of great men like Martin Luther King Jnr), it can even change history!

ADJUST your perspective

One of my peers, Jolene Mitchell (@JoMitchell4974) made an interesting statement on a forum which really resonated with me:


This idea was furthered by reading a post written by Kristin Bell entitled The Power of Yet and exhortations by @KayriShanahan on a forum (LEO, Oct. 12, 2016) to transfer statements such “I can’t do this” to “I can’t do this, YET”. A simple change in perspective can alter the formidable to the possible.

BEGIN to move forward

The best way to address anything which is daunting is to begin taking forward steps. Michael Hyatt in his post What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do gives some excellent advice in this regard. He encourages those caught in the liminal that it is sometimes best to forget about the ultimate outcome, and instead focus on the next right action, and begin implementing it right away. It is often when we are actually on the journey that clarity is gained.

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AVOID perfectionism

Perfectionism has always been my Achilles. I tend to get caught up in the details; I prefer to have a solid grasp on concepts or understandings before I move forward. In real life and the realm of the liminal, this is often not feasible or productive. My stance of perfectionism was also challenged with this quote:


Along a similar vein, this quote also impacted me greatly:

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ENTER a new personal space

Perseverance through the liminal, although trying and unnerving, has wonderful rewards. On a personal level, it launches one into a new personal learning space. The sense of achievement and self-satisfaction can be a reward within itself.

On a professional level, embracing the liminal could almost be said to be mandatory:


Tweeted by @justintarte

On a more global perspective, traversing through the liminal space and approaching and addressing a social issue such as the refugee crisis can perhaps culminate in life-changing results for global citizens living on the other side of the world.

Embracing the liminal is not an option – it’s a necessity!


Tweeted by @KayriShanahan


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