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Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

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Post August 12th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

Hello,

New here, obviously, so this is my first post!

As an American Middle/High School English teacher (well, okay, technically only a sub at the moment, as I only just received my license!), I have been thinking a lot about Hogwarts and how it holds up as a school, especially after re-reading OotP.

My first question was whether Hogwarts is public or private, but this seemed like a fruitless inquiry, since 1) British schools must operate differently and 2) its a wizarding school, so why follow Muggle rules anyway?

That said, I think there are a few glaring issues with Hogwarts.

1) The lack of counselors: From what we have seen, neither guidance nor grief counselors exist at Hogwarts and this is a shame, as one would think both would be needed. Guidance counselors should be working with students to figure out which magical world career they want to join and which classes would be most beneficial. I know Harry talks to Prof. McGonagal in the fifth book about "career advice," but wouldn't it have been better for him to think about this from the start with the help of someone who's only job at the school is advising students about their futures? As for grief counselors...well, nearly every year classmates are either injured (as in COS) or straight-up killed (Cedric), so you would hope that students close to the attacked (or even those who are just worried) would have someone to talk to. And that's to say nothing of the third year, when Dementors (creatures who JK Rowling straight-up states are meant to represent Clinical Depression!) are placed around the school. IIRC, Dumbledore does state that students can talk with him in POA, but, again, this isn't Dumbledore's job as he has other things to worry about - and besides, students might feel uncomfortable talking to their headmaster about how they are sad. And even without all the drama of a second Wizarding War brewing, there are still all the typical problems for middle school and high school students at a boarding school: homesickness, culture shock (especially for muggle borns, who are leaving their entire world behind and entering uncharted territory!), school work load, issues with friends, and bullying. In short, I think a counselor at Hogwarts would have her work cut out for her, but said work would be extremely necessary!

2) What about SPED?: Now this is a bit of a tricky topic, as Special Education classes aren't required in private schools to the same extent as they are at public schools. Still, most places are required to help struggling students to the best of their abilities and to offer accommodations to some degree. In the wizarding world, "squibs" seem to be individuals with a disability in magic, if you will, so one would hope they get accommodations! (Side note: I'm guessing that since wizards aren't allowed to do magic outside of school, you might not know you are a squib until you officially begin your wizard training. This would account for children of magical parents with no magic themselves being accepted into a prestigious school like Hogwarts). Ignoring the concept of squibs, however, there's nothing to say that "muggle" disorders don't exist in the Potterverse. So, what about a kid with ADHD who has trouble concentrating during one of Prof. Binn's lectures? Or someone with Dyslexia who has trouble keeping up with all the reading? Should that be held against them?

3) The teachers: Firstly, what even qualifies someone to teach at Hogwarts? Hagrid was given the position of Care of Magical Creatures Professor despite never graduating Hogwarts! Here in the US, you must complete teacher training to teach at a public school, while private schools require a minimum of a BA in your subject (though I've rarely heard of anyone without a MA getting a teaching position.) Since wizarding education only seems to go to age 17, shouldn't a Hogwarts diploma be required??? Hagrid clearly knows his subject inside and out, but that doesn't mean he knows how to teach! From what he have seen, there are good teachers at Hogwarts (Prof. Lupin, Sprout, Flitwick and Hagrid's long-term sub to name a few - and maybe McGonagal, although her demeanor seems a lot better suited to college students than middle schoolers), but we also have Prof. Binns, who just lectures and Snape, who plays obvious favorites and bullies his students.

So what does everyone think? Is Hogwarts still a good school? Could it be SPED and counseling are in place but the "Harry filter" keeps us from seeing them?
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Post August 12th, 2017, 8:07 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

Hogwarts as a school is horrible. I've said it before and I'll say it again.
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Post August 12th, 2017, 8:38 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

It seems Hogwarts is semi-private school. Government didn't interfere with school business until they had disagreements about politics. This shows it has some obligations to the Ministry but also it's partially independent.

1) Counselors: I think Heads of Houses were also counselors to the students.

2) Grief counselors: I agree with the need to physcologists. But then, we never saw wizards have that job. Maybe physcology is not known in the wizarding world. Then we can't blame Hogwarts, blame belongs to all wizards.

3) Special education classes didn't seem important to me. Squibs are not accepted to Hogwarts because Hogwarts records every wizard/witch when they are born. It's stated in books. And we never saw a student diagnosed with dyslexia or ADHD. So there are two options; A) Wizards don't have these problems, so all is cool. B) We never saw because Harry didn't see. Books are from Harry's perspective only.

4) Teachers: I partially agree with this. Hagrid was probably the best caretaker for magical creatures after Newt Scamander. Therefore, it is safe to assume he's very capable of dealing with the job. But I also think Hagrid should teach 5th grade and above because his creatures are bit dangerous. Grubbly-Plank can take 4th and below grades.

