This is a unique, semester-long question, asked in one of Oregon State University’s lecture halls. If you weren’t familiar with this term, don’t bother looking it up in a college textbook. Rather, you must travel a little farther to the fictional side of the library and pick up a copy of the fiction series detailing today’s favorite protagonist, Harry Potter.
Yes, you are reading this correctly – there is a new freshman introductory course called “Finding your Patronus” based on the seven books by J. K. Rowling. By definition, a patronus refers to a guardian animal that possesses characteristics from your personality. Want to find your patronus? There are several online quizzes that will tell you what yours is too! I just took one and found out my patronus is a toad.
What makes this course even more exciting is the release of the new movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part One,” and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando. Even though this course has been offered previously, it has recently attracted considerable media attention. The popular series made this enrolling in this course a no-brainer for some. Students will use characters from “Harry Potter” in relation to real historic events. Last Wednesday they discussed and compared Martin Luther King Jr. to Albus Dumbledore, headmaster at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where Harry attends. There are more than wizards discussed in this course, though. Students will also engage in topics such as “Avatar” and Facebook.
This blend of real life and the life of Harry Potter, which has captivated so many, is surely an interesting tool to attract students, but even more vital to introduce those students to creative and critical thinking by using familiar examples and characters.