Andrew Slack

Andrew Slack

Executive Director, Cofounder & Creator, Harry Potter Alliance

To my mind, learning is about appreciating what is here right now. That means...

1

We must respect that every member of a learning community is learning right now.

This includes the teachers, the students, the staff, the administrators, the parents, and everyone who impacts that community. Students will respond better to their learning if they see that everyone is approaching them and each other with curiosity.

2

Right now, everyone in a learning community is part of the arc of history.

Everything that everyone has ever done in the past is part of a complex narrative that has helped us arrive at this present point. History (that includes history that is made by people: social, political, cultural/artistic and history that is ecological: chemical, geologic, evolutionary, etc); the story of the arts, histories, sciences, and the technologies at our fingertips are influencing are world right here, right now.

3

How we imagine what we want our future to be like individually and collectively will determine where we go as a species.

We all have the exciting honor to make decisions individually and to organize each other collectively to see if we can elevate the human condition. How we approach this opportunity will influence not only the next generation but of the planet itself. We have a tremendous opportunity right here, right now, and we need all hands on deck to find their strengths and negotiate their weaknesses so that we can work together to make this happen. That means that every member of our learning community is essential and important—ourselves included.

4

Each of us is the hero of our own story right here and right now.

And essential to learning is appreciating the stories of heroes—particularly the ones we are going to look at in blockbuster books, TV shows, and movies. Every learning community should include the story of the heroes we love and then use those to help us learn more and imagine better as we in turn become the heroes we have been dreaming of being. It opens our minds and hearts to work with material to which our hearts and minds have already been opened. Joseph Campbell and his ideas on the Hero's Journey help understand how we can be the hero of our own story; how we can collectively be heroes as a community; and how we can learn from the stories of myth. Stories matter: our individual stories, our collective stories, and our mythological stories. They are inextricably and intricately connected.

5

Our thinking, feeling, and physical reality right here, right now needs to be learned and focused on through mindfulness.

Mindfulness is not weird. It's simply turning the video camera from being directed at the outside world to being directed at ourselves—to witnessing ourselves in the moment as if we were in a movie. Learning to witness ourselves—our thoughts, feelings, and bodies exactly as they are—will help with problem solving, with intellectual puzzles and endeavors, and with intimacy and relationships. It will also help ensure that we remain members of a thriving, active community of learning.

The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.

Biography

Andrew created and co-founded the Harry Potter Alliance. Known for his inspirational speaking at dozens of Harry Potter fandom events, he has given keynote addresses at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, the Millennial Mega Mashup, TEDx Talk in Rome, Educating Our Democracy in the Digital Age hosted by former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Futures of Entertainment, National Conference for Media Reform, the Annenberg Presidential Learning Center, and symposiums at MIT, Brandeis, and Tufts University. He has also written for the LA Times, a cover story for CNN.com , the Huffington Post (which in 2010 named him “Greatest Person of the Day”), and the forward to “Dear Mister Potter.” He currently serves on the Advisory Board of both "Time Tribe" and "The International Quidditch Association."

In his prior career, Andrew performed comedy at hundreds of colleges, produced, cowrote, and costarred in three videos that have been seen more than twelve million times, and wrote comedy for the owners of the Red Sox, the bassist for Aerosmith, and William Shatner. Trained at an acting conservatory in London, he has taught theater and creative writing workshops in both the US and Northern Ireland. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University, Andrew is dedicated to the building of a movement that harnesses the energy of popular culture, modern myth, and social media to transform our lives both personally and collectively.