Friday 25 May 2012

How was Dumbledore a great headmaster?


The Harry Potter saga is insistent that Dumbledore was a great Head of Hogwarts, yet the evidence is that considered strictly as a head Dumbledore was not very good.

1. He was a great teacher himself, apparently, yet we never come across him teaching any classes.

2. He employs Professor Trelawney, who is a terrible teacher (fraudulent, disorganized, has favorites, tries to terrorize students).

3. He promotes Hagrid from gamekeeper to Professor, although he is a terrible teacher (disorganized, no abstracting ability, indifferent to danger of students).

4. He allows Snape blatantly to favour his own House, and to pursue personal vendettas against students.

5. He uses a ghost (Binns) to teach the history of magic, who is a terrible teacher (dull, dry, zero rapport).

6. The Slytherin problem +

Indeed, the standard of teaching at Hogwarts seems to be low - perhaps only McGonagall seems like a really good teacher.


Q: So why was Dumbledore a great Headmaster? A: Because he subordinated the business of education to the larger religious concern of fighting Voldemort.

In Christian terms, Dumbledore recognized that the job of education must be subordinated to Christian imperatives, and at times educational sacrifices must be made to spiritual needs.

Dumbledore had reasons to do with defeating Voldemort for doing most of the above, including shirking a share of the teaching; and the other abuses were tolerated as inevitable imperfections.


SO - Dumbledore was a great man and a great leader, rather than a great headmaster qua headmaster - but considered in an ultimate sense, the strategies of 'spiritual warfare' must not be sacrificed to tactical  educational concerns.


+ The Slytherin problem. There is a serious problem with the existence of a House dedicated to teaching advanced magic to - mostly - evil wizards. The problem, in a nutshell, is to answer the question of how it could be 'a good thing' to teach the likes of Crabbe and Goyle to become expert at magic? I shall write my, probable, answer in a future posting.


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