Harry, Hermione and Ron give a clue on digital literacy
After witnessing the madness of the last Harry Potter book going on sale in Harvard Square, Boston, last month, I wasn't too sure why so many young people (actually, increasingly aging fans) were so keen on the books. But Mrs Edublogger didn't have to drag me out too hard to see the latest Potter film yesterday, and I think I might have touched on one reason why: it translates a lot of the frustrations and excitement of being a teen today.
This morning I see in the paper that an Australian academic reckons there are more lessons on how to teach in Potter books than there are in most post grads. But I already knew that.
For me there was a key moment in yesterday's film which reflects all too well what much classroom teaching involving the web is about these days:
Dolores Umbridge: Your previous instruction in this subject has been disturbingly uneven. But you will be pleased to know from now on, you will be following a carefully structured, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic. Yes?
Hermione Granger: There's nothing in here about using defensive spells.
Dolores Umbridge: Using spells? Ha ha! Well I can't imagine why you would need to use spells in my classroom.
Ron Weasley: We're not gonna use magic?
Dolores Umbridge: You will be learning about defensive spells in a secure, risk-free way.
Harry Potter: Well, what use is that? If we're gonna be attacked it won't be risk-free.
Dolores Umbridge: Students will raise their hands when they speak in my class.
Dolores Umbridge: It is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be sufficient to get you through your examinations, which after all, is what school is all about.
Harry Potter: And how is theory supposed to prepare us for what's out there?
Dolores Umbridge: There is nothing out there, dear! Who do you imagine would want to attack children like yourself?
Harry Potter: I don't know, maybe, Lord Voldemort!
Does this not just sum up the problems I alluded to in the last post, regarding internet safety and its long lost cousin digital literacy?
I'm not spoiling the film to point out that Lord Voldemort, while being the baddie, is not the only baddie in this story. The teacher, Dolores Umbridge, is 'old school', uses techniques which are outdated and discipline which is archaic, "never liked children anyway" and works for the Ministry. Sound familiar?