Dumbledore’s Choice of Teachers

by Eric Zeegers

Albus Dumbledore seems to be the perfect Headmaster of Hogwarts. He really cares for his students, he’s a great wizard, people trust him almost instantly (and he can be trusted), he has a great sense of humor and, above all, he is nice. But (and there’s always a but), he does have one flaw.

Through the five years Harry has spent at Hogwarts until now, teachers have come and gone. Not only the Defense against the Dark Arts teachers but also the Care of Magical Creatures teachers. And, of course, there already were a handful of teachers we have met at various stages of the books. Some of them turned out to be bad, either as an ineffective teacher, a bad person, or both.

Sybill Trelawney, Rubeus Hagrid and Gilderoy Lockhart are bad teachers. Quirrel, Crouch/Moody and Umbridge are bad people. Why did Dumbledore choose them? Okay, he didn’t choose Umbridge, so I’ll leave her out for the remainder of this editorial. Why did he offer them the job or let them keep the job? Was he so desperate? Or was he just too trusting?

Hagrid has been the Care of Magical Creatures teacher since Harry’s third year. Hagrid is absolute an expert on the subject. Few have more knowledge about magical creatures. Hagrid’s biggest problem, however, is the combination of his insecurity and his lack of teaching skills. When he makes a mistake and people laugh at him, he gets insecure and makes more mistakes. Hermione has said more than Once, “Hagrid is a bad teacher.” According to a Ravenclaw during the first lesson in OotP (Dutch edition): “He’s a laugh.” To be honest, I agree with that. Don’t be angry at me, I like Hagrid more than Grubbly-Plank, but Hagrid’s substitute is good at teaching. Hagrid isn’t. So why did Dumbledore give Hagrid the job and not Grubbly-Plank?

I think there are two reasons. First, he needed to clear Hagrid’s name when he turned out to be innocent of opening the Chamber of Secrets. Dumbledore wanted people (mainly the parents of students) to trust Hagrid again. The second reason is that Hagrid does possess the required knowledge. I still would have hired Grubbly-Plank, though.

Lockhart was a fraud. He didn’t do anything, he doesn’t know anything. All he seemed capable of was the Obliviate charm. Why did Dumbledore hire him? I think for one simple reason: Lockhart’s books. Dumbledore read them or heard about them and never doubted his skills. He trusted him too much.

And then there’s Trelawney. The Divination teacher, as far as we know, did only two real prophecies in her life and the last was when she’d already been working for sixteen years at Hogwarts. When she’s on duty, she seems to make everything up. Proof: She must have known that Umbridge was going to fire her, but it still came as a surprise. I think the reason Dumbledore offered her the job is to keep her around. He wants to be there when she makes another prophecy (and I think it is ‘when’ and not ‘if’) and act in time. But is it fair? Is a prophecy more important than a good education? I think it isn’t, but maybe this case is an exception. I mean, it is Divination. A good education seems rare to me from any Divination teacher.

Okay, they were the bad teachers, now on to the bad people.

Quirrel and Moody were both evil. One has Voldemort on the back of his head and the other was a Death-Eater (Crouch) in disguise. They both served almost a full year at Hogwarts without raising any suspicion. They both had bad intentions the entire time, and Dumbledore didn’t know a thing? That is hard to believe, since Dumbledore is one of the best Legilimens in the magical world. Maybe Quirrel/Voldemort and Crouch were Occlumens, but even that Dumbledore would have noticed if he tried to read their minds. I think we can assume he never tried to. He trusted them.

And that’s Dumbledore’s biggest flaw: his choice of teachers. He is too trusting and doesn’t always get his priorities right. As Headmaster of a school, isn’t the most important thing a good education for your students?

For comments, email me at erik_zeeg@hotmail.com, subject: hp