For many of us who have grown up with the Harry Potter books and movies, it feels unbelievable that the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, released 20 years ago, in November 2001. At the height of the popularity of the Harry Potter books and movie series, merchandise, themed birthday parties and obsessive crushes on Daniel Radcliffe were common. Not much seems to have changed.
While some older fans have been wondering how to hold on to the nostalgia of this magical world and yet be supporters of equality -- after Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling faced backlash for her opinions on politics and gender -- what can’t be denied is that we all learnt a lot from Harry, Hermione and Ron and their time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We learnt about good and evil, standing up for what is right, and friendship and family. There was also a lot to pick up on studying, preparing for exams and handling exam stress. Here’s a list of my learnings from Harry Potter:
- Be prepared on your first day of class. It’s always good to skim through your books beforehand and have a basic idea. You don’t want to be caught in a class with a teacher like Professor Snape, intent on asking the toughest questions on the first day.
- Take notes. Even if the class is as boring as History of Magic, you should take notes so that you don’t have to depend on your friends. And try not to doze off at such times, though Ron Weasley might disagree vigorously!
- Don’t just mug up theories. Learn how to apply it in real life. There’s no point being a class topper and the smartest person in the school if you forget how to fight the Devil’s Snare when it attacks you as you’re under the trapdoor fighting evil in your first year of school.
- Make your own timetable. Hermione taught us the importance of making a timetable months in advance for exam revision and sticking to it. She even makes timetables for Harry and Ron in their OWL (Ordinary Wizarding Level) year.
- Don’t leave homework for later. One thing that is constant in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is Harry’s piled-up homework on the weekends. Taking a few hours out every day to do homework never harmed anyone. Unless of course, you’ve spent the whole evening in detention with Umbridge, in which case, I suppose you have bigger things to worry about.
- Take career counselling seriously. It’s important to know which subjects to focus on and continue with when you have the choice. An Auror, a professional quidditch player, or a role in the Ministry, Hogwarts students meet their heads of houses in the fifth year to discuss what subjects to pursue to reach their dream career.
- Play to your strengths. When preparing for a test, or a competition, playing to your strengths is not just recommended but is vital. Know your strengths and how you can use them innovatively. Professor Moody aka Barty Crouch Junior tells Harry this in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, proving that sometimes even villains can give great advice.
- As Harry and Ginny both learn the hard way with the diary of Tom Riddle, don’t blindly trust what is there in your book. Use your brains and common sense to guide yourself.
- Sometimes, the content of your textbooks can change, like it happened with the Defence against the Dark Arts syllabus at Hogwarts in Year 5. At these times, and all others, it helps to read whatever you can get your hands on. Absorb multiple perspectives and theories. Form your own opinions.
- And finally. There is nothing that chocolate can’t solve. One of Harry’s (and my) favourite professors, Remus Lupin, taught us this simple maxim. Keep the chocolate handy.
Keep these tips in mind for your study sessions and you will ace them much like Hermione!