Tuesday, June 12, 2018


June 11-15 activity at the Science and Discovery Center in Panama City "Wizards, Witches and Spells"

Library Activity Harry Potter Day at the Library
Now, both of the above activities depend upon a parent bringing the child to participate. That is a parent's prerogative. I would prefer the activity not be a part of tax payer supported institutions like the Library, but apparently the Library Foundation considered it a worthy endeavor. 

The Science and Discovery Center is not funded by federal or state dollars. (It is hard to see Science here, and I would argue that discovering "Wizards, Witches, and Spells" and experimenting with spells and potions should not be a part of a serious Science and Discovery Center, but that is up to the parent and the individuals who donate.)

But using Harry Potter as school curriculum takes a captive child and indoctrinates that child to the philosophy of J.K. Rowling and her creation, Harry Potter. Rowling is not an educator, but an author with a degree in Classics with Mythology a favorite aspect. Child development has no consideration in her world. Just the development of a good story and she has been extremely successful there. The two entities above just carry that role play forth into extracurricular activities that reinforce that curriculum. So, considering the potential impact on the child, I ask what long range studies have been done on the consequences of this curriculum?

Screen Shot of a FEW of the Common Core activities on Harry Potter Kindergarten through the 4th grade
What is this obsession with Harry Potter and what are the consequences? 

1.  Has any long-range study been conducted on this "curriculum"? Would you give a drug to a child that had not been tested? Yet a mind is less important?

2. Before we introduce children to this intensive role-play which is a psychotherapeutic technique to change attitudes and beliefs, shouldn't this be given to the public to decide whether they agree that modeling witchcraft is a community benefit? 

I wonder if other Christian parents/grandparents share my concern? We bemoan school shootings? And encourage witchcraft?

Part of the problem with Common Core is that it was not developed by educators and is not founded on proven child development. 


So subjecting our children to a smorgasbord of Harry Potter has not been empirically tested as to the consequences. 

I posted the above on Facebook and then a dear former student posted: 

I hate to disagree but I do not think it promotes witchcraft anymore than The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe made me believe in time travel. It is just a story, that engages all levels of children in reading, and science. Sure they call it "spells and potions" but if it teaches them to learn experimenting and chemistry then I am all for it. We need all children to see learning as fun and has outcomes and this is a great way to get past the "teach to test" and see that reading, chemistry and math have a purpose and place in our daily life.

I responded:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S Lewis had the Lion in the role of Christ who sacrificially gave himself for Edmund. That is worth emulating. However, Harry Potter is out for revenge. Is that a character trait we choose to model in children? As an educator, one must insist on empirical studies to determine the effect of a curriculum on a child. 

For example, years ago, Encyclopedia Britannica joined with the Osmonds to develop a film to encourage understanding. In the film, a child who had been bullied tried to kill himself by hanging. In the film the child was saved, however, second grader Stephen Nalepa attempted the same thing to bring sympathy to himself. But help did not come in time and he died. Psychotherapy should never be done on a classroom of students because you simply do not know how individual children will be affected. 

Indeed, this quote from Harry Potter reminds me quite a lot of Stephen Nalepa:

"But…" Harry raised his hand instinctively toward the lightning scar. It did not seem to be there. "But I should have died – I didn't defend myself! I meant to let him kill me!"

"And that," said Dumbledore, "will, I think, have made all the difference." (35) 

Ah… so, we see, it's not Harry's actual demise, but his decision to die that counts. This choice, made of his own free will, and for the sake of others, is what saves him in the end.

Potter means to sacrifice himself, but fails. What small child might think that his sacrifice if well intentioned might save others. We presume too much maturity from these little ones! Just as Stephen Nalepa's teachers thought he understood the symbolism of that sacrifice and did not take it all literally. 

By schools putting their imprimatur on Harry Potter and his magic and wizardry, they are mixing fact and fiction in such away as to influence children. How can you predict the effect? 

How many children have been influenced to actually attempt some of those spells and sorcery? Why do you think God warned against these activities and why should Christian parents allow this debasement of their child's spiritual understanding? 

Are you certain it has no negative effect on those precious souls entrusted to your care? Certainly reading, chemistry and math have a purpose but for spells and potions? 

Be careful Stephanie, that you don't get brainwashed by an education philosophy proven to have gone astray. 

This is a good thing? 

"But the Potter books have become darker and darker with each new edition. Human sacrifice, sucking blood from dead animals, and possession by spirit beings have all been depicted in the series. 
To give just one example (of many hundreds of dreadful passages in these books), in fourth book ("Flesh, Blood and Bone") Harry is magically transported with his friend Cedric to a dark, scary graveyard. There Harry is tied to the headstone of Lord Voldemort's father's tomb by Wormtail, a shapeshifter who takes the form of a rat. A slithering snake circles around Harry. Wormtail utters a death curse and a shocked Harry witnesses the murder of his friend Cedric. Just the kind of thing parents would want their first-graders hearing."

Stephanie wrote: 

Harry isn’t out for revenge at all. He doesn’t even know his true self in the beginning - he ultimately must sacrifice himself so everyone can live. Same story line as CS Lewis - only CS Lewis told us his intent and JK Rowling used magic.  

