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Issues with Hogwarts (from a teacher's perspective)

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Post August 16th, 2017, 11:25 pm

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

MarsUltor wrote: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.


McGonagall is never seen doing any of the things a real housemistress would do.
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Post August 17th, 2017, 6:16 pm

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

Hi and welcome to PF, New Konoiche :).

I'm an almost qualified PSET (Post Secondary Education & Training) English/literacy teacher from the UK, and I love your topic!

New Konoiche wrote: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?


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


1. This was pretty much my experience of going to school in the UK in the 90s.

I don't know about other schools but, as far as I know, my (massive) upper school didn't have specialist counsellors. One of my best friends experienced domestic abuse at the hands of her stepdad and had to give evidence in court. Some of the teachers were very kind and supportive, but they were subject teachers and, as far as I know, the school didn't arrange for my friend to undertake professional counselling.

I've suffered from OCD, depression and anxiety from childhood, but my mental health problems weren't really picked up on at school. I knew that I had depression because my mum and gran also suffered, but I didn't realise that my other problems were due to OCD until I read an article about a woman suffering from a very similar form of the condition when I was 17. At that point, I'd only discussed my phobias and symptoms with my parents, and when I showed them the article, they agreed that I seemed to be suffering from the same illness (which was later confirmed by relevant professions.)

Again, some teachers seemed to notice that I had 'problems' and offered what support they could but, because there was so little training and awareness around mental illness, there was no intervention.

Many people seemed to assume that mental illness could only result from major psychological trauma, whereas I've always believed that my OCD is caused by abnormalities in my brain structure and that it is at least partly responsible for my depression (there is scientific evidence to support this view.) The fact that I came from a loving family and a comfortable home may account for why my conditions were missed while growing up.

2. Again, special educational needs weren't generally well catered for in UK mainstream education in the 90s. Many of the special schools, which specifically catered for children with global learning disabilities, were excellent. However, the kind of support offered to children with SEN varied considerably between mainstream schools. As far as I know, a lot of Specific Learning Difficulties* (SpLD) and high functioning forms of autism went undiagnosed and I'm not sure that many schools were sufficiently equipped to support children affected by these conditions.

Again, this is anecdotal evidence, but my very bright boyfriend was only diagnosed as having ADD a few years ago. As a child/teen, he was frequently accused as being 'academically gifted but lazy'. He now takes medication for his ADD and copes much better.

Regarding the HP universe, we once had a thread (ages ago) that debated the inclusion and provision of support for students with disabilities and SpLDs and I would love to ask JKR about this.

JKR explained somewhere that magical young children have limited control over their powers and that these abilities manifest before a certain age. If I remember correctly, the magical quill at Hogwarts is able to trace all the children with magical abilities and squibs/muggles can't attend Hogwarts because they don't possess any magic.

3. To teach in UK state schools, teachers need a Bachelor's degree (Level 6) with QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) or a Post Graduate Certificate/Diploma (Level 7) in Education. My PGDip qualifies me to teach in Further/Higher Education, but if I want to teach in compulsory education (schools), I can apply for QTLS (which is equivalent to QTS) without having to undertake further training (-at least, I understand this to be the case...)

I don't think you have to have QTS or QTLS to teach in a private school or a business-sponsored academies but, as far as I know, even most private schools/academies prefer their teachers to have teaching qualifications.

In Further Education, you're allowed to teach before you qualify, but you have to be working towards your qualification. You can also teach without a Bachelor's degree if you have/are working towards a Level 5 teaching certificate.

It's a pretty complicated system lol.

In the HP universe, students take OWL exams at the end of their 11th year of education. These are equivalent to the GCSE qualifications taken by muggles at the end of Year 11 and the 'pass' grades are comparable with grades A* to C, the old O Levels (GCEs), and top grade CSEs.

NEWTS (taken at the end of Year 13) are equivalent to A Levels and other Level 3 qualifications. Students are generally expected to have a certain number of GCSEs at grades A*-C or other Level 2 qualifications to qualify for A Level/Level 3 courses.

To qualify for Higher Education (university level education), you need at least 3 level 2 qualifications or the equivalent of 2 level 3s. This website explains the different levels: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121002234537/http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/QualificationsExplained/DG_10039017


* SpLDs include dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and attention deficit disorders.
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Post August 17th, 2017, 6:42 pm

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

Hi Samovila! Thank you for providing some insight into the workings of schools in the UK! I'm sorry that your experience was difficult, but glad that teachers reached out to you! IMO, this is the mark of a really great teacher, someone who goes beyond his/her subject matter to really help a student at the personal level, much like what Lupin did for Harry in his third year.

