Talkin’ Bout My Generation: The Impact of Harry - and HPEF - on Three Generations
Cathy Leogrande, Joe Leogrande, & Crystal Ponto
This is a presentation five years in the making. Cathy Leogrande, mother and educator attended her first HPEF conferences in 2005. She took her son Joe (an intelligent young man with equal parts love of all things Potter and disillusionment with sixth grade) out of school for several days to attend The Witching Hour. She watched him sit enthralled in sessions, from a discussion of the etymology and Latin roots of many of Rowling’s words to a lecture by Henry Jenkins. They were both hooked. The annual conference became a sacred event, one they faithfully attended each year. From water quidditch at Lumos to dessert with Jim Dale at Portus, as well as perennial favorite John Granger, both recognized how the books had become a springboard for a host of thoughtful and creative individuals.
As a college professor in a teacher education program, Cathy realized that Rowling’s work carried possibilities and benefits for reluctant learners, especially boys, beyond her own son. She began to use the papers, audiotapes and materials from the annual conferences in conjunction with the Harry Potter novels with teachers in many of her classes. One of her colleagues, Crystal Ponto, began using these materials with her students: teens and tweens in an alternative education setting outside traditional public schools, as well as with her own primary grade children. In all cases, the magic of the Potter series along with the expanded knowledge from the conferences served as catalysts for learning.
The focus of this presentation is how the combination of canon and conferences forged new avenues of learning in two schools and one college, each of which created ripples of learning for others. The key to the material in the presentation is the synergy resulting from organizations such as HPEF that extended learning beyond the books themselves and produced entirely new knowledge and skills, from websites to fanfiction to Wizard Rock that reached audiences of all ages and occupations. Information is presented in three themes: Impact on Young Children (ages 5-10), Impact on Youth (12 -17), Impact on Adults (18+). Emphasis will be placed on increased motivation and literacy skills both traditional (reading, writing speaking and listening) and other learning modes (media, digital and information literacy).
Interactive discussion will be held with the audience participants during the final portion of the presentation to help them discover potential extensions for their own learning.
Cathy Leogrande is an Associate Professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. She developed a graduate education course entitled Harry Potter: Multidisciplinary Perspectives that is in its fifth year. From video games to comics and graphic novels, she promotes all aspects of new literacies as avenues C87of teaching and learning for all ages. She would like to thank everyone at HPEF for saving her son from a sterile and passive educational environment and showing him that magic does exist at least once a year.
Crystal Ponto has taught in alternative education for 13 years, and uses her own brand of magic to motivate her students. She is an adjunct professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY and helps future and current teachers develop and hone their skills. Although she has been mistaken for Bellatrix Le Strange on more than one occasion, she swears she did not kill Sirius Black. Really.
Joe Leogrande graduated from high school a few weeks ago. His college essay, entitled “The Power of Words,” described his experiences at the Harry Potter conferences and their impact on his education and life. It must have made a good impression on admissions officials, since he will be a freshman at Fordham University in New York City, his first choice, this fall.