I think that is why reading all types and styles is of upmost importance. It would crazy to remove Romeo and Juliet just bc 2 teenagers fall in live and then end up taking their own lives. The play doesn’t prompt youth suicide but if the same logic is used as some do for Harry Potter- then 9th graders should no longer read Shakespeare’s classic. 

I see your concerns but I fear much more what W sees via tv or technology bc that seems “real” and I can explain how books are make believe.

I responded:

For one thing, Stephanie, we are discussing two different age groups. I see Harry Potter in Common Core beginning in Kindergarten. This is an age where reality and fantasy can sometimes be confused. You think Harry Potter is a worthy role model? Also, I do not believe Potter's "gift" of sacrifice comes through at the very beginning. A child must go through many days of darkness and danger before any "sacrifice" in Harry Potter. 

And what if the child is absent that day? Or distracted? And doesn't get that message.

The Jesuits say, give us a child till he’s seven and we’ll have him for life. What you model in a child that early stays with him for life. You had better be certain you are modeling good, Stephanie, because God warns, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6

) If even one child turns to witchcraft through this "curriculum" that will be held to your account. A soul matters. 

1.Could Potter's revenge against Lord Voldermort influence impressionable or vulnerable children to exact revenge against classmates who wrong them? Perhaps by bringing guns into schools to shoot those who have rejected or humiliated them?

2.What about deception and anger being glorified. Are these characteristics you want to encourage in children? 

3.Is the theme of death a good one for Kindergarten through elementary children? 

4.We wonder at the rise of suicide and self-mutilation? Think about Dobby as a role model. 

One supporter of the books posted this in a Harry Potter chatroom:

 "Although I love the books so much, I am concerned with the influence Debby may have on young children. Particularly because the lovable ad comical Debby engages in quite severe forms of hurting himself (such as ironing his hands) as a punishment and to show loyalty...I am particularly troubled about the potential for social contagion. It has been shown that 8% of middle school students, 14 to 15% of high school students and about 20% of college students have engaged in non suicidal self-injury on at least one occasion.

This indicates that self-injury is a surprisingly prevalent public health problem. the social contagion of another self-injurious behavior, suicide, has been established in studies showing that the suicide rate increases in periods after publicized suicides. That has resulted in news programs limiting the publicity surrounding suicides. Because of this, I chose to express concerns about the possible contagion of self-injury."
Just because it is "fun" does not justify its use in a classroom. Reading Harry Potter should be an activity for parent and child because the parent knows the effect on the child. "Fun" does not make it fit for a classroom. We must guard our children's minds just as we do their bodies. God says, "As a man thinketh, so is he." Even if you are not a Christian, it is easy to understand what that means. 

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." 1 Corinthians 13:11. Being an adult means looking to the future and considering the consequences. 

"Fun" can have many consequences. A teacher is charged with education not entertainment, a concept that the Colleges of Education, influenced by Pestalozzi and his "play theory" have somehow gotten carried away with.

(I find it interesting that Pestalozzi was influenced by Enlightenment philosopher, Rousseau, who had five illegitimate children by his mistress and left them all at a foundling home insuring their death. What did he know about morality or children at play? Of course, Rousseau's most famous book was Emile in which the child taught himself through discovering the world about him.) 

Though Emile was fiction/fantasy, many have used that as their guide for education. Strange that we argue that fantasy has no effect and then we refer to Rousseau as a guide in education. 

You imply that this make believe is relevant-- an educational goal that I take issue with because I think education should open doors to opportunities and a vision to a world that can be for each child. I do not want them limited to what is "relevant" to their current situation. Spells, potions, and curses DO NOT have a purpose and place in our daily life nor should they be relevant to their future.

I love and respect you, Stephanie. I pray God will guide and direct you as you guide and influence those He has entrusted to you.

Pat Matriciana: "Those who say that Harry Potter's books do not teach witchcraft don't understand that one of the essentials of witchcraft is that there is no good or evil. There is no right or wrong. It is as you perceive it. So there's a sort of relativism, that in your situation if you do one thing or in my situation if I do a different thing, we're both doing the right thing even if it's wrong. There are no absolutes...In fact, throughout the books, Harry is rewarded when he deliberately lies, or deliberately does something wrong, instead of the teachers expelling him, which Harry thinks he's going to be expelled for something he did wrong, he is rewarded...It doesn't matter what this little boy does is wrong, he's rewarded for it...


I also wonder at the exaltation of experimentation. Does this not produce cognitive dissonance when we encourage experimentation in some things and then tell children not to experiment with drugs, sex, etc. because there is danger there. This "face your fears" foolishness I saw firsthand once when a principal friend of mine patted a caged wolf as a "team building" exercise.

 "Fear is a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat that occurs in certain types of organisms, which causes a change in metabolic and organ functions and ultimately a change in behavior, such as fleeing, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events."

Fear is a God given protection. Why is it the role of education to undermine that natural inclination for self-protection. Why would we encourage children to ignore this?

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