Why Can’t Schools be More Like Hogwarts?

It would be so cool to be a teacher like Minerva McGonagall, shape-shifting from a cat into a no nonsense teacher with a heart of gold and a wicked gleam in her eye.   The students would arrive to class eager to learn and practice their knowledge against real world dilemmas. Shopping at Diagon Alley would be an adventure in itself.  Students would display genuine excitement to purchase their new books for the year, to try out their new wands and to engage in conversation with other students in a common experience after the long summer’s break.  (Maybe Hogwarts is on to something having the students own their books and have personal accountability for their tools).  

How great that would be to find the magic so missing from today’s uninspired curriculums.  It is not good enough to simply learn facts and spew them out, only to be forgotten as soon as they are regurgitated on a test.  Real learning would be required and applied in an end of year challenge!   What if an environment similar to that of Hogwarts could be unleashed on US schools?  What a great place that would be!

Why are we so drawn to the Hogwarts school of Wizardry and Witchcraft?  What is it that has the children captivated with learning?  Wouldn’t it be great to open the school year with a sorting ceremony where students are placed according to their individual strengths into classes and teams?  Creating an environment of excitement and joy of learning would do wonders from this test-driven culture that seems to suck the joy right out of the children worse then the dementors that guard Azkaban Prison.

Harry Potter was allowed to make mistakes.  Along the way he made friends that helped him to overcome real evil without becoming corrupt himself.  Harry uses magic but he also uses his intellect and his sense of right and wrong.  In the end, isn’t that what the true purpose of education is?  Give the students the tools and then send them off into the world to find out what gifts they have and to form their own alliances, choose their path for life, and hopefully choose to stay on the side of good.

Not much is known about the personal lives of the teachers at Hogwarts, but it seems like many of them are childfree.  What I do find intriguing is why different people have chosen teaching as a profession.

I did not directly choose to be a teacher, but felt that the stars aligned and chose me.  I ignored my calling for many years and kept coming back to square one, which was to be a teacher.  I have worked with children of all ages, ranging from special needs children to those in the Gifted and Talented Program.  It is the challenge to find the special gifts in each and every child and help them on the path to become who they are meant to be.  It is not an easy job, and there are days that you wonder if you can make a difference.

Overall, I love being a teacher and a life-long learner.  I approach each school year with a clear slate and do the best job that I can do to provide the tools for the students to discover their own strengths and weaknesses and hopefully find strategies that will help them grow in the love of learning and the quest for knowledge.

As a teacher who is also childfree, I find that perhaps I have more options to pursue opportunities that come my way.  I have a bit more freedom to control what I do with my time and, perhaps, the responsibility to make the most of it.  I think my rich experiences have been a definite asset to my teaching.  My travels, reading, experiencing new hobbies and cultural events have all fueled a creativity which has been incorporated into my teaching.  Those that assume because you do not have children you can’t possibly understand them are sadly mistaken.  Giving birth is an experience as is being a parent, but it does not equate to the quality of instructor (or, for that matter, human being) that you will be.

I don’t think being a parent makes one a better teacher.  It just provides a different experience base.  I do not see my job as being the parent.  My job is to be the instructor.  Sometimes it seems like the political forces want teachers to take on some of that parenting roll.  If you ask educators, many would tell you that it is this role that has taken so much of the genuine instruction time.

Parents do their children a great service by parenting them at home and preparing them for how to behave in school and in public.  The time it now takes to establish rules and discipline in a classroom setting is more than should be necessary.  For those parents who are doing their job and whose children are coming prepared, thank you!  Know that you are appreciated.  It seems so unfair to your children when so much time in the classroom must be spent working on public vs. private behavior.

Many would say that the world is changing and that rude behavior is part of that change.  Well, I do not accept this.  While teaching the concept of courtesy and the Golden Rule is not the traditional role of the teacher, it now appears that in order to function as a society and as part of a group, sometimes teachers need to step in and play the part of a parent, instilling those values in our students.

Sometimes I would love to solve some of the problems of the world by casting a spell or by a flick of my wand…but alas, that is the world of Hogwarts, not real life. To all the teachers both in and out of the classrooms, I hope this year will be full of the wonder and excitement of learning.  May all of the students start the year ready to learn and be filled with wonder rather than tedium and stress.  I raise my glass and toast the new school year with you.

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