What I Learned from Hogwarts’s Worst Teachers
Students can learn valuable lessons – academic and everyday – from all of the teachers in their lives. Most of the time we learn the lessons our teachers are trying to relay to us about their subjects, but sometimes observing the successes and failures of our teachers can teach us a little bit about teaching itself. Here are a few things I learned from some of the worst teachers at Hogwarts.
Gilderoy Lockhart taught me that some teachers have no idea what they’re doing. He wasn’t even capable of managing a cage full of Cornish pixies. Rather than admitting he didn’t know where the Chamber of Secrets was, Lockhart attempted to flee the school and tried to modify Harry and Ron’s memories after they learned about his fraudulent career. Even the best teachers won’t have all the answers, but a good teacher will admit when they don’t know something, search for a solution, and come back to you once they’ve found it.
Wizarding history must have been a fascinating subject, but thanks to Professor Binns, we may never really know. Goblin rebellions, beheadings, witch burnings, and yet Hermione was the only one who could sit through a History of Magic lesson without drifting off. Maybe magical history would be less interesting for children who came from wizarding households, but Hogwarts had plenty of half-bloods and Muggle-borns to enjoy a whole new side of world history. Reading about Hogwarts’s most boring class reminded me of some of the teachers in my life who taught traditionally boring subjects, and I learned that even the most boring classes can be interesting in the hands of an adept teacher.
If it weren’t for the whole “actually a madman in disguise” thing, Moody might have been a pretty good teacher. Unfortunately, a violent criminal was given access to a children’s classroom and allowed to place Unforgivable Curses on them. I did learn one really important thing from Barty Crouch, Jr. – CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!
We didn’t get to spend much time at Hogwarts while the Carrows were teaching, but in the little time we had with them, they taught me that even teachers can be prejudiced. Teachers have a lot of power and responsibility that they can abuse to spread messages of hate and even try to turn privileged students against oppressed ones. Thank goodness they were only at Hogwarts for a year.
Severus Snape taught me that some teachers are cruel. They use their positions of power to bully children and make themselves feel better about their own insecurities. Some of them, like Snape, may have been bullied themselves. Even if we can see why Snape bullied his students, that doesn’t make it right. The Marauders may have treated Snape with cruelty and contempt, but Harry was 11 years old when Snape began to treat him unkindly. Snape’s bullying wasn’t limited to Harry either; he bullied Neville, Hermione, and many others. Good teachers have the capacity to treat all of their students with compassion, and Snape only doled out kindness to the students in his own House.
Dolores Umbridge taught me that some teachers are obsessed with controlling people. They want to use their positions of power to dominate those who are weaker than them. They have a lesson that they’re desperate for their students to learn, and they’ll go to any lengths to make sure that lesson really sinks in. They treat the students who stand up to them as scapegoats, abusing them in front of others and forcing them to undergo cruel punishments. Harry’s experiences with Umbridge showed me how important it is to stand up to anyone who’s mistreating you, especially the Umbridges in your life.
The most important thing I’ve learned from Hogwarts’s worst teachers is to appreciate all of the good teachers in my life. Teaching can be extremely unrewarding; the instructors who treat all of their students with compassion, go to great lengths to make their classes interesting, and treat their students as people rather than livestock deserve a thousand times the thanks they usually get.