Reading "Harry Potter" in School

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TeacherSandra, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    My son will be heading to a new high school this fall.

    And without going into many details now (my son has a 1:30 appt; and it's almost 1!!), I'd like to know if there are any high schools that require reading Harry Potter during the class/lesson, etc...

    If you can shed any light; please enlighten me.
    FYI, I'm on the negative side of the pole requiring H.P. reading, don't care for the H.P. books at all.

    thanks so much.
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Sandra~I don't think HP will ever be required reading in any school setting just because people have negative feelings about it. That's not to say that it's not in the library for students to read on their free time.
     
  4. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, and I would love to see them taught in schools.

    Having said that, I don't think *any* school *anywhere* requires students to read *any* thing. In other words, there's always an out for a parent who disagrees with the choice of the teacher's novel. Most of the schools around here do not put it on the recommend list at the high school level. It will most likely not be an issue.
     
  5. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    I liked the HP books, but I don't see where they're such great choices for high school reading.

    My high school reading were books like the Scarlet Letter, the Crucible, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, Shakespeare, Toffler's Future Shock, etc. Books and stories with deeper themes regarding society, morality, and philosophy. HP is light, enjoyable reading, but it's a huge stretch to consider it anything like literature. I've seen comics with more depth. The early books are also basically just a copy of P.G. Wodehouse's books (such as The Golden Bat), except that she makes the boarding school a school of magic.

    The main question would be why they picked HP, over any other books. So the kids would like it? To teach about creating fantasy worlds?

    Personally, I don't see it as a great choice.

    edit: Maybe I misinterpreted, it seemed like you were saying HP was part of the curriculum for the school.
     
  6. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Hijack - Bandnerd, did you see EnglishComp's tweet:
    literary lineage - Hamlet, Huck, Holden, Harry
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Most of these books were extremely controversial when they were originally published. Only from the perspective of time and distance did they become "classics". I believe Harry Potter is destined to the same fate. Re-read them with a critical eye...particularly the last 3. Every element of good literature is there, from a complex plot, to the use of symbolism, to the incredible use of foreshadowing and flashback. It's a classic coming of age story, mixed with the classic good vs evil story. There's even elements of Christianity in it (the hero sacrifices himself to save his people, but doesn't really die, and the antagonist can no longer hurt the people because of the sacrifice made by the protagonist).

    Harry Potter is well written, and contains a wealth of topics that can be academically discussed. I see no problem with them being read for classroom use.
     
  8. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    KU, I didn't see it but that's hilarious.

    I think the reason that people are choosing to teach the HP books is because it is of high interest, and it is very well written. On a purely literary level, it's a perfect example of the archetypal hero and novel. I also think it address all the themes that you mentioned. As for the quality of writing, I don't really think that Arthur Miller wrote any more eloquently than J.K. Rowling.

    Traditionally, everyone has taught Huck Finn, The Crucible, Scarlet Letter, etc., and those are great books, but why have they become sacred cows? Why not teach something new that has literary merit?
     
  9. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    Isn't HP kind of young for high school? I feel like they would think it is "babyish" even though I am sure they have all read it:)
     
  10. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I love Harry Potter so much, I memorized the entire series. We all have a right to our own opinions, but I sincerely hope that intelligent people read something themselves, rather than base their opinion on someone else's opinion, before passing judgment. This applies to all literature, by the way, not just HP.

    Consistency is important, too. I am assuming that Harry Potter haters do not allow their children to be exposed to the witches and magic in Disney films, either. And what about that evil Wizard of Oz? And Narnia? My goodness, there's evil everywhere.

    My apologies for being sarcastic. Censorship is and will always be the truly horrific issue.
     
  11. melissa803

    melissa803 Comrade

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    What class is it for? British lit? I can't see how it could fit into a HS curriculum, but I'm definitely about high interest books for adolescent readers. There is a lot of research out there saying kids who read serial novels that most people consider low brow (like Sweet Valley High) are actually better readers because they read more.

