What can clinical teachers learn from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone?

Med Educ. 2002 Dec;36(12):1176-81. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.2002.01376.x.


Many clinical teachers acquire a working knowledge of the principles of teaching and learning through observation, by adopting positive and rejecting negative examples of clinical instruction. Well selected vignettes of teaching behaviours taken from contemporary film and literature may provide rich substrate by which to engage clinical teachers in discourse about instructional technique. This paper draws on J K Rowling's novel and its companion film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and critically analyses the teaching styles of the staff at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft in the context of contemporary generic and medical education literature. Specifically, it argues that effective teachers demonstrate not only an in-depth knowledge of their discipline but possess a keen appreciation of the cognitive changes that occur in their students during the learning process. They are, furthermore, proficient in core instructional skills such as small group facilitation, feedback and questioning. Most importantly, effective teachers model appropriate attitudes in their professional setting and possess highly developed personal qualities such as creativity, flexibility and enthusiasm.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Medicine in Literature*
  • Teaching / methods*