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Episode 216: Wizarding Education – Flitwick ROCKS

Quills out, new parchment ready, school books fresh from Florish and Blotts; it’s time to focus on school! Join hosts Eric and Alison, with MuggleNet staffer Haley and guest host Carla as they discuss wizarding education at Hogwarts. You’re sure to learn a thing or two!

On Episode 216 we discuss…

→ Similarities between Hogwarts O.W.L.s, N.E.W.T.s and Muggle aptitude tests
→ The ever-increasing difficulty of Charms, Transfiguration and Potions in the series
→ Omission of regular school subjects such as math, language, etc.
→ Tertiary education – the lack thereof? – in wizarding society
→ The benefits of *Independent Magical Study*
→ Those who teach! Is Lupin the best? What about Flitwick?
→ The importance of trust for learning in an educational setting
→ Students who got jobs immediately after Hogwarts. There are more than you think!

To listen to the show, simply click the player below or direct download the episode. You can also subscribe to us on iTunes. For more information about the podcast and to find out how to be on the show, check out our Be On The Show! page.

Skype users can send us a message to username AlohomoraMN. And as always, be sure to continue the discussion below!

Listen Now: | Download


RECAP: EPISODE 215

On this recap we discuss…

→ The flexibility of Time a.k.a. Schrodinger’s Snape
→ Does Jo regret calling Cursed Child canonical?
→ Delphi’s redeeming qualities
→ Alison and Eric face off (and come to an agreement!)

Listen Now: | Download

  • travellinginabluebox

    I am still listening, but being a German myself I know how much our system differs from the US and UK, so I thought I’d share a graphic with you guys, that sums up the German education:

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-u28PyA9iVrQ/Undi2sRbtsI/AAAAAAAAOuA/wEiUrO4Skdk/s1600/Basic+structure+of+the+ES+in+Germany.png

    So, we DO sort too soon, but there are ways to get to the same level in the end no matter which school you went to. I know a couple of people who went to “Hauptschule” (the lowest level school) and still managed to get there A-levels and went to University and now are running their own companies. So it is not as dramatic as it looks :-)

    • servus :) I’m glad you brought this up, I didn’t get around to mentioning it! The system’s definitely not as black-and-white as I may have made it sound.
      Though I would argue that – while it’s slowly getting better – there are other factors that hold many people back from climbing that ladder up, so to speak. They’re convinced it’s too difficult for them to manage, or that it takes too long, or that it’s too much effort to invest in something they aren’t 100% committed to. Most people I know who took that path via Haupt- or Realschule chose it later in life or really struggled with the choice, which is a damn shame.
      But like I said – it’s getting better!!

  • travellinginabluebox

    I would disagree with Hagrid being only a strategic position as a teacher. From what we heard of his predeccesor, they had a quite similar teaching style and shared the huge love for beasts. But I would not say that Hagrid doesn’t know his stuff for the class, or at least I didn’t gather that from reading. I would say, that he is lacking teaching skills like how to teach material in a SAFE way, but knowledge wise he is definitely not lacking in his subject.

    But teachers not having a proper training for teaching is a big issue, but I would probably compare the Hogwarts professors more to university professors than teachers. The style of teaching is definitely more fitting for older students and therefore I would see more similarities with university professors. They have to write essays and the professors seem to have an either complete hands-on teaching style or what is called practical lessons, or they are just lecturing. And from how I remember my school days, that is a huge difference and to be honest if I had been confronted with the workload and lectures as an 11 year-old I do not know if I had coped as well.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      I agree that Hagrid’s appointment probably wasn’t just strategic. I think one of Hagrid’s biggest obstacles in being a successful teacher was his own confidence, or lack thereof. He lets himself get rattled by people like Malfoy, Umbridge, and angry parents, and as soon as his confidence is shaken in that way his lessons go downhill.
      Growing up with both my parents being teachers, I know that confidence is initially something a lot of beginning teachers struggle with. Standing in front of a room full of teenagers can be a rather intimidating experience. My mother says middle schoolers in particular are the worst in this respect; they tend to push boundaries more often, be rather judgemental, and be very impulsive in their actions (like blurting out snarky comments, or being rude to a hippogriff). These are all things that are very natural for that age group, but still add an extra hurdle to jump over when actually trying to teach them. So things like knowing how to take charge of a classroom, understanding how to deal with the unique challenges and needs of specific age groups, and adapting a teaching style into something that works for both the teacher and the students, often takes time for new teachers figure out. Hagrid wasn’t a “bad” teacher, just an inexperienced one.

