Monday, June 14, 2004

The Last I Have to Say About Harry

For a while, anyway.

The June 4th edition of The Hartford Courant carried an article called School's Out for Harry in which the author, Kathleen Megan, says that the Potter books are used more often in college level classes than in grade school.

She quotes English teachers calling HP "middle- or lowbrow literature" and thus not appropriate for the classroom. The terms "middlebrow and lowbrow" are considered fighting words in many circles, no matter what piece of writing they're referring to. Another teacher had a really interesting thought. "We feel that if it's something children loved or found on their own, it doesn't make sense to turn it into an assignment."

Ah, what? Wouldn't assignments be a lot more interesting if they did involve books kids loved or found on their own? Well, I guess we can't have that.

No one mentioned the length of these books as a problem when considering adding them to a school curriculum. Even in paperback, it would have to be costly to purchase enough books for a class or two. And how long would it take a class of, say, twenty kids to read and "discuss" one of these things? A semester? I can remember one of my kids reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond when he was in grade school. His class read a few pages, filled out a deadly worksheet, read a few more pages, filled out another worksheet. It was mindnumbing. Imagine doing that with the last Potter book. They might still be working on it a couple of months after they got into seventh grade.

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