Wands Away (or Preaching to Infidels Who Wear Earplugs)
Law Teacher, Vol. 41, 2007
22 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2007
In The Order of the Phoenix, Professor Dumbledore sacrifices his right to stay at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to keep Harry Potter and other students in school. And when asked why a wizard as powerful as he would choose to teach, he responds in The Half-Blood Prince: "To a wizard such as myself, there can be nothing more important than passing on ancient skills, helping hone young minds." In those two moments, J.K. Rowling succinctly conveys her feeling about education (essential) and educators (noble). In that view, it is no wonder we (law teachers) might be drawn to the Harry Potter books! But there is something more there than simple reassurance that we have made the right decision in becoming teachers; Rowlings' Hogwarts offers us metaphors, paradigms and methods that serve as useful (and fun) platforms for discussing institutional and individual teaching decisions. In this essay, I examine Hogwarts and Hogwarts' teachers in order to demonstrate that the very best professors - whether magical or legal - share certain methods and traits. In particular, they demonstrate the necessity of practice to theory and theory to practice, and see law (and magic) at the intersection. In addition, they acknowledge that theirs is not a morally neutral enterprise; they exhibit a deep concern for students' well-being; they are conscious of the meaning of their roles as educators and understand the myriad constituencies to which they owe some obligation, but they resist a consumer model of education; they are explicit about their goals in the classroom; and they understand and accept the responsibility that comes with the inherent power they occupy in the teacher-student relationship.
Keywords: legal education, Harry Potter, pedagogy
JEL Classification: I21, K10, Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation