Please transport your self into a magical world of J.K. Rowling’s creation and revel in it’s awesomeness. Now remember those pages (or minutes for movie fans) that were painful to read because Dolores Umbridge made Harry’s and the readers life a living hell. We sat there smacking our heads because what she was saying and the things she was doing seemed so outlandish and ridiculous that they had to be fiction. While some were obviously just that, the punishing blood quill for instance, other things may not have been as outlandish as one might think. Please watch the clip below to gain some insight or for a memory refresher.
This clip is the first introduction the movie-goers had to Umbridge’s class and properly sets the stage for just about everyone to hate her. However, what I want to draw form this are these lines.
Dolores Umbridge: Your previous instruction in this subject has been disturbingly uneven. But you will be pleased to know from now on, you will be following a carefully structured, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic. Yes?
Hermione Granger: There’s nothing in here about using defensive spells.
Dolores Umbridge: Using spells? Ha ha! Well I can’t imagine why you would need to use spells in my classroom.
Ron Weasley: We’re not gonna use magic?
Dolores Umbridge: You will be learning about defensive spells in a secure, risk-free way.
Harry Potter: Well, what use is that? If we’re gonna be attacked it won’t be risk-free.
Dolores Umbridge: Students will raise their hands when they speak in my class.
Dolores Umbridge: It is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be sufficient to get you through your examinations, which after all, is what school is all about.
Harry Potter: And how is theory supposed to prepare us for what’s out there?
Dolores Umbridge: There is nothing out there, dear! Who do you imagine would want to attack children like yourself?
Harry Potter: I don’t know, maybe, Lord Voldemort!
– IMDB Umbridge Quotes
These lines make any science teacher cringe because Dolores is basically stating that teaching never involves actual practice. She stands by that the best way for them to learn is to simply read off the page and summarize what they have read, but how is that fair or helpful to anyone? For those of you who have only seen the movies you may not know that is another such standoff in Umbridge’s class after the first. Hermione reads the entire book that Umbridge assigns and comes in the next day and refuses to read what she has already read over again and proves to Umbridge, through a series of questions, that she has indeed read the whole book. As is the character of most of the 5th book Harry yells and eventually gets more detention during the conversation.
Once Umbridge becomes High Inquisitor she starts her flurry of educational decrees or the interference of government with day-to-day operations of education.
First and foremost this action takes the control away from teachers. It eliminates their most powerful tool and that is the ability to creatively adapt their lessons so that students gain much more from them. Instead they have to follow a strict curriculum which must be approved to perfectly fit the model the government creates. Meanwhile these are all being tested through specific tests which are supposed to tell you everything about a students knowledge (similar to OWLs).
The final thing I will say on this subject is an opinion piece, specifically this article, as well as this meme.
Now after reading through this article, I will say there are things that may be over the edge but the main point is a good one. The moment you take the learn out of learning, you are restricting students to only reading which for many, myself included, does not help you learn as well as participating in the actual activity.
Until next time,