For rest of the teachers;

*McGonagall is a very very good teacher in my opinion.
*DADA is a cursed job so nobody wants to take it. Nothing to do about that. I believe it became normal after Voldemort's fall.
*Agree with Binns. But this situation is caused by the author specifically. J.K. never liked her history teacher, so she made Binns as boring as flobberworms. I think History of Magic would be great subject. Shame on J.K.
*No defense for Snape. Totally agree with you. He can be Dumbledore's spy against Voldemort, okay. But that doesn't mean he should teach to children. He's the worst teacher Hogwarts seen only after Umbridge (who was appointed forcefully by Ministry, not chosen by Hogwarts).

In the end, you also stated Harry filter. I believe it for SPED issue as I said so.

As my conclusion; I believe Hogwarts have some minor issues in teaching but all in all, it is a great school and much better than all schools you can go in Muggle world. We don't know much about other wizarding schools but I highly doubt one of them is better than Hogwarts. Especially, after the war and reconstruction during Kingsley and Hermione's ministry and Minerva's headmastering.

Great subject, thanks for sharing.
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Post August 12th, 2017, 10:43 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

Harry Potter takes place in the 90s. Mental health was not a big deal....now its TOO big of a deal.
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Post August 12th, 2017, 10:47 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

GinChaser wrote:Harry Potter takes place in the 90s. Mental health was not a big deal....now its TOO big of a deal.


That's another fine perspective. J.K. wrote books in 90s also.
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Post August 12th, 2017, 11:23 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

Ooh, that's a good point, GinChaser and Mars! I always forget when the HP books take place (and yes, as a prospective teacher, I very much agree with the over focus on Special needs/mental health/"differentiation"!) I still think all schools should have a counselor on board, not just for mental disorders (although, certainly for them, too) but for everyone!

Forgot to add: Professor Trawlawney isn't much good, either. She didn't even seem to know her subject matter.
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Post August 13th, 2017, 6:29 am

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

I differ about Treleawney, agree about Divination. She seems like a fraud but all of her predictions became true. She said Harry will die, Harry died in last book. She said Harry's birthday is mid-winter, Harry said it was July and they all laughed. But Voldemort born in mid-winter, and a part of Harry's soul is Voldemort.

But Divination as a subject is meaningless. If you are not a Seer, you cannot do anything. It's absolutely meaningless for a non-Seer student which is always nearly all students.
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Post August 13th, 2017, 8:02 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

MarsUltor wrote:
GinChaser wrote:Harry Potter takes place in the 90s. Mental health was not a big deal....now its TOO big of a deal.


That's another fine perspective. J.K. wrote books in 90s also.


Even waaaaay back then, in the olden days of the 90s, Hogwarts would be considered a failing school. It would be shut down.
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Post August 13th, 2017, 8:05 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

I dunno if its a real class but Snape told Harry when he was doing Occulmency that he must tell everyone else he is doing remedial potions or Snape was just mocking Harry.

Remedial Potions.
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Post August 14th, 2017, 5:20 am

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

Something else I forgot to mention that I believe I have seen brought up before on other sites: Hogwarts teaches ONLY magic courses. What about math? Science? English??? Shouldn't these important in Wizard Education, too? Especially for those who want jobs working with Muggles or those who want to rejoin the Muggle world after graduation (although even if not, one would think basics like writing would be important).
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Post August 14th, 2017, 6:43 am

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

Issues like writing is covered by home-schooling I suppose because all children knew how to write.

But you are right about non-magic courses. There should be geography, history, physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics.
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Post August 14th, 2017, 5:20 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

^ True, but there is a difference between knowing the basics of reading/writing and actually being able to do it well! In the states, you generally start learning how to write argumentative and informative essays in middle school, but you continue learning grammar (which begins in elementary school), how to research and close reading skills through high school. Makes me wonder what Hogwarts teachers look for in their essays - just content or do they also want something properly constructed? Now that I think about it, maybe this is why Harry always takes so long with his homework! He doesn't know how to write an informative essay!

Also, it makes me kind of sad that they don't get to study fiction at Hogwarts :(. Always my favorite part of English class!

Anyways, thanks all for your responses! This is a very exciting topic to me, as you can probably tell! :wink:
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Post August 14th, 2017, 8:56 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

MarsUltor wrote:Issues like writing is covered by home-schooling I suppose because all children knew how to write.

But you are right about non-magic courses. There should be geography, history, physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics.


There's knowing how to write as a ten or eleven year old and knowing how to write. Two very different things. Same with reading. In a way a lot of the problems in the magical government and British world seem very obvious when you think about their "education".
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Post August 14th, 2017, 10:14 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

It upsets me to say but since I am from Turkey and we don't have a proper education system here, Hogwarts didn't feel problematic for me. Come to think of it, education system has some problems about non-magical courses of course.

But again, it is not an issue of Hogwarts I think. We also partially saw Durmstrang and Beauxbatons, they were not different. So this is the Wizarding World. Their life standards and ours are different.

