Wednesday, July 20, 2005
I am writing this with my year 12 English students spread before me, as they silently search for the words to communicate their experiences to their chosen 'audience'. I am really looking forward to reading their finished pieces, as I have enjoyed being part of their writing processes over the last couple of weeks. Very cheeky of me to be blogging while they are doing a sac, but oh well.
My week has been punctuated by the arrival of the latest Harry Potter installment. Yes, I was one of those muggles standing in line at 9:00 am on Saturday morning waiting for my pre-ordered copy (and not forgetting my free broomstick, of course). Harry Potter has played an interesting role in the development of my relationships with some of my students. I have this fantastic Harry Potter pencil tin, which travels to all of my classes with me. It is particularly helpful when I have to take an extra- there always seem to be a couple of students in each class who are prompted by the presence of my magic pencil tin to begin a discussion about Harry with me, or just reading in general. Of course, there are probably some students who think that I'm mad, too, but that doesn't concern me.
It was fantastic to arrive at school on Monday morning and be sought out by some of my year 10's and even a few of my year 12's, asking eagerly whether I had finished Harry yet, and what I thought about it. At the beginning of my lesson with my year 10's, one of my students begged me to ban talk of Harry until she had finished reading it. I told her to let me know when she had finished it, and she replied, "Oooh, good, I'll be looking for someone to have an in-depth conversation with about it". Now, if that doesn't make a teacher feel good, I don't know what does (it certainly does it for me).
It's always interesting to think about why a children's book about wizards can create so much furore and excitement around the world. The cynics may argue that the real attraction is the result of a very clever marketing machine- but I find that response very unsatisfactory, and simplistic. When you have a text that has parents lining up to buy it and read it with their kids, a text that shows that any divisions between 'good' and 'evil' are never clear-cut, a text that provides a 'way in' to issues like genocide, racism, power, morality, etc, then I think we should be celebrating it, not bemoaning the fact everyone who reads it must have been 'sucked in', rather than simply enjoying an interesting text.