Five Things Hogwarts Is Strangely Missing
Hogwarts, obviously, is perfect. As I’ve previously discussed, I fantasized for years about going there, and even the part where your life is at risk all the time because people keep trying to start a war in your school didn’t really faze me. A three-headed dog? Cool. A teacher who happens to be a werewolf? Hot. I’d still get to fly a broomstick and go to Honeydukes, right? Sweet! I’m in!
But the more you think about it, the more you realize there are some things that Hogwarts just seems to have overlooked. Not only things the books simply might not have mentioned (like, for example, that there must be public bathrooms in the school other than the one that all the ghosts, Basilisks, fights, and attempted murders happen in) but also things that seem to be absent from Hogwarts entirely. Like…
1. A therapist
This sounds like a joke but isn’t. This is a world where the school nurse regrows your bones out of a bottle and one where Harry has a friend, relative, or someone else he knows die just about every school year – but there’s no one to talk to. Not to mention all the kids from Muggle homes who are trying to get through that transition, everyone who learns from Severus Snape, Severus Snape (if anyone ever needed a lot of therapy from someone very patient…), kids whose parents are Death Eaters, kids of the post-war generation whose parents were killed by Death Eaters, everyone who was a member of the Order of the Phoenix… basically, everyone at Hogwarts. I’m not saying therapy is the be-all and end-all for solving one’s problems, but there doesn’t even seem to be a way to process what’s happened except for talking about it to your peers who are also, like, 13. Sure, Harry has Dumbledore, but honestly, a bit of therapy wouldn’t have hurt Dumbledore either (even just about his sister and his boyfriend).
I like to think 19 years later when Harry, Ron, and Hermione show up on Platform 9 3/4 and all, as J.K. Rowling says, is well – that this peace of mind might have come courtesy of some professional help at some point. After all, Hogwarts hired a lady who teaches crystal ball reading, one who shows people how to fly broomsticks, and a dead guy to take History of Magic. You’d think Dumbledore would’ve sprung for a guidance counselor.
2. A few crucial subjects
There’s a dizzying array of subjects taught at Hogwarts, but there are a couple missing that slightly disturb me. First: I know the textbooks probably develop students’ literacy, but they’re all nonfiction. If Hogwarts students don’t read novels of their own accord, does that mean their English literature skills don’t expand beyond the age of just-turned-11? I’m aware that most of us spent high school lit classes essentially inventing symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird to keep our teachers happy and looking for the rude bits in Kerouac (spoilers: There are heaps), but that stuff’s important for your soul and cognitive development! Quidditch Through the Ages is wonderful; it’s not literature.
What’s more, it seems like you only get any sports or physical education training if you’re a member of a Quidditch team. Everyone else just seems to maintain their fitness with strolls into Hogsmeade or occasionally trying to outrun Death Eaters.
Wait… what am I saying? That last one sounds like my dream school.
3. School inspections
Obviously, inspectors from the Muggle school system couldn’t arrive to perform the standard inspections of Hogwarts that happen on regular campuses; Muggle inspectors wouldn’t be able to find the place, and besides, they’d probably have a nervous breakdown. The whole place is one epic health and safety violation.
But you’d think the Ministry would send someone other than Dolores Umbridge along for regular visits to check things out. “Wait, Voldemort got on the premises how? There’s a what in that lake? The Headmaster fell off the Astronomy Tower?” I’d pay money to read that report.
Seriously though, someone needs to be the voice of reason here. How is the Forbidden Forest not fenced off, at the very least?
4. Typical high school rule-breaking
When you compare the causes of detention for the students of Hogwarts and the causes of detention for… erm, people I may or may not know in real life (this means I’m legally covered, right editors?), there’s a lot more magic and sneaking out of bed after hours in Harry’s world and not so much underage drinking, smoking, uniform violations, or other shenanigans. Even when Harry cuts class, it’s always for a reason like, “Voldemort’s trying to kill me.” We just used to go to Starbucks (again, hypothetically).
5. The Internet
Okay, this last one, admittedly, wouldn’t have been an issue when Harry, Ron, and Hermione were at school, but I’m pretty sure it’s an issue Hogwarts would have to be dealing with in 2015. As we all know – in the 1990s at least – electronic devices didn’t work on the Hogwarts grounds. But I have no doubt some enterprising students would have gotten around that by now, and besides, we’ve all got 4G anyway.
But even if McGonagall had found a way to prevent it inside school, if the Harry Potter books had continued for long enough, we would’ve seen the carnage that happened when the wider wizarding world got hooked up to the Internet. Think the Decree for the Restriction of Underage Sorcery sounds hard enough to enforce as it is? Imagine the can of worms opened by 20-something wizards’ drunk Facebook profile pics. “Er, yeah, Auror Potter. Me an’ Mungo did just have a coupla butterbeers on Friday night. Yeah, that is me levitating a porpoise in that photo. Oi, you can’t make me delete that; it has 117 likes!”
On second thought, let’s stick with the fact that Hogwarts is perfect exactly as it is. Never change, wizarding world. Never change.