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More Potter thoughts - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
More Potter thoughts
In no particular order:
  • You know, Umbridge was a bitch and a terrible teacher, but was the Ministry wrong about the kids having a patchy DADA education and not knowing stuff like the laws about using defensive spells? I'd think that would be sort of important. If you're in a self-defense class, knowing what situations it's okay to do what in would be... well, kind of essential. They should do the Slinkard book first year, while the kids haven't mastered enough basic spellwork to really work a lot of practical spells yet anyway. They could also cover things like when it's okay to use magic out of school (Dementor attack) and when it's not (you're annoyed at your cousin). Seems like that sort of knowledge would be helpful.
  • Barty Crouch, Jr, is amusing himself greatly while mocking the crap out of Harry and Hermione. I know, yes, Harry takes the idea of being an Auror and runs with it, but look at the circumstance: A Death Eater in hiding who's planning to kill him takes a moment to compliment him on exactly how observant he is -- as they're standing alone in a night-time corridor together and he's in the process of taking away a piece of magical tech that could have told Harry everything if he'd really paid attention to it earlier (imagine if he'd checked it before DADA to see if the teacher was in yet). I do believe Barty to be snarking for his own amusement there.
  • Harry has a reputation for being an "everyman" with Hermione as the brilliant one, but in-universe, everyone -- including Lucius Malfoy and Voldemort -- comments on his intelligence, and he demonstrates it repeatedly throughout the series as a problem-solver. He's lazy on his classwork, but then, most of his classwork seems to be of the make-work variety that schools love, so... while I think Hermione is a better student as far as things like the job description of a student go, I'm not convinced she's smarter than Harry. Or maybe it's just that I always had a more Harry-like approach to homework.
  • Trelawney's not a very good Seer (two prophecies aside), but there's not much evidence that she's a bad teacher. Harry doesn't have or want that particular gift, and Hermione considers it nonsense, but the kids seem to be generally versed in the various techniques that the field requires. Now, whether or not those techniques are any good is a different matter, and whether or not the subject is worthwhile is debatable, but if you follow Lavender and Parvati's commentaries, it's clear that Trelawney has, in point of fact, managed to convey said subject. She's not a terrific teacher, given that she seems to like intimidating her class with dire prophecies, but she's not as abysmal as...
  • Hagrid. I don't hate Hagrid, but I never really picked up the love for him that the kids have. And, while he knows his subject quite well, he doesn't appear to convey it all that clearly most of the time, just jumping from one creature to another without any real underpinning. We never hear Harry or Hermione able to, say, develop a plan of care and identification for an unknown creature based on the theory behind what Hagrid is teaching them. (As an example, when Hedwig is injured in OotP, when Harry is in his third year of CoMC, the most either of them notices of her injured wing is that her feathers are ruffled, and neither seems to have the slightest idea what to do about it. Instead of this kind of basic creature care, they spent a year trying to figure out what the skrewts, a highly unusual animal, liked, and seemed to have done little else.)
  • Snape, like Trelawney, does seem to manage to convey his subject. If he didn't, Neville wouldn't have had it to be able to use when he wasn't terrified (it mentions that his hands are steadier when he's being supervised by someone else). If it weren't for the outright bullying he does in his class, I wouldn't necessarily consider him a bad teacher. But threatening to kill Trevor and deliberately under-marking Harry and doing all of the other nonsense he does undercuts him there. He also doesn't seem to do lot of theory of potion making, preferring to just put up the recipes, but we at least see in his essay assignments that there's some expectation of knowing it.
  • McGonagall is a good teacher who explains her subject and has high expectations, and the subject itself seems very useful in the abstract. But why would you ever learn to turn an owl into a pair of opera glasses in a world where you could Conjure opera glasses? Or maybe that's a kind of preliminary thing, so you understand how matter is put together? Kind of like learning to add on paper despite living in a world where Excel will take care of your calculations for you? Hey, maybe Conjuring is new-fangled tech and people scoff at it and say, "These kids... they just wave their hands and make things happen. They don't even understand how magic changes matter!" Okay, that ended up in a different place than it started out.
  • What if, after you finish at Hogwarts, you want to become, say, a medical doctor? An engineer? An astronaut? You don't have the educational foundation to go to a Muggle school. And if you did it on your own, would they have to break your wand? Or could you carry it concealed in the Muggle world doing a Muggle job? (Wizards on the International Space Station. Make it happen.) Can you choose to just do a Muggle thing and go back and forth between worlds, or would they consider the risk of exposure too great? If you're magical, are you forced into the stunted career paths we see? Someone who happens to be born with a great gift for music in the real world might well enjoy a career in the world of music, but he or she could also get tired of the violin and decide his true calling is teaching history. Or could go back and forth. (Mayim Bialik, for example.) Does someone born with magical talent have that option?