    In a graduate course I took we had to write a paper defending a banned book. I choose HP and my defense, which a pp mentioned was that it was no different that other fairy tales. Good versus evil, things happen in threes, the hero... If people want to ban this than Cinderella should be out the window too.

    BTW most books worth reading are controversial (and often banned) because they make people think!
     
  12. Earth2me

    Earth2me Rookie

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    I agree with Mamacita. We need to allow our kids to have open minds, critically analyze their own reading choices, and come up with their own opinions. My biggest pet peeve is being told that a kid can't or shouldn't read a certain book. Why not?
     
  13. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    I would agree that it would seem strange to read HP in most high school classes. I would think they were written more at a middle school level.
     
  14. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Probably because somebody's next door neighbor's mother-in-law's cousin's pastor, who never read it either and whose kids are watching Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" as we speak, condemned it sight unseen.
     
  15. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Ha, Mamacita!
     
  16. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I refused to read Catcher in the Rye in high school and took a failing grade for it, even after going to the counselor. There wasn't an alternative provided. I still haven't read it, but I would be more open to it now...at fifteen years old I just couldn't get past the shock of GD being used, what twenty times in the first few pages?

    ETA for Clarification: I failed the unit, not the entire course.
     
  17. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    We have a huge censorship debate in my Freshman Honors class when we discuss the counter reformation. We talk about how books were censored, then we listened to songs that were censored at one time. Then my kids write an essay on censorship, it's truely one of my favorite lessons.
     
  18. peggy27

    peggy27 Cohort

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    My son read HP in high school, he was also in a special education class. They also read the Davinci Code that year. I think she was trying to get them interested in reading. In fact my son read Demons and Angles on his own. So it worked!
     
  19. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I don't think that would happen now. I don't know of any school that would fail a student because a parent asserted his/her right to choose a book. The only time where that might happen here is in an AP or Dual Credit class in which the reading selections are determined by powers outside of the school.
     
  20. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I have taught the first book because it follows the conventions of classical epics. I use that and the original Star Wars movie to help reinforce the epic conventions along with our "heavier" traditional epics.
     
  21. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    :haha:

    It has nothing to do with their being "controversial" that makes me think they're a poor choice for a high school curriculum. I would be more likely to favor The Golden Compass in a high school curriculum, for example, and that's far more controversial. Actually, I think those who feel HP is controversial are a bit. . . well, misguided.

    I'll take your advice and re-read them, though. Maybe I've misjudged or forgotten their depth.
     
  22. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    I love Harry Potter and think they are wonderfully written. I also don't think it's too young for High Schoolers. I like the books and I'm an adult! I do agree that in the future, these books will be looked upon as classics.
     
  23. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    You all are wonderful! Thank you for answering my post. I can always come here and ask a question and many will jump on the bandwagon and give their opinions (which is what I want) kindly. :thumb:
    Thank you.

    3Sons, just to clarify; Harry P is not part of the school curriculum. I wanted to call the school and talk with someone just to get my answer, but it was closed.
    Thank goodness this forum is never closed. :love:
    Thank you. :)
     
  24. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I resent being laughed at, but I do thank you for reading my post long enough to say you'll re-read them. I know of more than one college professor that uses the latter books in freshman english lit to teach writing literary analysis BECAUSE they are new and fresh and popular, and have the added bonus of containing everything that good literature needs.


    For everybody else who's stated that they think the books are too young for HS...maybe that would be true of the first few, but not the last ones. Harry Potter is also NOT a serial novel in the same sense of Sweet Valley High. SVH is on par with Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. Harry Potter is in a league all of its own. Yes, there are 7 books, but they grow with the main character. They are written for kids the same age as Harry. So the first few are for middle schoolers, but by the time you get to the last one, its a full fledged work of literature.
     
  25. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    my 12 year old is obsessed and has read all 7 books on his own.
    His reading teacher told him he had to start with the 2nd book because the 1st was below his reading level for AR. I was infuriated!!!!!!

