J.K. Rowling is a genius. Not because her books are so entertaining (which they are), but because she describes school life so well. I’m sure she must have taught at some point in her life. During my month of teaching I have found that I may be actually teaching at a Guatemalan Hogwarts. There are some very interesting similarities between the schools. And yes that means magic. Actually, no that doesn’t mean magic, but I wish it did. But there are similarities between Christianity and magic so I’ll substitute there.
Here in Xela at the Inter American School we have everyone from the Weasly clan, families that have five or more students at our school, to Harry, the orphaned child. Rowling nailed the private/boarding school sibling atmosphere. There are so many brothers, sisters, and even cousins at this school that the assemblies must feel like big family reunions. Rowling’s depiction of middle schoolers also rings true. I could probably name at least one Neville here at IAS and probably even a Draco. I have a Hermoine or two, life is fun teaching over achievers, but then I also have the under achieving Ron or Harry.
I don’t have a kid that is the chosen one, just a couple that think they are. A couple of my students enjoy bending the rules, but I don’t think they really mean any harm. The other day I noticed that a couple of my kids had written their names on their desk with white out. Clearly damaging school property. Very disrespectful. I gave them all a middle school detention. Filch would have strung them up their toes, but we don’t work that way here. I think it’s stupid that they did that. The kicker was their reason for doing it. One of the guys, a squirrelly little sixth grader, told me he wrote his name on his desk so he would know where he sits. Sadly he was telling the truth. I mean didn’t we all learn from Harry and Ron that some rules are meant to be broken? I mean who really cares if the students don’t listen in class or do a lazy job on their homework? Wait a second what kind of example was Harry setting? I mean he did save the world, but does that really make him so great when he was constantly breaking the rules in school?
The students aren’t the only ones that have Hogwarts counterparts. The teachers also share some similarities. I think if I were to relate myself to a Hogwarts teacher I’d probably have to say I’m Hagrid, mostly because I have a full beard, no wait not true. I mean because I have no teaching experience. I’m learning how to handle a class. Two weeks ago I wouldn’t have known what to do about the white out incident, so I hope to move up to the level of Madame Pomfrey soon, or even Gilderoy Lockart. But that might be asking a little too much.
With all these similarities between the two schools I have noticed some differences. I think the one thing where IAS is not at all similar to Hogwarts, besides the fact that our students can’t perform any type of magical incantation, is the fact that we don’t have any school sports team. They all like soccer, probably as much as Harry liked Quittage, but we don’t have any inner school competitions on the soccer field, nor do we have any games between other schools. As the PE coach this kind of makes me sad.
Our focus is elsewhere. We work hard on teaching the kids how to speak and read English. This is kind of like their magical power. Sounds lame, but it will help them get into better schools and open up all kinds of opportunities for them around the world. The fact that we are teaching English in Guatemala is one of the biggest similarities to Harry Potter for me. It is like we are set apart from the rest of the community. The school is set apart even more because we are a Christian school. I think the struggle of how to live a Christian life in a non-Christian world is one of the hidden themes in Harry Potter. As a Christian we are different and set apart from the world. IAS isn’t perfect but neither was Hogwarts. What matters is that our end goal is to honor Christ and I think we are doing that.
I came down to Guatemala with the blessing from my friends and church family. And I’ve taken the responsibility seriously. I think it is very important to share my love for Christ with all of my students. I don’t preach in my classroom, but I’m forming relationships. This is what matters.
I need to go back and read Harry Potter again so I can become a better teacher. It has been my reference point to teaching so far and I believe if I had a better working knowledge of the books I might actually start to become a great something or other. I am truly enjoying my time down here and I hope that this blog has encouraged at least all of you to go read Harry Potter.
Food Review Blog coming soon!