In the US, we are really lucky to have a focus on Special Education and support for students with mental illnesses, even if some disagree with parts of the system. While it's true that there are cases of over-diagnoses and maybe too much focus on "differentiation" and "student-based learning" (see, for instance: Fidget Spinners), our programs are really good overall.

JKR explained somewhere that magical young children have limited control over their powers and that these abilities manifest before a certain age. If I remember correctly, the magical quill at Hogwarts is able to trace all the children with magical abilities and squibs/muggles can't attend Hogwarts because they don't possess any magic.


Hm, interesting detail! This makes a lot of sense. I wonder if there are other disabilities in magic, less extreme than being a full-on squib? I may be remembering wrong, but didn't Neville say in the first book that his grandmother thought he might have been a squib? Meanwhile, we see him struggle mightily with his magic throughout the first four books, although it's possible this could be explained by his poor confidence. Actually, on the subject of Neville: his Remembrall actually reminds me a bit of something a student with comprehension problems might be allowed to use through an IEP (Individual Education Plan)! Hmm...

Thank you for sharing your experience and I wish you luck in your future teaching career! :)
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Post August 17th, 2017, 8:21 pm

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

1) Samovila; OWLs are at the end of 5th year of education, NEWTs are 7th. Not 11 and 13. Great response, this topic became really good with lots of illuminatin responses.

2) New Konoiche; Neville doesn't lack magical talent, he lacks of self-confidence which he overcame around his 5th year after Bellatrix's escape from Azkaban.
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Post August 17th, 2017, 9:07 pm

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

New Konoiche wrote:Hi Samovila! Thank you for providing some insight into the workings of schools in the UK! I'm sorry that your experience was difficult, but glad that teachers reached out to you! IMO, this is the mark of a really great teacher, someone who goes beyond his/her subject matter to really help a student at the personal level, much like what Lupin did for Harry in his third year.

In the US, we are really lucky to have a focus on Special Education and support for students with mental illnesses, even if some disagree with parts of the system. While it's true that there are cases of over-diagnoses and maybe too much focus on "differentiation" and "student-based learning" (see, for instance: Fidget Spinners), our programs are really good overall.

JKR explained somewhere that magical young children have limited control over their powers and that these abilities manifest before a certain age. If I remember correctly, the magical quill at Hogwarts is able to trace all the children with magical abilities and squibs/muggles can't attend Hogwarts because they don't possess any magic.


Hm, interesting detail! This makes a lot of sense. I wonder if there are other disabilities in magic, less extreme than being a full-on squib? I may be remembering wrong, but didn't Neville say in the first book that his grandmother thought he might have been a squib? Meanwhile, we see him struggle mightily with his magic throughout the first four books, although it's possible this could be explained by his poor confidence. Actually, on the subject of Neville: his Remembrall actually reminds me a bit of something a student with comprehension problems might be allowed to use through an IEP (Individual Education Plan)! Hmm...

Thank you for sharing your experience and I wish you luck in your future teaching career! :)



Thanks xx. Best of luck to you too :).

MarsUltor wrote:1) Samovila; OWLs are at the end of 5th year of education, NEWTs are 7th. Not 11 and 13. Great response, this topic became really good with lots of illuminatin responses.


Sorry- I should have clarified this.

Primary education covers Reception (age 4/5) to Year 6 (students turn 11 at some point during this [b]academic year.) [/b]

The academic year officially runs from 1st September to 31st August of the following year, but students break up for the summer at some point in July and return in early September. This is why Hermione has her 12th birthday close to the beginning of her first year at Hogwarts (Year 7), but Harry doesn't celebrate his 12th until the summer holidays (near the end of his academic year.)

'Secondary education' covers Year 7 to Year 11 (the academic year in which students turn 16.) Therefore, the first year at Hogwarts (a secondary education school) is the children's 7th year in the education system.

Sixth Form or Further Education is the pre-university level education that continues after year 11. Until recently, this was optional, but students now have to remain in education or training for a further 2 academic years (until the end of Year 13), irrespective of the level they are studying at. This can be done at a school-based Sixth Form or a Further Education/Sixth Form College.

When I went through the school system, my city had first, middle and upper schools (some cities retained the old two school system.) The final 2 years of 'primary education' (Years 5 & 6) and the first 2 years of 'secondary education' were studied at 'middle school.' I also had the option of leaving education at the end of Year 11 (but chose to take my level 3 qualifications at the end of Year 13.)