In some ways, theirs are better. In some ways, ours are;

*Mobile phones vs. Owls or even patronuses
*Tons of different sports vs. Quidditch (which is a really great but absurdly unjust sport which J.K. created just for Harry to success)
*Internet vs. standard libraries
*Nuclear bombs vs. 1000 year old unforgivable curses
*Moon Landing vs. no scientific achievement
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Post August 15th, 2017, 1:15 am

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

Actually, we didn't see any other school at work.
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Post August 15th, 2017, 11:31 am

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

Hogwarts is a small school with less than 300 students (ten per year per house is 10 X 7 X 4 = 280) and an equivalent number of teachers. Stuff like guidance counselor and grief counselor are handled by the members of the faculty as needed. Heads of houses function as counselors. That is the problem with education in the US today, too many non-teachers infesting the main office and sucking up funds to pay them.
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Post August 15th, 2017, 3:53 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

I think Hogwarts is normally much bigger than 300. Rowling once stated Hogwarts has around 1000 students. It is obviously much less during Harry's Hogwarts time, mainly the consequence of the First Wizarding War of Britain.

I think there should be at least one physcologist. Counselor, as you say, is covered by heads of houses. And I think Minerva McGonagall was fine for Gryffindor. But kids don't to their teachers about their lives and problems.
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Post August 15th, 2017, 6:25 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

Hmm, never really thought about the size. I guess I always assumed Hogwarts was on the smaller side due to the Sorting Ceremony (imagine sitting through 500 First Years every year!) The movies definitely make the school look bigger (at least space-wise), but does anyone know if they ever say anything about class sizes?

Another note from the movies (POA specifically): they do have a choir lead by Prof. Flitwik! So there are extra-curriculars related to music education, which is nice (music being another conspicuously absent course). Maybe they also have a Drama Club or something along those lines too.

On yet another note, can you imagine being First Years during Prisoner of Azkaban and having to deal with Dementors on top of everything else? Not sure how excited I would be about coming back next year...
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Post August 15th, 2017, 7:13 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

MarsUltor wrote:I think Hogwarts is normally much bigger than 300. Rowling once stated Hogwarts has around 1000 students. It is obviously much less during Harry's Hogwarts time, mainly the consequence of the First Wizarding War of Britain.

I think there should be at least one physcologist. Counselor, as you say, is covered by heads of houses. And I think Minerva McGonagall was fine for Gryffindor. But kids don't to their teachers about their lives and problems.


JKR also stated that she is horrible at maths and the numbers she gives in interviews shouldn't be taken as canon.

As for pastoral care, there is none at Hogwarts. The title Head of House is worthless, at least for Gryffindor. We never see McGonagall doing any of the usual duties a housemaster/mistress would do, let alone a matron or tutors.
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Post August 15th, 2017, 7:35 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

She's bad at Maths, Quidditch is a proof of this.

10 points for every score, 150 points for Snitch. What the ???

Make it 50 points or so, the game will be great.
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Post August 15th, 2017, 11:12 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

Quidditch at least was meant (by Jo) to be frustrating.
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Post August 16th, 2017, 7:55 am

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

MarsUltor wrote:I think Hogwarts is normally much bigger than 300. Rowling once stated Hogwarts has around 1000 students. It is obviously much less during Harry's Hogwarts time, mainly the consequence of the First Wizarding War of Britain.

I think there should be at least one physcologist. Counselor, as you say, is covered by heads of houses. And I think Minerva McGonagall was fine for Gryffindor. But kids don't to their teachers about their lives and problems.


If you read the books, every so often the number ten per class per house pops up. When they were getting their first broomstick riding class in a double class with Slytherin, there were exactly twenty brooms lined up.

There was reference to a double Herbology class with exactly twenty students.
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Post August 16th, 2017, 11:38 am

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

Rowling is really bad at Maths then :)
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Post August 16th, 2017, 5:05 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

As for pastoral care, there is none at Hogwarts. The title Head of House is worthless, at least for Gryffindor. We never see McGonagall doing any of the usual duties a housemaster/mistress would do, let alone a matron or tutors.


That's another good point! Many of the boarding schools I applied to teach at (having an MA in addition to my teaching cert. :wink:) have positions of "dorm mothers," who basically serve as RAs/disciplinarians/counselors to students in need. We see that McGonagall does discipline students (at least taking off points), but I agree we haven't seen her do much else in the way of housemistress. Does she even live in the Gryffindor dorms? Maybe some of the responsibilities falls on the Head Boy and Girl of each house or even the prefects? Or even more obscurely, the House Ghost? So, say you're a homesick first year with a problem with your roommate. I guess you can go get help from...Percy Weasley...or Nearly Headless Nick... :|
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Post August 16th, 2017, 5:42 pm

Re: Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

We already agreed there should be a physcologist in the school. But McGonagall (and presumably all other Heads of Houses) can carry other responsibilities as counselors and disciplinarians.

Head Boy and Head Girl, and also prefects, are supposed to keep students from illegal, forbidden, or dangerous things.

I don't think house ghosts have any relevant thing to do.
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