Title

The Reality in Fantasy: Using Harry Potter to Promote Social Justice in the Classroom

Presenter Information

Alice Krebill

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Harry Potter is a special series for a plethora of reasons, one of its most frequently referenced qualities being its widespread popularity. However, Harry Potter's literary merit may be dismissed by some as simple fantasy and entertainment. On the contrary, though Harry Potter takes place in a fantasy world with characters ranging from normal, non-magical “Muggles” to wizards, ghosts, goblins, centaurs, and others, the conflicts that stem from this magical diversity are far from trivial or fictional. In exploring diversity-related oppression, the series transcends the fantasy genre to undertake real-world issues. Through the disadvantaged, yet sympathetic characters of Hagrid, Lupin, Dobby and Griphook, readers of the Harry Potter series encounter the full spectrum of socially engrained injustice, allowing them to gain empathy for individuals in real life who face such injustices every day. Thus, the series lends itself to the secondary classroom quite well as teachers can use the fictional world of Harry Potter as pretext for broaching the otherwise inflammatory subject of real-world racism and social privilege. After approaching the topic from this angle, the teacher can eventually direct the conversation to reality and help students to illuminate parallels between the wizarding world and their own life experience. Ultimately, utilizing Harry Potter in this way goes beyond merely encouraging students to read for fun, as it promotes empathy and understanding and furthers critical thinking and creative problem solving.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 13th, 1:40 PM Apr 13th, 2:00 PM

The Reality in Fantasy: Using Harry Potter to Promote Social Justice in the Classroom

UC 331

Harry Potter is a special series for a plethora of reasons, one of its most frequently referenced qualities being its widespread popularity. However, Harry Potter's literary merit may be dismissed by some as simple fantasy and entertainment. On the contrary, though Harry Potter takes place in a fantasy world with characters ranging from normal, non-magical “Muggles” to wizards, ghosts, goblins, centaurs, and others, the conflicts that stem from this magical diversity are far from trivial or fictional. In exploring diversity-related oppression, the series transcends the fantasy genre to undertake real-world issues. Through the disadvantaged, yet sympathetic characters of Hagrid, Lupin, Dobby and Griphook, readers of the Harry Potter series encounter the full spectrum of socially engrained injustice, allowing them to gain empathy for individuals in real life who face such injustices every day. Thus, the series lends itself to the secondary classroom quite well as teachers can use the fictional world of Harry Potter as pretext for broaching the otherwise inflammatory subject of real-world racism and social privilege. After approaching the topic from this angle, the teacher can eventually direct the conversation to reality and help students to illuminate parallels between the wizarding world and their own life experience. Ultimately, utilizing Harry Potter in this way goes beyond merely encouraging students to read for fun, as it promotes empathy and understanding and furthers critical thinking and creative problem solving.