      I think over time, as Hagrid gained more experience and had more successful lessons, he would have eventually gained the confidence to have a more authoritative command over his class, while at the same time appealing to their natural curiosity about the creatures he is so passionate about. He did manage some very good classes- the Niffler lesson was particularly standout. He definitely got the students excited, they all willingly participated, and they clearly learned something, as Lee Jordan used that knowledge towards the brilliant idea of putting one in Umbridge’s office. A few more of those under his belt, and I think he would easily be a favorite among many students.

  • travellinginabluebox

    Depending on how detailed Muggle Studies is taught, that could potentially be toughest subject at Hogwarts. Just imagine explaining someone science and electricity or even space travel who has not ever been in touch with it or knows the devices etc. It would be all completely alien to them and even for us who grow up with computers etc. it is still very hard to understand how those devices do work.
    But I would assume that Muggle Studies is not taught with that much detail.

  • SpinnersEnd

    How did they get the animals for their classes?

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      Well, presumably they use their own pets sometimes (Scabbers and Trevor) which is…concerning.

      I’d like to think that maybe McGongall transfigures random objects into animals before class for the students to then use, because then they wouldn’t be practicing on “real” animals. And maybe that is a way of adjusting the difficulty depending on the students grade levels. So maybe for beginners it is easier to change a raven into a teacup if it were already a teacup to begin with. For an older student they’d be changing the raven into something new rather than its original form, which might be an added layer of difficulty. I dunno, just speculating.

      • Huffleclaw

        I like that thought, ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy. It takes some of the moral questions out of transfiguration classes. Perhaps McGonagall has a large collection of tea cups, snuff boxes, and needles for use in classes and transfigures them just before the students come to class that day.

      • SpinnersEnd

        I like this idea! But somehow it doesn’t seem practical. What would happen in the real world if you needed to turn a real raven into a tea cup? (though I’m not sure why you would actually need to do this. It reminds me a bit of some of the things we learn in Muggle school….)

        Maybe this is why Ron had trouble in Transfiguration. If he was practicing on Scabbers, thinking he was a real rat, he would have a much harder time changing him into something else because he’s human (a much more complex creature) and not a real rat.

        • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

          Yeah, thats a good point. Maybe the thing with transfiguration isn’t that you specifically need to learn to turn a raven into a teacup, but that doing so just gives experience and understanding of the process. So the more things you turn into other things, and by increasing complexities, the better you are able to perform any transfigurations, even if you weren’t taught that specific one. I liken it to learning to play music. You start with scales and simple pieces and learn how to play the instrument. Over time you learn harder pieces and learn more about reading music. Once you learn those things, ideally you can pick up a piece of music that you haven’t been taught or heard and play it or teach yourself how to play it,i.e. sight reading. So maybe you might never learn in class to change an armchair into a rabbit specifically, but should still be able to do it once you’ve reached a certain level in transfiguration abilities. Still though, it would seem that at some point you would need to practice changing a real animal, unless a pre-transfigured one has enough of the same properties as a real one.

          I’ve assumed the same thing regarding Ron’s difficulties too. He couldn’t change a rat into something else, because it wasn’t actually a rat and he didn’t know it. I’d agree it probably gets significantly more difficult once your using actual people.

      • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

        That’s a good thought, and would make it somewhat more palatable. But … and this is just my personal view, and a general comment that I have to put out there for consideration … the whole concept of transfiguring an animal is problematic, and moreover the fact that Hogwarts is essentially teaching kids that non-human animals exist for humans to use for our own purposes, however dubious those purposes may be (I mean, it’s not like these kids are learning how to transfigure ravens into a cure for cancer … which reminds me, snuffboxes? What kind of message are you sending, McGonagall? Might not a biscuit tin be slightly more age-appropriate?). The concept remains the same: Kids, animals are a valid method for practicing or experimenting with your magical powers — no matter that you’re totally inexpert and likely to disfigure the poor little thing. These same issues exist in our Muggle education (dissecting animals in biology class, for example, and animal experiments at higher levels of study — again, debatable topics, but worth thinking about). She’s not the only guilty teacher, either: Flitwick sends Trevor flying around the room in the first book; Hagrid is an active trader on the animal commodities market; there’s Sprout and the Mandrake quandary (although they’re plants); and of course, they use tons of animal parts in Snape’s class. I get the literary purpose, since witches are traditionally associated with using animal ingredients (“Eye of newt and toe of frog”) and even in fairy tales like Cinderella they change animals into people or objects. But I can’t get used to how casually it’s presented in a book that’s generally more “realistic” than a fairy tale.

        • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

          Yeah, I think the whole animal use thing is meant to just be written off as part of the whimsy of magic but when we actually think about it, is problematic for the reasons you mention. I’m reminded of a conversation I had with one of my doctor friends about using animals for lab research, and funnily enough his arguement in favor was that, in terms of medical science, using animals was for “the greater good” (sound familiar?) to which my response was to ask what makes human life more important than a rat’s. This led to a much deeper philosophical and moral debate, but I think the same discussion could be applied here. While turning ravensinto snuffboxes and the like isn’t the same as cancer research, value and practicality wise, it does serve a purpose in terms of giving students practice. Otherwise they’d be left with practicing those transfiguration on people first, which is a whole other ethical issue, especially with young students who simply don’t have the skill to do those kind of transfigurations. The results would be disastrous. I am running on the assumption though, that there may not be much call within the wizarding world to turn animals into inanimate objects, but it does seem that human transfiguration is a valueable skill. And of course, this raises a whole other set of ethical questions, when it comes to one person transfiguring another into an animal against their will, a la Moody/Crouch Jr and ferret Draco.

  • SpinnersEnd

    In defense of Hagrid as a teacher: I think he does a passable job, certainly on par with teachers I had in high school. He is passionate about his subject, which counts for a lot. He is knowledgeable about his subject. The only thing he really lacked was classroom management skills.

    Hagrid actually puts on some (operative word here) very nice lessons. The Hippogriffs would have been a good lesson if Malfoy hadn’t deliberate mucked it up. The bowtruckles, nifflers and unicorns he did well. The one glaring misjudgement here is the skrewts, which seem like wish fulfillment. We see his lessons improve dramatically over the course of his teaching career.

    I realized that a lot of these lessons were dangerous, but it seems that most magical lessons are. And especially since this is a world in which teacher training is not required, Hagrid did well. When he’s in a situation where he does not have a way to gain these skills, how can you fault him for figuring out his classroom management style on the fly?

  • AurorPhoenix

    In regards to the Astronomy discussion, I would imagine it is one of those base subjects that feed into all other subjects.

    Like Alison and, I believe, Haley mentioned, potion ingredients have to be picked at certain times. Also, in one of those pottermore books I believe it is mentioned a full moon and timing plays a large role in becoming an animagus. The stars obviously play a large role in Divination.

    I am sure there are plenty of other things in other subjects that we have not heard that depend on stars, Moons, positions, and how the infinite combination of all celestial bodies’ positions affect certain things. LOL, maybe that is why they write star charts every year. Maybe year two was star charts and their affect on Divination and Potions. Then in year five it’s Transfiguration and Herbology, etc.

    • Minerva the Flufflepuff

      It also seems like Astronomy and History of Magic are the only two purely academic subjects, where magic isn’t used at all, so even a muggle could participate. So I’m sure that they form a lot of the theoretical background for the more practical subjects.

  • Huffleclaw

    Loved this episode. Interesting discussion.
    I had a thought about curricula. Perhaps what the students learn is set not by standards and bureaucrats but by cultural norms. From Pottermore we know three schools have reputations for particular branches of magic which they specialize in. Durmstrang has a reputation for dark arts, as mentioned in the episode, so that makes me wonder if Rowling is drawing on East European mythology and lore. I don’t know enough about eastern Europe folklore, but that is were creatures such as vampires and werewolves come from. Perhaps the “dark arts” are just a particularly Slavic brand of magic.
    Additionally Uagadou is said to specialize in transfiguration, alchemy and astronomy. It would seem to me that there are long-standing cultural preferences for these types of magic. Similarly with Castelbruxo, which Pottermore tells us specializes in herbology and magizoology which makes sense given its location in the Amazon rainforest. (Personal Headcanon alert!) I see Latin American wizarding society as being heavily influenced by indigenous cultures – as shown by the Aztec temple edifice of the school. So again, I think local culture plays a strong role in what students are taught – the values of that particular wizarding society.
    In conclusion I think it boils down to the fact that wizarding Britain is very medieval so its education system borrows heavily from medieval systems. Hogwarts (and the other wizarding schools) teach students what they need to perform magic outside of school. Then it is up to the student to apply it and go through an apprentice/work-study system as was mentioned in the episode several times.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      You have a very valid point here. I think we can draw parallels to the real world and how culture affects education. In most of the developed world we see a lot of similarities in core subjects that are taught, but the exact context of those lessons varies with cultural perspective. For example, the education I received as an American about WW2 is probably very different from what a German student, or French, or Japanese students might get, just because each nation draws from it’s own perspective of and roles within those events. Growing up both below and above the Mason-Dixon line, I can definitely attest to variances in how and what even Americans are taught about our own civil war, depending upon the region in which it is being taught. We tend to be taught about things that are considered relevant to our own societies. For example, American schools teach British and American literature, but you’d be hard pressed to find a class in standard education that focuses solely on Eastern Lit.

