A Sense of Themselves

Elizabeth Murray’s Leadership in School and Community

By Carol E. Harris  

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This vivid portrayal of the late Elizabeth (Betty) Murray recreates the life and times of one of Nova Scotia’s finest educators and community leaders, a does at the grassroots. It examines her activities as a highly innovative rural and urban teacher, as a liaison between Acadia University’s education students and their wider rural community, as a founding member of the provincial Adult Education division and, in retirement, as the author and director of a series of history plays with music about her village of Tatamagouche.

This is a portrait of the changing nature of community, from the traditional and rural model experienced as mid-century to the utilitarian and more urbanized society of today. The values that informed the work of Murray and her colleagues underscore contradictions inherent in contemporary claims of education and action, such as those surrounding wholistic learning, greater choice, advantages of parental involvement, and decentralized decision-making.

“Presents an excellent picture of pioneer and modern efforts in Nova Scotia’s adult education activities and, in the process, constitutes a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman”

— Herman Timmins, former Director of the Adult Education Division, N.S. Department of Education

“Thanks to Ms. Harris for her care in making Miss Murray live for those of us who care about women’s lives and community in Atlantic Canada.”

— reviewer

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  • Setting the Stage: An Introduction
  • To Catch the Shadows: The History Plays of Tatamagouche
  • Tarbet: A School and its Community at Mid-Century
  • Adult Education: A Movement at the Grass Roots
  • An Invitation to Attend
  • The Meaning of Community Arts
  • A Worthwhile Thing to Be Doing
  • Opening Spaces in the Imagination: As Assessment
  • Notes
  • References
  • Landmark Events in Betty Murray’s Life
  • People Interviewed
  • Index


  • Carol E. Harris

    University of Victoria

    Carol E. Harris was, for many years. an arts educator in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. She now teaches organizational theory and leadership studies at the University of Victoria.

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