Monday, May 5, 2014

The School that has my Daughter Begging for More

My eldest has enrolled in a boarding school. She lives in a house on campus, is earning an "A" average, and prefers to spend even her free time engrossed in the material. Magically, she does all this alongside her regular homeschooling curriculum and without spending one moment away from home.

Oh, and she owns an owl.

She has recently discovered the online Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

This incredible website allows students (I wouldn't dare to presume the students are only children -- which might be a concern for parents of younger, less discerning students) to enroll in what looks and feels like an actual online educational program, except entirely shrouded in all things Harry Potter. Once enrolled, students are assigned to a dorm and may also request one should they have a real-life friend who has already joined this virtual world. Circumventing the all-powerful sorting hat, the student also chooses their own house.

My daughter is in Gryffindor.

Here's the kicker: this online Hogwarts actually assigns work that the professors return, graded and with useful commentary.

The assignments my daughter has completed so far are indeed what the book's students might have to complete: why you want to be a witch/wizard, tools of magic, ethics of using certain spells. This makes the website alluring, even for my 14 year old. At the same time, the assignments require many of the skills a student needs to navigate any educational program in the real world, such as grammar, spelling, essay writing, logic, and persuasion.

Does it matter that the projects that so engage her are based upon a world that is entirely fictional? In her case, I would say this is actually a plus. She is a child with a literary heart, who lives in books anyway. Were she assigned book reports on Harry Potter, her interest would wither, right alongside an incredible opportunity to harness some prime pedagogical energy. Yet she has spent an inordinate amount of time over the past seven years thinking about and existing within the world of Hogwarts.

Now she does it in a setting that allows her to flex her academic skills and receive feedback for her work, while also motivating her to complete her regular, real-world workload.



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