      Plus, different cultures place varying degrees of emphasis on formal education. There are indigenous societies who remain isolated from modern society, for whom formal education isn’t even a thing. For them, learning comes through the skills and traditions passed from one generation to the next. The focus of learning is more practical- skills like obtaining food, constructing tools, understanding local flora and fauna and their uses, etc. In other societies, the lack of formal education has a more nefarious history- the less educated a group of people are kept, the easier it is to keep them subservient. And the opposite is true, where formal “education” is used by colonial powers to “civilize” foreign societies and wipe out the original culture. So we can see throughout human history how education is impacted by historical and cultural context. I don’t think it would be any different for wizards.

      • Huffleclaw

        Indeed. We also know that families have certain subjects that they deem more important than others, ie Augusta Longbottom urging Neville to take Transfiguration over the “soft option” of Charms.

  • daveybjones999 .

    We actually do get an answer as to what happens if you fail an O.W.L course. It turns out that you can actually study the subject again in 6th year and retake that O.W.L. because Crabbe and Goyle retake Defense Against The Dark Arts. We learn this in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince during Slughorn’s Christmas Party, when Snape confronts Draco about his mission and Harry follows them. Snape mentions that skulking about the castle without lookouts being foolish and Draco retorts that he’d normally have Crabbe and Goyle if they weren’t in detention. Snape says that they’re in detention with him because if they want to pass their DADA O.W.L.s this time they’ll have to work much harder. So it turns out that maybe depending on the course, and the teacher’s willingness to reteach them the class, you can actually eventually pass your O.W.L. and potentially take that N.E.W.T. course.

  • Minerva the Flufflepuff

    I live in the UK now but was born and brought up in Germany. When I first read the books as a child I thought Rowling had made up this whole amazing school system. I only realised much later that the concepts of school houses, prefects, uniforms, end of year exams, intra-school sports tournaments, elective subjects, calling students by surname, OWLs and NEWTs – all the quirky things I thought were so weird and unique – were entirely based on the UK school system. Would have loved to hear more of these parallels in the episode.
    (Also, seeing children wearing ties still creeps me out)

    • Rosmerta

      Although I didn’t attend a public school, the Hogwarts system is very familiar to most UK students, although slightly archaic.
      Rosie has clarified on Twitter today, how the Hogwarts exams relate to the muggle ones.
      As for ties, my children have worn them since Year 5, so aged 9 or 10 – and continue to do so right through to Year 11. In 6th Form (years 12 & 13) dress code in business wear!
      I think there must be classes at Hogwarts that we don’t hear about to conform to National Curriculum & some sort of tertiary education whether formal or via internships/apprenticeship.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        When I briefly lived in England, I found the school dress codes to be rather refreshing and practical compared to the U.S., where they are often more sexist than practical. On the bus going to work every morning I thought all the younger kids in their ties were rather adorable. With the older students it was nice to see them already learning a sense of appropriate work attire. Here, it is insane what some young people come into work wearing, thinking it totally appropriate. I’ve had to send employees home to change for wearing torn jeans and stained, wrinkled, t-shirts- and that is just in the restaurant industry, where the standard is much more lax than the business world.

        • Minerva the Flufflepuff

          Interesting to hear someone else’s perspective on it – my school, like most German schools as far as I’m aware, never had a dress code. In my opinion it’s fine to let teens dress however they want, let them go through phases of crazy hair colours and fashion choices they’ll later cringe at. There’s enough time for toning down and dressing professionally when they’re adults. I’m glad I got to experiment with clothes in an environment where it didn’t really matter, and I think of myself as a reasonably adjusted adult… couldn’t do up a tie if my life depended on it though 😛

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Really? No code at all? I wonder if your culture in general just has better ideas about dress, like your teens are better equipped to dress the way they want to without it being problematic? Most schools here only have a pretty basic code- one that would seem intuitive yet apparently not- no drug related or vulgar prints, no sagging pants, skirts musn’t be too short, that sort of thing. Most don’t say anything about having dyed hair or outrageous styles of clothing and the like. For others it gets way more detailed, without assigning an actual uniform. One of my high schools experimented with doing away with the dress code entirely- we had girls showing up scantilly clad like they were going to a nightclub, students that didn’t even bother changing out of their pajama pants, guys whose pants were so loose and low they could barely walk, etc. No joke, one guy fell down the stairs and broke a leg because his pants were sagging too low. The worst was the kid who wore a neo-nazi emblazoned shirt, which essentially started an all-out brawl in the hallway. Administration brought back the dress code after that.

            I’m all for letting kids be kids for as long as possible, but I do think learning to dress appropriately for any given situation is a valueable life skill. Learn that at school, but be free to experiment with whatever fasion they want at home. Ideally, it would be taught in the home, but unfortunately, at least in America, those lessons aren’t always passed on. School seems like a good starting point to me, but with a bit more room for personal expression. A lot of problems with American dress codes are that they unfairly target girls, and essentially shame them for having bodies, rather than actually serving any purpose as far as teaching kids how to dress professionally or what is appropriate situationally. American dress codes tend to fall into this useless middle ground, that is both unfairly stifling and teaches nothing except things like “It’s the girls fault for wearing that shirt if the boys can’t control themselves staring at their cleavage”. I’ve supported the concept of school uniforms just for simplicity’s sake, since we apparently can’t figure out how to just let kids dress themselves without it being an issue.

          • Rosmerta

            Always thought school uniform makes sense, creates a sense of belonging, unity and it doesn’t matter about class or personal finances. I would guess that some children may get bullied due their clothes not being the right fashion in a non-uniform school. Although that doesn’t stop everyone laughing at Ron’s dress robes, seriously what was Molly thinking?!
            Kids have plenty of free time to express themselves, my daughter dyes her hair (temporarily!) In the holidays!

          • Minerva the Flufflepuff

            I always thought that was one of the best arguments for school uniforms – the sense of unity and doing away with materialistic bullying. I went to school before smartphones were really a thing though, so I wonder if they are used as status symbols in UK schools, rather than trainers (Buffalos, obvs) and watches (Baby G, anyone?) like in my day.

          • Minerva the Flufflepuff

            I think my school was just very laid back about this. I only remember one instance where a student’s clothes got him in trouble – he was wearing a t-shirt with some sort of offensive slogan on it. Had to cover it up with his jacket for the rest of the day. There were plenty of short skirts, sagging jeans with exposed underwear, guys in kilts, scene kids covered in piercings and black eyeliner, tracksuits… ah, the early 2000s… I guess teachers just (rightly, in my opinion) didn’t care, and neither did the students. I don’t really see the problems with students turning up in their sleepwear, or dressed for a nightclub, if that doesn’t affect the running of a school day.
            I’ve heard about the sexist double standard in American schools and frankly, that seems worse for girls than both the UK uniform or the German attitude.

  • Lacy Phillips

    Okay, on the dated textbooks: they’re magical books! Maybe they update themselves as new information becomes available. Like the DA coins heating up when a spell is cast from a distance, maybe the textbooks get like push updates like cell phones???

    • Good point! To expand on it – does it take a specific witch or wizard to update it magically, or does the book do so by itself? I can hardly imagine the latter being the case – otherwise any ‘discovery’ someone publishes or claims (Crumple Horned Snorkacks for example..) might make it in, as the book probably can’t judge whether or not it actually exists. Same problem if anyone can update it, so I guess there’s probably a limited number of people allowed or a committee of sorts that controls it.

  • UmbridgeRage

    Thanks for reading my comment in the recap guys. Further to that, I did not forget that Delphi was hidden away. I question why Bella would do that. I think that you were forgetting that at the time of her birth Voldemort had proven to his DEs that he was basically immortal. He had told his DEs that he had found a way to do it but when he “died” in Godric’s Hollow who believed him and tried to find him? Barty Jr, the LeStrange brothers and…Bellatrix. His return in the graveyard would be enough for everyone else to never doubt his immortality again. Your theory of Narcissa talking Bella into hiding her pregnancy goes against everything we know about her. She would never try to hide this fact from Voldemort nor think that she could. They wouldn’t have been thinking “We only need to hide her for a few months ’cause Potter is going to kill Voldemort and leave us without a Dark Lord/Lady”. They would need to keep this secret for at least 18 years before Delphi was born, come of age and completed her magical education to even hope that she could challenge LV. That’s a long time to lie to “the world’s greatest Legilimens” over such an emotional thing.

    Didn’t Amos Diggery raise her? Why would he tell her she is Voldemort’s child? He wouldn’t be hoping for another Dark Lord since the first one killed his real child (actually I’m kinda confused as to how he ended up raising her when she had family in the Malfoys, could she not even be Bellatrix’s daughter? Refusing to read the play might play into that) Sorry, none of your theories made any sense to me.

    Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest it’s on to this weeks ep.

    • Lisa

      Amos Diggory didn’t raise Delphi. She was raised by the Rowles, a family of Death Eaters. Then at some point she Imperius-ed Amos into thinking that she is his niece in order to get to the Time Turner.

      I don’t think Bella hid her from Voldemort. I do think she hid her, or rather her true identity, from the Malfoys. You don’t go around saying you’re carrying the Dark Lord’s baby when you’re not sure who your friends and enemies are. I’m sure she told Narcissa (and everyone else) that Delphi was Rodolphus’s child.

      • I’m fairly sure there is a scene in Deathly Hallows when Voldemort goes into rage mode and begins killing everyone in the room.. Malfoy and Bellatrix are both in the room at the time and barely escape, but he was very ready to kill them too.

        Voldemort was not conscious of any child. Bellatrix would take her own life before lying to her master. There was no baby making in Deathly Hallows.

        • Lisa

          Yes he was ready to kill them. So? At that time she had already given birth so technically she was useless from that point of view.

          • UmbridgeRage

            What use is a child to Voldemort? He can’t love her. Would have no desire to raise her (so Bella would not be useless at this point). Does not need a child for his legacy since he plans on living forever. All this child could be to him is a rival who would attempt to usurp him.

            Which DE would dare touch you if you were carrying LV’s child? Assuming LV knew and was happy with the situation then Bella would be as safe from her fellow DE as LV himself.

            Edit: Thanks for clearing up who raised Delphi but why the Rowles? Why not the Malfoys since she is their niece?

          • Lisa

            Well, obvisouly I don’t know any more than you do but I don’t think Voldemort intended to have a child so I don’t think Delphi was part of any “plan” of his. He might have seen her as a rival, however as CC tells us had Voldy lived he would have let Delphi run the wizarding world (as his own puppet of course).
            I’m not saying Bella would think a DE would try to harm her. But how many DEs could actually be trusted with such information? Even if they didn’t betray LV and told Aurors/Order members willingly, the information could still have been forced from them. It just seems wise to me to keep the father a secret.
            As for why the Rowles, the Malfoys probably wanted nothing to do with her. They were eager to get on with their own lives and didn’t want anything to tie them to their old DE lives. And IF they knew who the father was, all the more reason to get rid of her considering their history with Voldemort.

  • Centennial Star

    Loved this episode! I’m two months away from getting my teaching credential, so it was lovely to hear our own modern Muggle theory applied to Hogwarts – the inquiry-based model and all that. By the way, the English phrase I think Carmen is looking for at about 2 hours and 15 minutes into the episode is the “zone of proximal development,” which is that zone that is just beyond your comfort level but not so challenging that you can’t achieve whatever it is that you are trying to do.

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    I’m curious to know how Snape treated his other students in general. Not that I’m suggesting he was by any means a nice teacher, but perhaps the level of nastiness aimed at Harry and his friends was the result of his “Harry issues” and reserved for them in particular. If he weren’t such a vindictive bully, I could actually see him being a really good teacher. Thinking back to Harry’s first lesson with him, we could look at his questions directed at Harry (unfair as it was to call him out the way he did) as evidence of him supporting the self-inquiry method. If he hadn’t been such an a-hole about it, I could see it as him laying out his expectations for the class- that they should be reading the text ahead of class, that they should be prepared to answer questions, that they will be held to high expectations-no exceptions. If you take out the bullying aspect, Snape’s teaching style actual reminds me a lot of a few teachers I had who I hated, because they were so tough. Looking back now though, those same teachers are the ones I appreciate most. So I just wonder if maybe there were some students who were never targeted by Snape in such a way, and actually excelled under his tutelage.

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      I see your point with the high standards, and demanding students to show initiative in preparing for class. But Snape keeps crossing the linie between tough and cruel, and I don’t care if he does that to all his students or just some. To earn the label “good teacher” you cannot be cruel, ever.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        Oh I totally agree with you there, I don’t think we could ever say he was a good teacher. I’m merely pointing out that he might have had the potential to be a good teacher, if only he could refrain from treating his students so terribly.

        Plus, this really makes me question the Hogwarts administration and their lack of oversight. I mean, Hagrid is threatened with being removed from his position over one incident with a hippogriff, while Snape repeatedly subjects his students to what amounts to mental and emotional abuse, YET NOONE EVER NOTICES? I find it hard to believe that even if students were too afraid of him to come forward, that rumours and stories wouldn’t have eventually circulated to the other professors.

        • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

          Hagrid gets in trouble because Buckbeak hurt Draco, and Lucius uses this incident for extensive power play. Snape gets along well with Draco, and other parents don’t seem to care as much about their children being threatened and bullied at school as we do.

          • travellinginabluebox

            Absolutely agree that this was a mere show of JKR how money rules over politics in a lot of cases. The whole Buckbeak incident is not only unfair but also shows the Lucius can bribe the ministry in doing his bidding, if he so pleases. Hence Draco’s catchphrase “My father will hear about this!”

    • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

      I’ve said this before in other Snapey conversations, but Snape would be a much better graduate school teacher. His introductory speeches to Harry’s first-year potions class and sixth-year DADA class are so compelling; if I were a PhD student aiming to become an expert in one of those subjects, I would be beating down Snape’s door to get him as my advisor. But to eleven-year-olds, the words are either going right over their heads or, if they are intrigued, they’re still at the age where a teacher’s likability matters more then his expertise and passion for his subject. I also think that in teaching more advanced, serious students, Snape would become a better teacher in terms of how he relates to his students. He doesn’t have the patience for young kids who are still learning the basics, but he wouldn’t get so irritated with more advanced students whose work didn’t lead to so many mishaps, and who were more capable of original work and more confident in taking initiative. He’s still be snarky, of course, because that’s just his personality, but he might direct it less often at specific students and their work. Also, at any age, students respond to different types of motivation: some are motivated only by grades, some by praise, others by perversity (wanting to prove a critical teacher wrong). I’d bet that, like you said, some students would excel under his method, and that maybe many talented, NEWT-level students at Hogwarts did.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        This totally makes sense. This also made me think of the end of year teacher evaluations that many universities have their students fill out, and having to do one for Snape. Imagine the kind of criticisms he would be getting from adult students, who would completely hold him accountable for being a jerk.

        • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

          Ha, I have a feeling Snape would just smirk at those evaluations and make snarky comments to himself about whiny students needing to learn that life isn’t fair …

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    I’d like to think that professors use their time at Hogwarts not just to teach but also to support their pursuits in specific avenues of advanced study, much like our muggle university professors do. So they’d be writing articles for publications like “Transfiguration Today”, using the greenhouses for plant research, conducting studies in spellwork, etc. Even Hagrid with his Blast-Ended Skrewts kind of reminds me of science professors and their students who help carry out the experiments and tests pertaining to a particular area of research the prof is working on. Perhaps a few excelled NEWT level students even assist professors outside of class with specific projects. I’d buy this being one of the situations in which a student would be given permission to check out books from the restricted section.

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      Professor Burbage’s article in the Prophet may have been part of her research results about the relationship between the magical community and the non-magical community. We don’t see her lessons, but it would fit to your idea about the teachers pursuing their subjects while teaching at Hogwarts.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        Oh yeah, good example! That would give some credibility to the article as well, I would hate to think she died just for a simple puff piece in the Prophet. That is a nice (though terrible) real-world parallel to how progressive academics and intellectuals are often targets of fascist regimes.

    • Huffleclaw

      I love that idea. On Pottermore’s McGonagall profile it lists one of her hobbies as “correcting articles in Transfiguration Today.” Maybe she serves on the editorial board and that is one of her duties as Hogwarts Transfiguration professor. I have a vague memory of her being mentioned as having a piece in there. Several of my professors in undergrad and now grad school serve as an editorial board member for an academic journal, which Transfiguration Today certainly seems to be. I can just see Minerva now. She is eating some biscuits from her tartan tin and scratching out an offending line. “No, you cannot transfigure a hippogriff into a desk pig. It is most unnatural!”

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        Oh awesome, I’d forgotten that was part of McGonagall’s bio too. Perfect!

  • Huffleclaw

    One interesting connection to this topic came up in my reading for school this week. One of the chapters this week discussed the beginning of universities in Europe. The first developments of universities (in Paris and Bologna, Italy) began in 1100 CE, which means Hogwarts predates European universities by about 110 years according to the lexicon. The first university settings were very informal and the general curriculum included two primary steps. First was the trivium, where students studied grammar, rhetoric and logic. (OWLs?) Once they mastered logic they would move on the quadrivium – arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, and music theory. (NEWTs?) Notably, medieval students were expected to be taught reading and writing at home, usually by tutors for elite and noble families. That seems to be a tradition that has carried on in the wizarding world. Perhaps that education continues at home in the summer months, we just don’t see it. It seems like Rowling is basing Hogwarts at least in part on Medieval educational systems (as I’ve said before). So at home students learn basics such as reading, writing basic expectations of the community. Then at Hogwarts students advance to their OWLs (the Trivium) and then if they are successful in OWLs the NEWTs represent the quadrivium. Further study, such as with St. Mungos or the Ministry could be represented by study of church law, theology, or medicine as advanced training for careers!