  • ETA: Because I've been reading about psychological warfare. Rita Skeeter during TDH: Was she actually doing propaganda for the Voldemort regime, as in deliberately trying to stir dissension and doubt among Dumbledore's followers, or was she just a "useful idiot" who did it for her own reasons? I tend to favor the latter, though the effect was the same.
    :shrug:
    Random thoughts while re-reading.
11 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: November 2nd, 2017 11:52 am (UTC) (Link)
l. They should do the Slinkard book first year, while the kids haven't mastered enough basic spellwork to really work a lot of practical spells yet anyway. They could also cover things like when it's okay to use magic out of school (Dementor attack) and when it's not (you're annoyed at your cousin). Seems like that sort of knowledge would be helpful.

I've never really thought about it that way before, but you make a good point. Also, most of their DADA professors were horrible. I mean, I realize Umbridge is knocking on Remus for being a werewolf, but one had Voldemort living in their head, one was a fraud, one was a Scooby Doo-variety imposter who turned a kid into a ferret... not the best track record.


Harry has a reputation for being an "everyman" with Hermione as the brilliant one, but in-universe, everyone -- including Lucius Malfoy and Voldemort -- comments on his intelligence, and he demonstrates it repeatedly throughout the series as a problem-solver.

I think Harry also has survival skills, due to his time with the Dursleys. (I wonder if that was one of Dumbledore's motives for letting him be there as well.) He quickly learned how to handle someone bigger and stronger than you trying to take you down. And he's probably less naive than some of his peers for it, too. Hermione is very book smart, and Ron is an excellent strategist, but they don't have good people skills because they never had to learn to talk their way out of a bad situation. And yes, I think he's pretty smart, he's just not book smart. He figures out how Nicholas Flamel relates to everything in PS/SS, he

(I feel obliged to mention I in no way think being abused is a good way to learn to be strong. Obviously it isn't, and it also could've gone a very different direction.)

Hagrid. I don't hate Hagrid, but I never really picked up the love for him that the kids have. And, while he knows his subject quite well, he doesn't appear to convey it all that clearly most of the time, just jumping from one creature to another without any real underpinning.

Honestly, I think they all knew he was a terrible teacher. I think he was such a mentor for the trio that they stuck to him. But even in HBP, IIRC Ron and Hermione don't even want to go to Aragog's funeral because they're just done with getting tied up in all of Hagrid's creature drama. (I think Grawp was the breaking point for Hermione. Ron probably remembers Aragog trying to eat them. However, Harry knows Hagrid as the guy who rescued him from the Dursleys, so I think he feels more obligated toward loyalty there. I think Ron and Hermione still love Hagrid, but he's more of a grownup friend than someone who actively changed their lives.)

What if, after you finish at Hogwarts, you want to become, say, a medical doctor? An engineer? An astronaut? You don't have the educational foundation to go to a Muggle school. And if you did it on your own, would they have to break your wand? Or could you carry it concealed in the Muggle world doing a Muggle job? (Wizards on the International Space Station. Make it happen.) Can you choose to just do a Muggle thing and go back and forth between worlds, or would they consider the risk of exposure too great?

Huh, I never thought about it. I assume you could just do a Muggle thing, as long as you didn't break the Statute of Secrecy. I think the bigger issue is exactly what you said, the educational foundation. I would imagine some skills would be there - Potions probably involves some level of mathematical and scientific savvy (since I always saw Potions as Fantastical Chemistry), for instance. Also, wizards and witches might have the option of going to university. I think it would honestly be easier for someone who was Muggleborn or had enough knowledge of the Muggle world, though. Maybe that's even the purpose of Muggle Studies courses.

