Etown Professor Publishes Essay on Real Teaching Practices in Fictional Series
The Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling has had an enormous impact on two generations of readers. Though Hogwarts, the school where a large portion of the books are set, may be fictional, Elizabethtown College Visting Professor of English, Dr. Tara Moore says students of pedagogy can analyze teaching practices on display there to see what outcomes these fictional professors achieve and how realistic those outcomes actually are. She recently had an essay published titled, No Room for Failure: The Terrors of the Fixed Mindset in the Hogwarts Classroom” where she examines just that.
“One way to evaluate learning at Hogwarts is to see how often its teachers and students demonstrate a growth mindset,” said Moore. “In education, a growth mindset values students’ efforts at learning a skill and believes that perseverance in the face of a learning challenge can result in greater intelligence. For those familiar with the series, it should come as no surprise that most of the wizarding faculty demonstrate the opposite practice, known as a fixed mindset.”
Dr. Moore has long been a fan of the series and has incorporated into her work, hosting a Harry Potter-themed paint night event as a part of her First-Year Seminar program. In her essay, she goes on to examine the tactics of the faculty in the books and how they compare to the non-fiction educational system.
“The iconic Sorting ceremony students face at the start of their education represents the fixed mindset problem at Hogwarts,” said Moore. “From that point on, professors rely on insult, nepotism, and pre-conceived ideas about the students rather than allowing the students a chance to learn and grow in a safe space. Despite being a hero of the series, Dumbledore’s staffing choices are terrible and impart lasting emotional and educational damage to the students under his control. Readers witness how Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and a few of their peers find ways to achieve learning despite their circumstances, which contributes to the underdog narrative that makes the series so popular.”
The essay “No Room for Failure: The Terrors of the Fixed Mindset in the Hogwarts Classroom” now appears in the recently published collection of essays titled, “Lessons from Hogwarts: Essays on the Pedagogy of Harry Potter.” Dr. Moore teaches workplace writing and YA literature courses for the Elizabethtown College English department.