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      Fascinating! I think that makes total sense. And students are assigned work to do at home over the holidays, so that would seem to support the expectation of education continuing in the home as well. I wonder if wealthy and ambitious families like the Malfoys hire private tutors before their children start at Hogwarts and over the summer breaks? If so, then that might also be a way for those who wish to become professors to get some teaching experience under their belt first.

      • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

        tutors who teach the children at home before they start Hogwarts would also be a way for families to have two parents working outside the home. We had been wondering if all magical families need to have one stay-at-home-parent because we don’t see child care institutions. Imagine being an au-pair person teaching five-year-olds in a magical family!

        • Huffleclaw

          That would be a hand full! I think I’d take a muggle kindergarten class if any of the stories we hear from Ron about Fred and George are true! (Turning Ron’s bear into a spider, trying to convince Ron to make the Unbreakable Vow, etc.)

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Haha, yeah I nannied preschool/kindergarten aged children for several years. I couldn’t take my eyes off them for a moment- I can imagine how much more chaos that could occur with magical children. However, coming up with creative ways to teach colors, numbers, the alphabet, and animals would be so much more fun with magic.

        • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

          You just gave me an idea for a fan fic I’d love to read: a Victorian governess novel-type story, set in Wizarding England in the 1840s, about a young witch who is a governess in a snobby pure-blood manor, or maybe in Grimmauld place for the noble House of Black.

      • Huffleclaw

        That would make a lot of sense and further tie in to the Medieval aspect of magic education, Wealthy and noble families did hire tutors. In some families, such as the Medici and many of the royal families, tutors are as important historically as their charges!

  • AuroraSinistra

    Hello, I’ve been listening for a bit and have finally caught up to the recent episodes. This week, you talked about how Durmstrang had a different curriculum when it came to dark arts, as well as the odd structure that teachers can decide what to teach students. We don’t know very much about how classes are taught at other wizarding schools, but this reminds me of how many colleges and universities in America have classes that may have the same name and course number, but will have a completely different structure. I went to Flagler college in Florida (aka, Gryffindor castle- complete with a lion mascot, red and gold school colors, and even ghosts) and all of my friends were technically in the same English class, but none of us were taught the same material or even had similar projects. This reminded me of Trelawney and Firenze having drastically different methods for teaching the same class. In addition, if a class has more than one professor, who teach different things, do students have the ability to choose which professor they would like to study with? I’d much rather take Firenze’s class than Trelawney’s honestly.

  • Fabs

    Regarding taking O.W.L.s, I’ve always have the following question.

    We know that the maximum number of O.W.L.s that can be achieved in Hogwarts is 12. Both Percy Weasley and Barty Crouch Jr. got 12, while Hermione got 10 after dropping 2 classes. How did the previously mentioned characters manage to take 12 classes without the use of a Timeturner. I guess if Percy had ever used one, Molly and Arthur would have mentioned it (and Molly probably wouldn’t have allowed it).

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      their timetables must have been different. Hermione’s problem was that she had to visit one class and then go back in time to visit the other class that took place at the same time. I guess after Percy took his O.W.L.s the Hogwarts staff noticed that only the very most ambitious and talented students could handle the workload of 12 subjects, so they changed the timetables and made the students pick which one they preferred.

      • Huffleclaw

        Agreed, though my theory differs slightly. Perhaps it is just simply interest for 3rd years. Hermione might have been the only 3rd year interested in taking Muggle Studies and Arthimancy. So it wasn’t necessary to have some courses scheduled concurrently. While the workload of 12 OWLs would be difficult, it might be manageable for some students. Don’t forget, Hermione also helped Hagrid defend Buckbeak and had to carefully utilize the time turner. If she hadn’t been Harry’s friend and destined to help save the world she might have managed to take 12 without the added stress.

  • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

    Alchemy is apparently a potential subject of study for N.E.W.T.-level students at Hogwarts, according to JK Rowling’s piece on Pottermore. How do you think this works? Is there a dedicated Alchemy course, or do students study it independently from books in the library and consultations with professors, maybe with one professor running a “lab” session once or twice a week. We never hear of an Alchemy Master at the school, so do McGonagall and Snape jointly teach this subject (since it’s something of a hybrid between Transfiguration and Potions), or does Dumbledore actually teach it, considering he’s the resident expert?