    Sorry, I know this isn't exactly the topic, but HP books can turn reluctant learners into obsessed readers, so........
     
  26. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    He had to start with the second book? That's terrible! So much background and setting the stage is in the first book!
     
  27. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I can't believe this teacher. JUST because the book level wasn't the right arbitrary ar number... tsk... frustrating. I had two VERY smart briliant kids when I taught fifth who started reading HP. Of course, they started with book one. There would be no way I would tell them to start on book four or five just because the others were below their reading level.

    Okay, enough venting. Just had to share!! :D

    Oh, and I agree with the other posters.:)
     
  28. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    The only real problem would be that if you were doing it as a class book you would have to start with the first one because it gives so much background. I think that the later books would be more appropriate for high school, but the first one seems more on par with middle school.
     
  29. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    Oh mmswm, I'm sorry -- you're the last person I want to upset. I respect you and always enjoy reading your posts. I wasn't laughing at you, I was laughing at the idea that my opinion would be based on how controversial they are.

    For personal reading, I'm entirely in favor of the HP books, or pretty much any books that hold a child's interest.
     
  30. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    I'm not sure I'd choose HP as an English class read simply because there is TOOOOO much to cover!! I'd want it as an elective. I think it's a brilliant choice of book to study with kids, as you can delve into so many areas-history, science, philosophy, religion, etc. But to choose just one book to study? I wouldn't choose the first one, and it's hard to jump into a series. So I would create an elective for the year where you travel through the series.
     
  31. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    as more background, my 6th grader began last year HATING reading. Now, that said, he was an awesome reader and had always made commended on reading TAKS, but it was a chore that he very much disliked. He thought it was boring and like too many kids rather play video games.

    Anyways, because of TAKS scores, he was placed in ADvanced reading.

    I started getting progress reports with very low grades because he wasn't reading and taking AR tests (yes a large part of their grade). When I talked to teacher she said she kept sending my son to the library to find a book he liked (part of the reason he never took a test because he never finished a book - he kept returning it and exchanging). She would say, "I really hop he finds something he likes to read".

    Well, I know nothing about what 6th graders read. I have always taught little ones. So, I drag him to library and we stumble upon Mark Twain but our library didn't have HP(go figure). He goes to school and tells teacher he wants to try reading HP. She tells him he had to start with the 2nd one because the first one is below his reading level and they must read from their reading level. So, he started with 2nd. It wasn't until he blew through2nd, 3rd, and 4th that I finally bought the 1st for him.

    I was so mad. I mean something that will motivate a reader and your going to say no???????????? I'd even be fine if they made him get another book on level. But he wasn't even allowed to check it out of the school library because of the level.

    I had to hold my tongue to prevent saying things about the teacher that I did not want to say. Anyways, thank god my son has a parent willing to search for books he enjoys. What really bothers me is......How many have been turned away and have no one to help them get that book??????

    Between Mark Twain and HP my son is now a reader than enjoys it. You wouldn't believe the excitement he has for the HP books. I'll never forget he was reading in the backseat of the car and began sobbing like crazy. I asked what was wrong and he replied ...such n such just died. this is a 12 year old boy.

    Anyways, how is this connected to this thread? I guess I'm expressing my feeling that it is completely viable text to teach from. It can draw kids in that wouldn't otherwise read their text.
     
  32. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    It's okay. I'm having a rough go of it recently and I'm probably too sensitive.
     
  33. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    omg jenleigh....I would have been infuriated with that teacher, though I probably would have also made a LOT of noise to the admin as well. I'm glad he finally got to read the first one and he's enjoying reading. My 8 year old basically taught himself to read when he was 6 so he could read the first book. That boy read everything he could get his hands on so he would get good enough to read HP. I say the books are miracle workers :)
     
  34. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Wow!! I"m impressed. That's so amazing! :)
     
  35. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    Harry Potter is in our library as well but none of us read it in class - some based on negative feelings towards the book and it really isn't part of our curriculum - and we have little time for extra books like that.
     

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