‘Harry Potter captures the magic of teaching’

I never expected to love Harry Potter. I’d wrinkled my nose at Father Christmas turning up in CS Lewis’ Narnia, because I wanted fantasy novels to be serious and epic like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and the original book-cover illustrations suggested that Potter was anything but. At the turn of the millennium though, my university put Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone on my undergraduate reading list. I picked it up just before the Christmas break, read it in one sitting, and went straight back to the tiny campus book shop to buy the other three that had been published at that point. Andrew Otty leads 16-19 English in an FE college and writes in Tes.

A few weeks ago, I led a reward trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. On arrival, I was almost off the coach and sprinting inside without a backward glance before another member of staff reminded me we had students with us still sitting with their seatbelts on, such was my excitement.

Obviously part of the universal appeal is the cross between the relatability of school experience with the fantasy elements of adventure, fellowship, and mythology that I came to realise were abundant and just as serious as Tolkien. For me though, and I think for teachers generally, Harry Potter captures something of the very real magic that we experience and contribute to in our profession.

Walking through the Hogwarts Express, peering into compartments representing iconic moments from the series, was like being drawn through a physical montage of the years passing and our beloved characters growing up. Every teacher’s memory is similarly made up of compartments of different students and different tutees who moved on long ago, from different years and different schools or colleges that we ourselves have moved on from. It’s no wonder “journey” is such an overused metaphor in education.

Meeting Buckbeak in the Forbidden Forest, students were transfixed, cooing softly. I saw one well up. It reminded me of how important our job is in developing the foundation of empathy and respect in our learners that mean we do not send rank upon rank of fearful and destructive Draco Malfoys out into the world.

Read the full article ‘Harry Potter captures the magic of teaching’

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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