Hogwarts 'provides lessons in teaching dos and don'ts'
HARRY Potter's school for wizards offers insights on good teaching practice, according to an Australian academic.
Dr Jennifer Conn, Melbourne University's medical education lecturer, said JK Rowling's fictional Hogwarts, where Harry and his friends are taught magic, provided a good model for what to do and not do in the classroom.
Dr Conn, who has published two papers on education in the Harry Potter books, said Professor Severus Snape offered a convincing example of how not to teach - asking closed questions on unstudied topics which served only to humiliate his young students.
At the opposite end of the teaching spectrum, Professor Minerva McGonagall showed her students what they could aspire to, by changing a desk into a pig.
She then set her class a simpler task of transforming a match into a needle, allowing them to achieve a result on similar lines.
Dr Conn said Rowling's books were a good model to draw conclusions from because Hogwarts mirrored modern educational institutions.
"One of the most important activities that takes place in this institution is the assessment of the core knowledge, skills and attitudes its students are expected to master to become competent and independent practitioners of magic," she said.
"An external examining body, the Wizarding Examinations Authority, oversees the development and implementation of assessment procedures at Hogwarts.
"There is a series of steps, informed by contemporary educational theory, which internal and external examining bodies need to follow to gather meaningful data about student performance."
She said the lessons of Harry Potter could be applied to doctors educating patients about their treatments, and to teachers in general.
She said new techniques such as problem-based learning and simulation required different skills and Hogwarts showed which methods worked best, especially with small groups of students.
The Harry Potter books also showed the value of practical assessment, she said.
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