(Also, I like to think that they actually have some wizards and witches in certain systems, just in case. I know in DH, Petunia's letter to Dumbledore reaches Hogwarts, and Snape tells Lily there must be witches and wizards who work for the Post Office. So we know that's a thing, at least.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2017 08:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I think Harry is book-smart. We see him do a lot of research and reading when it's relevant to him. He's just not an enthusiastic student.

But that survival instinct is an important part of it. He also tends to assume the others have that level of instinct as well, which may be why Dumbledore suddenly sped off when Harry said he'd left Crouch with Krum. I didn't have the impression that DD distrusted Durmstrang students, so I think the rush to get to him was concern for his safety rather than a belief that he did anything wrong, because he knew Harry hadn't accounted for the fact the Viktor, while a good wizard and an accomplished athlete, wasn't a warrior by nature.
shiiki From: shiiki Date: November 2nd, 2017 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm with you on Hagrid--great person, poor teacher. He's a prime example of how a lot of experts can know their stuff really well, but have no idea how to actually teach others about it. Quite frankly, aside from Lupin, I cannot honestly say that there is enough evidence that any of the teachers are actually good at teaching. I mean, most of the lessons pretty much consist of: 'This is the spell, this is how I've done it, now spend the rest of the lesson repeating the word until you get it right.'

Well, Herbology, maybe--though that really just seems like hands-on gardening practice.

I think the problem is that as much as JKR considered many elements in her world, she just never focused on it in as much detailed as we rabid fans do. Which to be fair, is reasonable for an author trying to tell a tight story (and probably never expected people to be as fascinated as we are!)

This is what I always loved about HP--the sheer potential it gives us for speculation and discussion.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2017 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think some of that might be kid perception, too. A lot of kids see science class as a series of stupid instruction lists, and don't pick up that they're learning how to do science. And since magic doesn't exist, she couldn't very well get into the real theory stuff (unless she wanted to lose the interest of her main readers), so she just mentions long essays and readings about spells without detail, so we can assume they're getting it. And in some classes, it looks like this is true, because they're able to operate independently. But not so much in CoMC.
reannanshaw From: reannanshaw Date: November 2nd, 2017 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good point on the CoMC class. The school lets them bring an owl, cat, or toad, yet there never seems to be any reason for this. You'd think it would be a good opportunity to use them to learn basic animal care.

(Wait, am I right about that? Cat, toad, owl, right? Then how did Ron bring a rat? Seriously, this whole Hogwarts pet policy confuses me.)

I think you give JKR way more credit than she probably deserves with some of these ponderings. It seems pretty clear to me that she wasn't thinking too much about larger context when writing a lot of what she wrote. (Like things that are said/not said at times before we learn about things that had happened long before, or the context of, like Marauders and stuff.) I can't think of examples, just that I enjoyed the series well enough on my first read-through, but when I tried re-reading, all these questions and inconsistencies kept getting in the way, and I only made it part-way through OotP before I gave up.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 2nd, 2017 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
A lot of people have wondered why Ron was allowed a rat. There's no explanation offered. Ah, well. Maybe the rules are more like suggestions. ;p

I like overthinking the gaps. It's amusing to me.
reannanshaw From: reannanshaw Date: November 5th, 2017 04:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
The funny thing is all JKR needed to do was add "rat" to the list of allowed pets and the question wouldn't even come up. I'm also confused why more kids didn't actually have a pet if they were allowed one. One kid with a toad, two kids with cats, and some owls. Out of, what, hundreds of students? Or maybe the vast majority of them just had owls and we never knew about them because they were in the owlery. But cats would definitely be out and about if there were more of them. And given cats are the most likely for people to already have... Ugh. Anyway.

One thing I love about your stories is how you work so hard to make sense of the plot/worldbuilding holes that JKR didn't bother to fill in. Your stories make far more sense than hers because of it.
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: November 4th, 2017 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)
What if, after you finish at Hogwarts, you want to become, say, a medical doctor? An engineer? An astronaut?

While it's a huge worldbuilding hole that never gets addressed, I've always felt like it probably wouldn't be that big of an issue, mainly because without any exposure to Muggle culture outside of the summer holidays I can't imagine many of them would think about specifically Muggle careers. If all the healing you see is done by a woman with particular spells and potions, are you going to connect your desire to heal people with the doctor you used to go to or the school matron? Are you going to have an interest in a specific branch of science, or are you going to be really into potions/Department of Mysteries research? Typically, people get interested in career paths because of something that they come into contact with and then have the opportunity to continue exploring, either in school or as a hobby or while undecided in college.

Rita Skeeter during TDH: Was she actually doing propaganda for the Voldemort regime, as in deliberately trying to stir dissension and doubt among Dumbledore's followers, or was she just a "useful idiot" who did it for her own reasons?

I think the latter, like you. For one thing, if she'd been a part of Voldemort's propaganda machine, would they let her just go back to working at the Prophet after the war?
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 6th, 2017 07:04 am (UTC) (Link)
For the first part, a seperate mandatory civics and ethics class would probably do wonders. And bundle a baseline Muggle studies with that.

I think it's already implied that at least by Harry's time at Hogwarts, that the Magical community cripplingly railroaded itself in a magic-only mindset, with even many Muggle-borns getting lovked in there unless they try hard to keep diversified. Magic rules all, and they already have other beings such as goblins doing calculating work, that they find no need to learn Muggle stuff. That the population is small likely helps lower that need.
It may even be deliberate to help indirectly enforcing the Statute by creating a dependence on Magical society and making the Muggle environment as pretty hostile.
Hence why I feel that, unless their parents are savvy enough to send them to Muggle school, Squibs are pretty ill-prepared for the world.

Skeeter's an scavenger (sometimes one that startles the prey into falling off a cliff in the first place), but I don't see her as an agent. If anything, she probably doesn't care for even the idea of Voldemort actually coming to power as she likely knows her fickle brand of sensationalism wouldn't survive under his cold regime (whether she thought he would actually succeed in coming to power is another thing).
Of course, it's a pertinent question all current things considered. :/

--FFR
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 6th, 2017 11:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have other stuff to add, but for now I'm talking about the "what if you want to work in muggle world"
I remember that JK Rowling mentioned some kids going to muggle school before Hogwarts, not to mention her telling about Minerva McGonagall mom marrying a muggle and keeping her wand, just hidden and locked; so I think that unless there's a big breach of the Statue of Secrecy the implication seems to be they can keep their wands. (Same with the going between worlds, it is mentioned Minerva McG was close to her muggle father so I would assume she went between worlds often to visit him)

And I don't know about wizards/witches but JKR did include a story about a Squib who ended up a Rugby player, who actually ended up getting wizards interested into Rugby.
So I think by that logic it's possible- I think it would be similar to people raised in Amish/similar like communities/Homeschooled in our world deciding to go to university (I think it's with something called a GED?)
So I would think it can happen

Also I don't think conjuring is meant to be "making it appear out of thin air" because it's mentioned that you can't conjured living things or food,
So I think it's "turtle into teacups" type stuff because a turtle into teacup is "easier" more tangible A to B object that particles to an armchair

(To be continued)
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 21st, 2017 02:46 am (UTC) (Link)
What if, after you finish at Hogwarts, you want to become, say, a medical doctor? An engineer? An astronaut?

I kind of always thought this was a bit deliberate. I'd imagine they have trouble getting Muggle parents to send their kids off to Hogwarts because really - what sane parent is going to send their kid off to a boarding school they can't even see? When they do get parents to agree to send their kids, I'd imagine they are very invested in keeping them in the wizarding world. The magic population doesn't seem to be teeming and I'd guess they need Muggleborns. What better way than to educate Muggleborn kids in such a manner that they don't have really feasible options to go back to the Muggle world. I suppose really motivated parents could make sure their kids keep up with math/science/etc... during summer break but that doesn't seem to be the case either.
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