When I Grow Up I Want to be Harry Potter

Today in school, apropos of I can ‘t remember what, a student asked me with disbelief and maybe even a tiny bit of disdain in his voice, “Did you want to be a teacher?  I mean like when you were younger?” I laughed out loud at the tone in his voice and the utter skepticism that anyone could choose this profession intentionally.  And there are moments when I wonder similarly, but regardless the answer is no.

I liked school.  I liked the structure and the tasks with neat beginnings, middles, and ends.  I loved to read, I was curious and had a great memory for facts.  So school was a relatively fun place for me.  But I never dreamed of being a teacher.  Even when I decided to go back to school and get my teaching certification, it wasn’t because I wanted to be a teacher.  I did it because I never wanted to work at a desk.  I did it because I wanted every day to be different.  I did it because I thought I could be a consistent adult for kids who might lack one in their lives.  I did it because adolescents make me laugh and think.

But never because I wanted to be The Teacher.  When I see little kids playing school or teacher, they inevitably end up bossing their friends or stuffed animals through a series of tasks.  Unfortunately, I know teachers like that too.  They are teachers who want to be The Teacher.

Which brings me to one of my favorite Harry Potter quotes.  It comes from the King’s Cross chapter in the final book of the series.  Harry is talking to Dumbledore about why he never pursued the position of Minister of Magic.  Dumbledore (also a teacher incidentally) answers him by saying, “It is a curious thing Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.”

Curious, and true.

Voice versus volcanoes

I recently checked out two YA books from the library.  Both have been on my “to-read” list for a while, though admittedly one is by a favorite author.  I had high hopes for the first one.  It was a post-apocalypse survival story that begins with the eruption of a super-volcano!  I don’t know what happens next.  I put it down after about 15 pages.  It didn’t matter how exciting or action-packed the premise was.  The writing wasn’t there for me and neither was the voice.

Nothing much happened exactly in the first few pages of the second book.  A girl gets on to a train.  Another girl is angry about the loss of her father months before.  But the voice is there.  Two voices, in fact since the book is written from alternating perspectives.  I’m immediately drawn right in.  I tear through the book over the course of the next 3 days.  I need to know what’s going to happen to these characters.  What will they realize?  How will they grow and change?  There are no volcanoes, but when someone writes about life in a way that is so universal and yet specific and detailed to the characters they create, so that the reader feels they are somewhere new and somewhere familiar all at the same time it’s better than a volcano or an earthquake or a vampire zombie attack…..at least for me it is.