This is part of my Road of Trials series in which I am chronicling my effort to plan a Hero’s Journey based Lesson in my 11th Grade HIS202: American History from 1877 to the Present. Click Here to see Part 1 Introduction and Part 2 Call to Adventure
Quick Refresher Diagram on the Hero’s Journey Monomyth:
Meeting the Mentor / Supernatural Aid
Most Hero’s Journey stories begin in the ordinary world and often the hero initially refuses the call. Often they are convinced to go on the journey by a mentor – Luke and Obi-Wan, Gandalf and Frodo Baggins – that both convince them to go on the quest and provide them with the initial tools to adapt to the new fantastical questing world. In this case I think the best “Mentor” in the Harry Potter Series is Hagrid.
The mentor often introduces the hero to the new world. Hagrid rescues Harry from the Dursleys and literally takes him on his first trip into the wizarding world at Diagon Alley. Mentors provide the first tools for the quest. Hagrid helps Harry obtain his first wand and gifts Harry his pet the owl, Hedwig. An important part of the Mentor is that they act as a teacher in the new fantastical world and may even develop a parent/child relationship with the hero. Many people jump to claim Dumbledore as the Mentor and that may be true but Hagrid clearly is the teacher throughout the first half of Sorcerer’s Stone as he introduces Harry to the wizarding customs like owl delivery, wizarding money, and especially his parents. It is also Hagrid that is most like a father to Harry throughout the 7 books. While Dumbledore is cold and dare I say manipulative, Hagrid invites Harry and his friends to tea, warns him about the Dragons in the Triwizard Cup, and is the “real” transporter during the Battle of the Seven Potters during Order of the Phoenix. Hagrid is the father figure Harry never had. Dumbledore is the Supernatural Aid. An otherworldly guide full of mystical power that gives knowledge, advice, and weapons. Dumbledore explains the mirror of erised, guides Harry to understanding the Horcruxes, and in Chamber of Secrets provides the Sorting Hat, Phoenix, and Gryffindor’s Sword to defeat the Basilisk. Both are important parts in tackling the Road of Trials and Crossing the Threshold.
The Classroom “Mentor”
For this chronicle I am working through a Hero’s Journey Quest Lesson based around the theme of the 1900s Civil Rights Movement starting in the Gilded Age and lasting through the Modern Era. The delicate part of this topic is to treat the material respectfully and not ask anyone to role-play traumatic historical incidents. This may be game-like but it is a serious subject that must not fall into stereotype or become too playful.
With that at the forefront of the conversation I believe the “mentor” character will be revealed after the Call to Action as local archivist that turns out to have been the writer of the initial email. This archivist has family history connecting back to the Gilded Age Civil Rights era and the artifact that is now in the possession of a “Big Bad”. They will introduce the students to the challenges in the road of trials and provide the first “weapons” which will be superpowers tied into dice rolling mechanics. Communications will be handled either through the initial Email address or through a Google Site that will have pages that will be revealed to the student as they successfully complete quest objectives.
Mr. Powley (me) will take on the role of “Supernatural Aid” – the Wizened Sage that can provide knowing advice and guidance through the quest. In this role I can remain out of the storyline directly and allow students to explore and work at their own pace. This also means an uncomfortable bit of classroom release on my part. Students may choose to reject ALL of my Calls to Adventure but those that do answer the call will need time to quest. My initial planning will involve allowing students that are adventuring to bypass my daily plans and follow their own Hero’s Journey Questing Path. Those that refuse the calls will remain in the mundane and ordinary. I will provide lessons that focus on the “content of the week”. They will earn grades and demonstrate learning but it will be the broad and shallow course that I select an not the deeper more choice oriented action of the Hero’s Journey.