I believe that most cities (including my hometown) have reverted to the primary and secondary system that is shown in the HP books.
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Post August 17th, 2017, 10:45 pm

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

What Samovila said is all true, but as a boarding school Hogwarts should have had counsellors in the 90s. Boarding education in the UK had started to focus more on pastoral care.
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Post August 18th, 2017, 4:39 am

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

You assume British wizards have similar education system to British muggles which is probably wrong. I don't believe they have official education prior to Hogwarts.
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Post August 18th, 2017, 4:36 pm

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

^ That was kind of the impression I got too. Harry obviously went to Muggle school until turning 11 and probably others did this as well. Those out of touch with the Muggle world probably home schooled, as you said earlier.
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Post August 18th, 2017, 5:59 pm

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

New Konoiche wrote:^ That was kind of the impression I got too. Harry obviously went to Muggle school until turning 11 and probably others did this as well. Those out of touch with the Muggle world probably home schooled, as you said earlier.


Read the beginning of Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone and it described Harry getting ready to move from primary school to secondary school (Stonewall) before his admission to Hoigwarts.
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Post August 18th, 2017, 8:00 pm

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

MarsUltor wrote:You assume British wizards have similar education system to British muggles which is probably wrong. I don't believe they have official education prior to Hogwarts.


What does that have to do with what happens when wizards do go to an actual school?
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Post August 30th, 2017, 1:20 pm

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

Oh totally!! Plus the lack of sexual education or health classes. And the difficulty of teaching students where one quarter of the student population hates another quarter on principle. And that you have no parent involvement at all. Holy cow, there is sooooo many problems.
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Post September 18th, 2017, 8:35 pm

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

Personally I think that Hogwarts looks mediaeval as school.

Sure I have quite extreme views about education having studied Erich Fromm, Carl Rogers, Jon Holt and A.S.Neill.

Schools should be like Summerhill, the school that teaches happiness.

Ordinary schools don't even educate, education is another thing.

I think that our children deserve much better.

But of course I can't blame teachers who are expected to follow a system they didn't design and that they can't change.

It's up to parents to see how much schools damage their children and want change.

Let me repeat it, I'm not blaming anyone (parent or teacher) because I believed myself that our "educational" system was fine, until I discovered that it was very far from being fine.

Of course J.K.Rowling couldn't make Hogwarts like Summerhill because almost nobody would have understood.

It would have been too magic! :D

Anyway, as Harry Potter fan, I love Hogwarts and first of all I love the friendship between Ron, Hermione and Harry.
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Post September 23rd, 2017, 9:29 pm

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

YewDawn wrote:Personally I think that Hogwarts looks mediaeval as school.

Sure I have quite extreme views about education having studied Erich Fromm, Carl Rogers, Jon Holt and A.S.Neill.

Schools should be like Summerhill, the school that teaches happiness.

Ordinary schools don't even educate, education is another thing.

I think that our children deserve much better.

But of course I can't blame teachers who are expected to follow a system they didn't design and that they can't change.

It's up to parents to see how much schools damage their children and want change.

Let me repeat it, I'm not blaming anyone (parent or teacher) because I believed myself that our "educational" system was fine, until I discovered that it was very far from being fine.

Of course J.K.Rowling couldn't make Hogwarts like Summerhill because almost nobody would have understood.

It would have been too magic! :D

Anyway, as Harry Potter fan, I love Hogwarts and first of all I love the friendship between Ron, Hermione and Harry.


Summerhill doesn't work for all children, just as Eton or Sevenoaks doesn't.
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Post September 26th, 2017, 7:42 pm

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

There may be many ways to improve schools, sure. It would be good just to have more flexibiliy and have children choose what suits best to them.

Just to have no grades and no homeworks would mean better learning. But certainly, since children are different, different ways to offer them an education would be good,

IMO, standardization is not a good solution.
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Post September 26th, 2017, 9:45 pm

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

YewDawn wrote:There may be many ways to improve schools, sure. It would be good just to have more flexibiliy and have children choose what suits best to them.

Just to have no grades and no homeworks would mean better learning. But certainly, since children are different, different ways to offer them an education would be good,

IMO, standardization is not a good solution.


Oh definitely. Grades pre age 13 are more hurtful than not, as is coed education ages 6-16. Knowing pupils learning styles is something more schools need to do. Homework is a hard one. When used properly and in the right amount it's good. Testing is something else that needs to be figured out. And early years learning is vitally important, though it's too often ignored or done wrong.
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Post September 27th, 2017, 2:25 pm

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

I agree that grades pre age 13 make more harm than good.

It's because they cause fear and fear makes learning more difficult especially for very young children who need to figure out whan their best way tio learn is.

Children pre 13 need to build confidence in their very unique way to learn and fear is not going to help.

It may be interesting to read How Children Learn by John Holt.

Teenagers may be more confident in their way to learn, at least if they were allowed to build such confidence before 13.
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