Glenbow student knows Harry Potter's secret
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Last week I met a Cochrane student who knows Harry Potter's secret. How I learned about her insight itself points to the secret of great education in our community: the right combination of enthusiastic kids, imaginative teachers, and a system that encourages innovation and excellence in learning.
On Oct. 23 I was privileged to be one of a group of writers invited to conduct workshops at Glenbow Elementary School's "Write On," a school-wide conference on writing.
Privileged? How else can one describe being on the same program with writers like Alberta children's author Sigmund Brouwer and "Canada's Cajun Queen," singer/songwriter Crystal Plamondon?
For my humble contribution to this stellar event, I brought my magic picture frame. The 14 Grade 1 to 4 students with whom I worked were to imagine a scene in the otherwise-empty frame and then create a story around it.
And images and stories they did indeed create! One of the kids saw himself flying an airplane through the sky. Another saw a cuddly cat on a purple pillow by a warm fire, while friend dog was left barking outside, its moist nose pressed enviously against the windowpane.
It wasn't long, however, before one student started playing with a Harry Potter theme. He saw himself standing on a broomstick flying through the air in a game of Quidditch. He scores! He falls to the ground! He's saved! His team wins!
I asked the kids how many of them had seen the movie based on JK Rowling's story. They all raised their hands excitedly.
It looked like we were on a roll, so I asked them if they remembered the scene in the railway station where Harry was trying to find platform 9 3/4 for the train to Hogwarts School. "Yes," they beamed.
"How did Harry finally get to platform 9 3/4?" I asked.
"He walked through the brick wall," a student answered.
"Could you walk through a brick wall?" I asked.
"No...o...o!" all the students answered as one.
"Well then, how did Harry go through the wall?"
"He had magic," one student answered.
"He was a wizard," said another.
These were pretty good answers for anyone who had read the book or seen the movie.
But then a Grade 3 or 4 girl raised her hand and gave me an answer that took my breath away:
"Harry Potter could walk through the brick wall," she said, "because a writer had a great imagination!"
"Wow!" I said to myself. This student was not satisfied with merely being a spectator. She was taking ownership of the creative process itself. Someday maybe she will be in front of a group of students talking about all the books she has written.
Out of the way, JK!
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Next week I plan to return to the theme of loyalty introduced in last week's column. To kick it off, have a look at the following from coffee companions Perry Wager and Lorraine Champagne, who sent me their summaries of an evening's family discussion on the topic:
ANY OTHER thoughts on loyalty out there?
© 2002 Warren Harbeck