Few teachers are using ‘Potter’ in classes

The Hartford Courant

Jeff Scanlon, head of the English department at Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Conn., is a bit reticent regarding “Harry Potter.”

“I don’t want to sound snobby or elitist, but it’s sort of middle- or lowbrow literature,” he said.

The texts used at Loomis, Scanlon said, tend to be “more challenging, more artistic.”

“Harry Potter” has made it in the movies and onto every kind of product imaginable, but has he flown his Firebolt into muggle classrooms?


Not, at least, in elementary, middle and high schools. On the other hand, Harry is no stranger in colleges.

It may be surprising that a book of such huge popularity isn’t on many curricula or required-reading lists, but the reasons for this are myriad.

First, there’s the basic bureaucratic hurdle: It takes time and money to get a new book into a school curriculum. And trying to add the “Harry Potter” books can present special problems, as some elements of the Christian right oppose having the books in school libraries on the grounds that they promote a belief in witchcraft.

Then there are the peculiarities of the series: The early books appeal more to younger readers, while the later ones are more appropriate for middle school or older readers.

At the high school level, the books aren’t often used, partly because, as Scanlon said, teachers don’t think the text is rigorous enough, and they already have an established canon of books that must be taken up.

In lower grades, the books are sometimes read aloud but aren’t included in the curriculum in large part because of just how popular they are. “So many kids have read the books on their own, it doesn’t make sense to devote a lot of classroom time to it,” said Richard Dlugos, director of language arts and reading for Glastonbury, Conn.