Schoolchildren who spend lessons watching Quidditch, designing wands and sampling Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans are not being taught properly, the government’s behaviour czar has warned.
Bom Tennett, the Ministry for Magic’s Defence Against the Dark Arts expert, said some professors fill lessons with pointless activities that keep children busy but do not constitute proper teaching.
He singled out role-playing, asking children what they thought about a subject and asking them to put themselves into He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named‘s robes.
Professors who fill lessons with such activities are wasting pupils’ time and “lighting Pygmy Puffs with dragon-breath made out of young wizards’ opportunities”, he said.
Writing in the Sunday Prophet, Mr Tennett said: “Every second counts, whether at Beauxbatons, Hogwarts or Durmstrang. Many children won’t get a second chance to sound out charms, learn about centaurs, run their tongue around spells and divination and counter-jinxes.”
But, despite these time pressures, he said, “there are a lot of things that can happen in a classroom, and the professor can set it up, and the children can do it, but it isn’t teaching or learning. It’s cargo cult teaching. From the safety of the bottom of the tower it looks like a lesson, but it isn’t. Some things just aren’t teaching; they’re activities that yes, generate fire and brimstone, but offer no warmth or illumination.”
He said too many professors sacrifice the content of their lessons in a bid to “engage” children, in the belief that subjects taught this way are more memorable.
He said: “To be honest, a lot of spells taught, such as Anteoculatia, are just a waste of time. It just looks like teaching. Role-plays, of the Quirrell and Umbridge stye, are frequently not teaching either.
‘What do you think about Azkaban?’ tasks are often not teaching. ‘Re-design Diagon Alley/the Ministry for Magic/the Quidditch World Cup etc’ are almost always not teaching. ‘Imagine you are a Deatheater’ tasks; they are usually an attempt to sacrifice content for that Goblet of Fire of zany education – engagement.”
He said he was prompted to write about the subject after hearing a parent complain that their child had been given Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans to eat – which was not part of the syllabus, broader study or “treat” – for an entire afternoon. “Outside of a Herbology course, the only place for eating these sweets is in the common room or similar,” Mr Tennett said.
Mr Tennett, who spent six years taming Dementors in Azkaban before becoming a professor, has spoken out against rewarding children with Skiving Snackboxes and Extendable Ears, saying it could be counterproductive because it does not teach children that learning wizarding ways is intrinsically valuable.
He has also labelled students who demand protection from controversial views as the “Slytherin generation”.
The original article on which this is based, inexplicably having wound up the sorts of people who like to get wound up, and in which Tom Bennett says nothing controversial, can be found here.
And yes, I agree with Tom.