Wizarding WReform: Hogwarts Curriculum Revision
You may have wondered why some of the classes that are offered at Hogwarts function the way they do. In our world, classes are supposed to build up skills for students to be successful on standardized tests and in their future careers. In the wizarding world, only some courses are required and directly correlate with their academic success and futures. Many of these courses even go so far as to cross the boundary between just and unjust. It is our hope, as readers, that Hogwarts has made the necessary curriculum revisions to improve the way of life for its students. If not, I am happy for them to be adapted based on my suggestions!
Beginning with Muggle Studies, readers do not know much. We do know that this is a course that could benefit many characters, especially pure-blood families who don’t seem to know much about Muggles. For Harry and co., this course is one they overlook, especially given that it is an elective. Rather than having this class be one that students can opt to take (or not), maybe Hogwarts could include this in their required curriculum.
Some other ways to increase course enrollment:
- Have a Muggle-born instructor: Who better to teach about the life of a Muggle than someone with a foot in that world?
- Include knowledge of Muggle Studies in job requirements: Any job would benefit from having an applicant who has even a basic knowledge of the world wizards coexist with.
- Have a robust syllabus: Learning how to perform Muggle tasks (laundry, cooking, cleaning, driving, etc.) without the use of magic is highly beneficial in case of an emergency.
Arguably, this class is one of the most important courses offered since magic and Muggle folks must coexist in order to prevent conflicts, something we have read about (and seen) within the history of the wizarding world.
Speaking of history, History of Magic needs revamping as well. Professor Binns may have been a wonderful instructor at some point, but that era is long gone. This course needs to be updated to reflect the current magical world – post Voldemort and Grindelwald. There are many ways to have a more fun and inclusive history course, which would benefit all students by giving them a more rounded view of their world.
Some changes that could reflect this:
- Include perspectives of different species: How is it possible to talk about conflicts between wizards and centaurs without including the opposite perspective on the matter?
- Strictly defined unit goals: What is the point of each lesson? What are some unifying themes of the course? How will this knowledge help students succeed in their careers beyond Hogwarts?
- Consider expanding staff: Rather than ridding the school of the institution that is Professor Binns, Hogwarts should consider expanding the staff and having instructors only teach one grade level.
Improving faculty life by minimizing courses and making the class more engaging for students can only be mutually beneficial, as many schools in our world can attest.
When we consider including the perspective of various species in the Hogwarts curriculum, we must remember the courses that blur the line between sentient and non-sentient beings. Transfiguration, an important skill for student success and survival, often includes the transfiguring of objects into animals or vice versa.
A few options to make Transfiguration more humane:
- Ban animal use/change in Transfiguration: Students are often told that it is not ethical to change a person into an animal without their consent, so why are they taught to change animals into non-sentient things?
- Include a unit on Animagi: Becoming an Animagus is, in a way, a form of personal transfiguration. This should be an optional part of the course, allowing students to choose whether to become a registered Animagus and learn to do it safely.
- Focus on survival skills and usefulness: How often would a student (or adult) transfigure a living thing into a cup? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to turn one non-sentient thing into another?
The use of skills learned in Transfiguration can only be an asset, but it would feel more moral if the use of living things were removed entirely.
Finally, Defense Against the Dark Arts is a subject that, over a seven-year span, has had seven different professors, each one having very different opinions on what should take precedence within the course. This changes what students learn year to year, rather than having them follow a predetermined guideline.
Some revisions to improve the course:
- Standards for Defense Against the Dark Arts: Universal standards for each year would ensure that students are developing the required skills and that changing Defense Against the Dark Arts professors would not derail the course.
- Ministry and school collaboration: Since the Ministry decides what skills are included in the OWLs and NEWTs, there must be close consultation and collaboration between the two institutions to create a coherent curriculum.
- Instructor insurance: This position seems to come with a fair amount of personal risk, making it difficult to find instructors willing to face that danger. By implementing an insurance policy between the school and staff, the incentive to teach this course would improve.
Defense Against the Dark Arts is a course that is heavily regarded when applying for many jobs post graduation, but it is difficult to be assured that a student has gained the skills they need when any instructor is able to teach whatever they want.
While these suggestions are merely that (suggestions), it is this author’s belief that these changes need to be made to Harry Potter’s alma mater to truly make Hogwarts the best place for young witches and wizards in the United Kingdom.