Not Slytherin, Eh?

In which it’s all here in my head; there’s no doubt about that.


To my dear reader,

One of my earliest memories is not of a sight, but of a sound; namely, the sound of Jim Dale’s voice reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. My cassette tapes of the Harry Potter audiobooks were precious treasures to me, and listening to them brought me endless pleasure. The lilt of Jim Dale’s voice, the character he drew from the dialogue, and variety of voices he was capable of fascinated me, inspiring my love for stories and the human voice.

The Harry Potter series has deeply shaped my generation, and like so many of my peers, I asked myself which Hogwarts house I would be sorted into – brave Gryffindor, loyal Hufflepuff, wise Ravenclaw or ambitious Slytherin. Like so many of my peers, I assumed myself to be a Gryffindor. This was, in retrospect, a foolish assumption.

Let us not be too harsh on young Daniel; in those first books of the series, the world seemed so black and white. Gryffindors were the protagonists and heroes – who wouldn’t want to be among them? Gryffindors were courageous and noble – who wouldn’t want to have those qualities?

But as I grew older, I realized how goal-oriented I was. I loved completing tasks, making plans and being in charge. Being in Gryffindor was the stuff of chivalrous heroes, and I had proved myself much too irascible and irreverent to be chivalrous or a hero. Well, I thought, Slytherin seems to fit me like a glove.

It was not until an activity in my current Education 419 class, American Schools Inside and Out, that I questioned this assumption. This was because of a short quiz the class took provided by the company ViaStrengths, which analyzed fairly typical questions about daily organizational habits and work-related practices to give a list of ranked personal strengths. As the list, now posted to my bedroom wall, dictates, my number one was “Love of Learning.”

This quality as my greatest strength explains a great deal. It explains why I identified with the character of Hermione Granger, why I enjoy libraries so, and why I rarely enjoy anything that doesn’t intellectually stimulate me. Lucky me, the professor of this class – Dr. John Woodward – informed us that this trait is considered highly desirable by employers. But this is not why seeing this result pleased me so.

It pleased me because it made me realize that I have always been a Ravenclaw. Trivial or foolish as this realization may seem, it has been of great benefit as I begin the search for that elusive adventure, Adult Life. I can see now that, whatever I do with myself, I can only be happy if I am always learning. As Jim Dale once told me in an audiobook, “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest pleasure…”


With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert