Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

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Potter-Palooza: Hogwart’s is the Worst School Ever

I have seen people make comments, hopefully in a joking manner, that they wish they could attend Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There is even an option on Facebook to list your school as that. Now, I know it is all in good fun, but after re-watching the Harry Potter films this week, I can’t understand why anyone would want to go to that school. It has to be the worst school a parent could possibly send their child to.

For the past ten years, I have worked to varying degrees in professional education, specifically at the secondary level. From that perspective, I’ve noticed several things that take place in the Harry Potter films that I found amusing on how terrible Hogwart’s actually is as a institution of learning. Before I go further, I would clarify that I am not bashing on the films or the characters. I realize everything is fiction. My comments are entirely tongue-in-cheek and not meant to be taken seriously. Hopefully that will quell the hate mail I’ll get from Potter-heads.

Lets look at the big things. Each year, Hogwart’s seems to routinely come under some sort of insane danger where children are getting terrified, violently hurt, or killed. Monsters are regularly let loose on school grounds. There is a forbidden dark forest (with several dangerous magical creatures) that no one is allowed to enter that sits right outside the place. It has several hidden passage ways and chambers that the staff doesn’t even know about. Horrifying creatures that are meant to protect for protection easily confused serial killers with students. Giant rooms with random gadgets and potential weapons are just laying around where anyone can get to them. The school actively organizes and encourages students to engage in dangerous activities that can potentially kill students. I’d love to see Hogwart’s brochure: “Come to Hogwart’s and be scarred for life!”

Next we have to look at what the students are studying. Granted, this is a school to learn about magic. Naturally, the classes are about various magic-related things. However, do they learn actual subjects that will get them somewhere in life? For example, does Harry and his friends learn things like math, history, civics, English, or (real) science? In the wizard world, can one get by on a 5th grade education? What do letters home read like? “Hi mom. Wee r lerning good stuf. Luv yo!” Then again, this might explain My Immortal.

Those two are just nitpicky things and, in the case of my first point, the films actually poke some fun at the recurring dangers. The thing that I was most amused with is the fact that the teachers at Hogwart’s do absolutely terrible things to their students and attention is never called to it. Besides continually exposing them to danger, the teachers have encouraged bullying, pitted students against one another, used students for their one manipulations, employed discipline through cruel and unusual punishment, forcibly manhandle students, hold grudges against students, openly show favoritism, and verbally put them down. I don’t know much about the British school system (which Hogwart’s loosely based on), but I can’t think the expected behavior of teachers is not too different from what is in the States. If a teacher demonstrated any of the above, they would likely be fired or at least find their job in jeopardy. Then again, perhaps standards are not that high. After all, they did hire someone as a professor who was previously expelled as a student from the school.

On the plus side, they do communicate through the lost art of owl. That’s got to account for something.



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