Monday, July 30, 2007

Of Harry Potter and Stereotypes

It's fairly obvious that Harry Potter, Ron. Hermione, Malfoy, Voldemort and the entirety of Hogwarts are open to interpretations that are in the eye of the beholder. Harry is or is not Jesus. Dolores Umbridge is an example of the worst elements of No Child Left Behind, and of course the whole series is emblematic of a racist society.

There is one stereotype that I wish Harry Potter would foster: the secondary school teacher as public intellectual. In Potterworld, Dumbledore is a leading public intellectual. He's taken seriously by a government ministry and has been asked to head a key department. I can't think of any teacher who would be treated like Dumbledore. (Rod Paige--the Harriet Meyers of education--doesn't count.) I don't know any teacher who will get a 900 page hit piece written about him/her. It's not just Dumbledore; Professor McGonegal also has earned a certain level of public acclaim.

Teachers are supposed to do many things and the list is getting longer, but apparently being an intellectual isn't one of the tasks. Maybe, it's teachers' fault. We allow people who claim that they work harder in the summer than they do during the school year to keep teaching. We allow people who confuse pushing play on a video player with actual teaching to keep their jobs. Still, it would be refreshing to see some of the bright talented people in the profession to be recognized for their intellectual gifts.

No comments: