Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Is a Hogwarts education all it's cracked up to be?

Spoilers? You betcha.

I've been obsessing thinking about the Harry Potter series again, and saw the mention in JKR's interview with the Today Show that she saw Harry as the head of Aurors, possibly giving occasional talks in Defense Against the Dark Arts class at Hogwarts. Ever since book 4, I've sort of seen Harry eventually getting the DADA job, solidified in book 5 when he leads Dumbledore's Army, and even moreso with the revelations about Riddle's thwarted desire to teach at Hogwarts. Harry is the anti-Voldemort -- and I see his future as following the path that Voldemort couldn't. He marries, has kids, and (in my opinion) should be a teacher.

Which got me thinking: how good were the teachers at Hogwarts? Hagrid and Trelawny specifically struck me as not very good instructors. Snape, while certainly knowledgeable about his subject matter, really bothered me because he treated his students in such a prejudiced manner. From day one, he clearly favored the Slytherins and went out of his way to antagonize Harry and the Grifs.

McGonegal seems pretty cool. The History of Magic professor was so dull I can't even remember his name. He was a ghost, right? And the long line of undesirables teaching DADA... well, that's part of the curse.

Now, granted, this is a children's book series, written roughly from Harry's perspective, and I understand that between the ages of 11 and 17, most of these kids wouldn't really like or appreciate their teachers. But really, this seems like Hogwarts (or its tenure and hiring system) needs a major overhaul. Hiring Neville to teach Herbology seems a step in the right direction.

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Blogger Neel Mehta said...

Not that you asked, but HP Lexicon lists past and present Hogwarts instructors. Binns is the ghost who taught History of Magic. (And why not? He was probably there when the events happened.)

The movies only show McGonagall in class twice, once to scold Harry and Ron's lateness and once to go off-topic about the Chamber of Secrets. Not having read the books from a teacher's perspective, I'm curious as to hear you evaluate her methods there.

In Dumbledore's defense, his decision to hire Trelawney was not based on her teaching abilities. But yeah, based on her and Hagrid, the headmaster does seem uniquely interested in some kind of teaching outreach program. Qualifications based on life experiences rather than training.

One wonders if he would have ever considered Arabella Figg to teach Muggle Studies.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Quinn said...

McGonagall appeared at least to me to be a hard-ass (usually a good trait, I have to say now) but was very willing to help Harry achieve his goal of being an Auror. Although that was mainly to piss off Umbridge (always a good trait, I have to say.)

8:48 PM  
Blogger Neel Mehta said...

You know, with that title, I thought this post could just as easily been about the actual education that these fictional students got. When exams are cancelled in the second year, and the Triwizard Tournament takes up your fourth year, is a pair of entrance exams really all they need to survive in an uncertain world? It's kind of like Muggle education. No wizard left behind...

12:21 AM  
Blogger Jade said...

Flitwick always seemed good for charms, and we didn't hear much about muggle studies or Hermione's arithmancy or ancient runes studies, but it appears there was a lot to teach. Still, how hard could the studying be if Colin could be petrified for an entire year and still be moved on to the next year at school? (That may explain why he did so poorly in the final battle, now that I think of it)

Harry not being a teacher... I think he would have made a great teacher for DADA, but at the same time even when he was at Hogwarts as a student it was hard to keep him in his seat... always the first to climb down the creepy dark tunnel, you know? He's much more a mover and a shaker, being out there in the field and coming back to lecture now and again is fitting for him.

And as to Hagrid, it seems he was hired out of friendship and loyalty, but also the information he had on magical creatures did turn out to help Harry out of some sticky situations, didn't it? I'm not sure Grubby-plank would have introduced them to hippogriffs and thestrals.

And really, does it matter who taught history? I mean, history is so BORING...

(that was a joke! Don't hit me! Protego! Protego!)

9:26 AM  
Blogger Quinn said...

Jade, your impudence will earn you detention with Professor Umbridge.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Neel Mehta said...

Jade, you don't want that. I still have "I WILL NOT INSULT QUINN" etched on my hand.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Jade said...

Where's a box of Weasley's Whizbangs when you need them? Ooohhh, shiny fireworks! Look!

*ducks and runs*

11:38 PM  

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