Was Hagrid a Bad Teacher?
At some point we’ve all agreed with Luna Lovegood – maybe Hagrid as a Care of Magical Creatures teacher was “a bit of a joke.”
Hagrid is constantly castigated for his teaching methods whether it’s by the students or by the staff. Malfoy has called Hagrid an “oaf” on many occasions, but apart from being his usual annoying-git-self, he does show genuine fear:
And you’re sure they’re trained, are you?” said Malfoy, the panic in his voice even more pronounced. “Only it wouldn’t be the first time you’d brought wild stuff to class, would it?
When Professor Grubbly-Plank took over from Hagrid, Parvati Patil stated,
I hope she stays, that woman! That’s more what I thought Care of Magical Creatures would be like… proper creatures like unicorns, not monsters…
Frankly, when Hagrid became Care of Magical Creatures professor, it felt like it was Dumbledore’s way of trying to pay him back for his failure to acquit Hagrid back in 1942 when Hagrid was wrongly accused of setting the Basilisk on Moaning Myrtle.
But there are a few things we need to remember. Firstly, our experience of Hagrid as a teacher was over his first three years of teaching. Not only was he a novice, but he was also experiencing intense pressure – firstly with Malfoy threatening to get him sacked, secondly with Rita Skeeter’s exposé, and thirdly with Umbridge’s tenure as High Inquisitor.
Furthermore, Care of Magical Creatures is an inherently dangerous class considering Professor Kettleburn’s loss of so many limbs.
Finally, we can assume from the 19 Years Later epilogue that Hagrid is still teaching 19 years later. So he must have become relatively good at teaching in order to still hold the position without Dumbledore’s protection.
We also know that he was competent enough to continue with Professor Grubbly-Plank’s lessons on less “challenging” creatures – and knew just as much about them as he did about the more dangerous ones.
Hagrid undoubtedly became a much better teacher once the intense pressure in the lead-up to the Wizarding War was relieved, and he gained more experience as a teacher. J.K. Rowling was very shrewd in showing us how the effects of stress can, rather than spur someone on such as in Harry’s case, act in a debilitating way. Once experience and the overthrow of Voldemort mitigated these factors, Hagrid was no doubt a brilliant teacher.