Do You Teach at Hogwarts?

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This afternoon ABC Family Channel is showing a marathon of all of the Harry Potter movies as part of their 25 Days of Christmas.  As I have been watching these movies in between doing Saturday afternoon chores, I’m reminded of the first time I read each of these books and sat in a theater comparing Rowling’s written word to the cinematographer’s interpretation.  No matter whether it was in the book or on the big screen, I’ve always been jealous of the students and teachers at Hogwarts.  They seem so engaged and in love with what they are doing.  While the students are still in many ways typical adolescents, they appear to understand and believe in the purpose  for learning and mastering the content in each of their classes.  Meanwhile, the teachers and administrator view their roles not as individuals who have to prep students for a final exam, counting down the days or hours until summer vacation, but as masters who are apprenticing students.

For the past few years I have felt like we have sort of lost our way when it comes to K-12 education.  In this sense, “we” doesn’t just refer to teachers, administrators, and students, but the the community at large.  Somewhere along the way we starting seeing our schools as giant factories, taking in materials, spitting out widgets, and measuring our success with an annual clinical exam that only measured on small factor.  I have to admit, I think I became part of that “we” for a little while, thinking that if I just found the right curriculum, quizzed my kids enough, and somehow commanded them to do their homework every night that all of my widgets would turn out perfectly.  Thank goodness that through texts, professional learning, and relationships with smart, innovative, passionate educators I realized that my kids are in fact not widgets.  Rather than “teaching” students, I am actually “apprenticing” them to become scientists, historians, mathematicians, writers, musicians, and (most importantly)…life long learners.

So now I find myself sitting here watching Harry Potter and wondering what I can learn from Professors McGonagall, Dumbeldore, and Snape to shape my own teaching and learning.  How does the teaching and learning these characters demonstrate align with the principles of balanced and disciplinary literacy?  How are they helping their students read, write, speak, and think as magicians as I try to help my students read, write, speak, and think as scientists?

Joe

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