What I Learned about Learning from Harry Potter

What I Learned about Learning from Harry Potter

While suffering from the unavoidable nasty winter cold this month, I have spent many cozy hours on my couch rereading the Harry Potter canon. I’ve been mulling over all the examples the Harry Potter story offers of how motivated people can create learning opportunities and collaborate to accomplish team goals.

Spoilers follow, if you are not yet a Harry Potter reader. 

  • Leaders empower others through mentorship. In Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix, when the Hogwarts students suffer from the lack of a competent Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Harry becomes a peer-to-peer teacher, leading informal classes to share his experience and practical knowledge. Harry creates a team (an Army, in fact) of capable, empowered and knowledgeable peers.

    Take Away: A good mentor will help anyone make the most of our abilities.

  • It takes more than book reading to be an expert at what you do. Hermione is studious and diligent, but her book learning does not always help her succeed in the real world. In Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince, Hermione relies on the rote instructions in her Potions book and grows ever more exasperated with Harry as he thrives using the the mysterious handwritten notes in his used Potions book.

    Take Away: Harry succeeds in Potions with his rogue textbook because he’s flexible and willing to take risks. Lesson learned.

  • Practice makes perfect. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it takes Harry a long time to learn to produce a perfect Patronus, but he does it by working consistently with Professor Lupin.

    Take Away: Diligence, hard work and repetitive practice enable him to achieve a skill well beyond expectations for his age group.

  • Collaborative teams solve complex problems. In Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Harry wants to set out alone to hunt down the remaining Horcruxes, shunning Ron and Hermione’s offers to travel with him. They persuade him to go it as a team, and the entire book offers countless examples of how Hermione and Ron’s partnership and collaboration is necessary to get the group through challenges.

    Take Away: Working in teams offers multiple ideas, multiple points of view and complex solutions for complex challenges.

These examples of learning and problem solving are great values for children to learn as they develop their reading skills, but they are also great examples of how leaders can thrive in professional organizations.

Plus, Harry Potter is fun to read.