Harry Potter should need no introduction. The seven books and eight films have underpinned popular culture since the first novel was published 24 years ago.
The magical world of Harry, Ron and Hermione has gripped readers and audiences the world over and the widespread popularity of the series is showing no signs of slowing despite the final instalment of the films being released a decade ago.
At the most basic level, the series follows the characters as they navigate the trials and tribulations of attending the mystical Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
There is also the slight hiccup that is Voldemort (ain’t nobody calling him the Dark Lord around here) attempting to take over the magical world while essentially either torturing, killing or maiming anyone who stands in his way.
Honestly Voldemort all I have to say is read the room please! You’re severely disrupting the education of these young witches and wizards. Surely your quest for magical world domination can be picked up further down the line, maybe when your arch nemesis isn’t 12 years old?
That little ‘situation’ however is a story for another day as today we are talking about the insane curriculum on offer from Hogwarts.
Whilst the timetable for the next generation looks pretty fool proof on the surface with offerings such as defence against the dark arts, charms, herbology and care of magical creatures, the lack of basic subjects such as literacy and numeracy is less than ideal.
The only answer to the obvious lack of mathematics classes is that of arithmancy.
Arithmancy is an elective subject that welcomes students from third year onwards, ages around 13 to 14 years old. I stress again that this subject was… elective.
The subject is described as “predicting the future using numbers” combined with “a bit of numerology”.
Maths-Whizz is a super clever virtual maths tutor which delivers interactive games, lessons and exercises for five to 13 year olds.
I hate to admit that I had to turn to Harry Potter Wiki for this one, to remember the name of the solitary professor of arithmancy.
Her name is Professor Septima Vector and despite my appreciation for her witty surname, I am not giving J. K. Rowling props for this one as providing one professor of what I assume would be a pretty important subject is highly questionable.
The magical answer to Ofsted would be having an absolute field day with this one. Was Umbridge technically a member of magical Ofsted?
More to the point, if Professor Vector is taken ill or simply just fancies a holiday at any point, is there a supply teacher ready to step in and teach the depleting numbers of the class or will the children find themselves with a free period?
I’m sorry but there’s literally a mass murderer by the name of Voldemort out there people and I’m pretty sure that a group of unattended students with nothing better to do aside from to hang around in the cold light of day would be an easy target for said murderer?!
Anyway, Professor Vector is known among students as being an extremely strict teacher who dishes out highly complicated and unnecessarily long homework tasks. So much so, that it puts students off from opting to take her classes which frankly isn’t helping students to engage in your subject now is it, Septima?
Despite this trainwreck of a teaching schedule, it was indeed a subject that Hermione Granger was fond of, once describing it as “wonderful”.
That being said, if it literally takes someone with such a profound passion for education and complex subjects to enjoy arithmancy, then the rest of the students aren’t likely to have much hope when it comes to striking up an interest with the subject.
It’s also worth pointing out that Hermione generally spent a considerable amount of time breaking in to the heavily guarded restricted section of the library – it’s like the school doesn’t even want these kids to learn anything.
So, what about students that want to finish school and embark on some of the more nine-to-five based careers that the Ministry of Magic has to offer? Surely these sort of sectors require more knowledge of basic literacy and numeracy?
We only have to look at Ron’s father, Arthur Weasley’s, hilarious attempt at handling muggle money (that’s standard money to us) in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
And I quote: “Help me, Harry. This one’s a — a — a ten? Ah yes, I see the little number on it now…. So this is a five?”
Need I remind you that this is a man who previously had an extensive career in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, aka an office that should have deep-rooted knowledge of all muggle artefacts including money.
All I can say is that it seems Hogwarts need to take a back-to-basics approach and not solely focus on the subjects that look good on paper.