A new course that allows students to explore their leadership through the world of Harry Potter will be held during the fall semester. Students will work off the book "Life Lessons Harry Potter Taught Me." Brynn Mechem, DN Photo
Life lessons from Hogwarts brought to Ball State
On her 11th birthday Emma Mentley was given the book “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Since she was the same age as Harry in the book, she instantly connected, growing up alongside him as she devoured book after book.
Now, the assistant director of student life is taking her love for the series and turning it into a class that allows students to explore both the wizarding world and their leadership skills.
The course, which is offered as either an elective or part of the leadership studies minor, will allow students to use the context of Harry Potter to learn more about leadership and themselves.
“There’s so many life lessons to be learned from these stories,” Mentley said. “There’s different characters for everyone to connect with and it’s one of those stories that means different things every time you read it.”
Mentley, who normally advises student organizations, is not receiving any pay to teach the one credit course. She intends to focus the course on what there is to be learned from the four houses.
“One reason it works so well — Harry Potter and leadership — is that many leadership models are quadrant-based and there are four houses so they just really line up,” she said. “there will be a lot of focus on the four core values of each of the houses which is bravery, intellect, loyalty and order.”
While a strong knowledge of the wizarding world will be helpful, Mentley said members of the class do not have to read the series before starting. Instead, the class will study examples given in the book “Life Lessons Harry Potter Taught Me,” by Jill Kolongowski, who Mentley attended middle school with.
“There are enough examples in this text that you can just read what the author writes and be able to talk about that, understand it and reflect on that,” she said. “So you really actually don’t need to have read the books, however, it won’t be difficult to watch the movies and have a much better understanding of the series.”
Mentley said she has reread the series at least 10 times herself and she learns something new and identifies with a different character each time.
“As an 11-year-old, I was very Hermione myself so I connected with her. But reading it now, I understand Molly Weasley in ways that I didn’t when I was younger,” she said. “So, that’s what stories and pop culture have so much power in is that they can help you grow up and they can help you understand your own reality.”
After a slow start to registration, Mentley sent out an email to tell people about the course. Within a few hours, the class of 25 seats was full with a waiting list that was just as long.
Mentley said she is looking forward to sharing her love for the series with the students and helping them find the lessons within the story.
“It’s learning your own morality. The book has an overarching theme of good versus evil and life is a lot more than good versus evil and life is a lot more than that,” she said. “You’re learning about what you think is right and I think that’s a lot of what is coming out of Harry’s stories and what comes out of our own, I think we’re all searching for what we think is right.”