A Moment of Spontaneity by Danie Weaver, Director/Professor – School of Communications

A moment of Spontaneity:

As a teacher I have learned a few things about how to help class move smoothly. Muting the background noise. Using every student’s name to help them feel part of the class. My lesson plans are very rigid and formulaic so that we can cover everything I hope to cover in the short hour class time.

This was not the case in one  such Thursday,  In Reading and Writing Lab, we are continuing reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and as I always do I had an theme I wanted to get to. For those who have never been in reading and Writing class, I structure the class with review first then moving on to listening to the audio book of the book we are reading. Following that portion with talking about themes that relate to the book.

As we finished listening to the audio book, one of our students, N.,  asked an very important question. Does defeating the dark Lord make Harry Potter heroic?

Which is a question I’ve pondered with some of my friends who also have read Harry Potter. Never in class at CAA because sometimes the morality of someone is so black and white with our students that usually a question like this is answered with simple yeses and nos.

Now I know what you are thinking!! I ignored it, I needed to stick to the script, we wouldn’t have time to get to the very important theme.

Nope, I let the class dictate the discussion. I went off book so to speak to allow my students to discuss this idea. Well our conversation around this topic zigzagged from the importance of social morals and rules in every world, to the basics of world building. As these topics were being discussed by various people in the class. We decided ultimately  that it depended on who was telling the story, and if this story was about Voldemort’s rise to power from his perspective that this would make Harry the villain in the story.

While we were having this discussion I kept an eye on the chat as well.

As we like to say during zoom classes the chat was blowing up. And indeed it was, another student, S.,  asked another very smart question. Our World has many different types of people, Asian, African American, and other ethnicities. Does Harry Potter have this as well? I immediately chatted back to him that yes they did, however I assured him that ethnicity was not as important as what the person or in this case wizard did.  If someone was an Auror, or Charms student was more important than their ethnicity.   S. responded via chat “Wow.”

I learned something very important during this class. Be spontaneous and sometimes don’t doubt your student’s intelligence.