Bringing Harry Potter to class

Sonali Bhatia

How can teachers use Harry Potter to inculcate values or teach current affairs?
Here are a few tips.

The significance of ‘houses’:
The four ‘houses’ at Harry’s school, Hogwarts, are Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Each house has certain characteristics associated with it. Typically, Gryffindors are brave, Ravenclaws clever, Hufflepuffs loyal, and Slytherins ambitious. Students, at the age of 11, are ‘sorted’ into houses by a hat, which, when worn, can read what’s in the student’s brain and decide which characteristic is predominant in the student.

harry-potter-books Each house thinks it is the best – and either admires the characteristics of another house or loathes them. Thus, Gryffindor students get along with Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, but not Slytherins, and so on.

But here’s a thought. What if the characteristics of these houses are, in fact, different characteristics within each of us? Sometimes, we feel brave, sometimes loyal, sometimes we behave intelligently, and sometimes, put our ambition above all else.

Thus, each of us is, in fact, struggling with our own traits – and we need to either enhance or subdue our dominant trait, depending on the need of the hour and the changing situation.

During the Battle of Hogwarts, the classic fight of good versus evil, it is a loyal student who first declares that he does not want to leave the school before the battle starts, but wants to stay and fight. Loyalty comes first, in a battle. Then bravery and intelligence. The ambitious students are all evacuated – they want to save their own skins, not help others. Possibly, survival instinct at play.

Teachers need to talk to students about this. In which situation is loyalty important? When do you need courage the most, and when do you need wits or ambition? How do these combine to make you a whole human being? Situations from Harry Potter or from students’ lives can be role-played to highlight this.

The author is a freelance writer and educator. She can be reached at

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