Why?!?! - An Author's note

For a final project in Fantasy Fiction (check out sf@sf- its a great resource for everything fantasy and sci-fi) I decided to do a timeline. But I couldn't do any ordinary timeline, right? I mean, that would be entirely too easy.

So for your pleasure, and my pain, this is a timeline showing the progression of magical education since A Wizard of Earthsea was published in 1968-- to see if apprenticeships have died in the wake of the magic school phenomenon... or if they're coming back. Or even more interesting, if they never left in the first place.

And even though this is for a class, I plan on working on it for.. well, forever. So any and all feedback is welcome, and appreciated.

Enjoy the journey through time, my weary travelers. Because here... we... go!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

1997- Rowling and Harry Potter

29 years after Earthsea... the one we've all been waiting for.. HARRY POTTER And the Sorcerer's Stone (the boy who lived)!

Oh, and Hogwarts. The school. Because that IS what I'm blogging about (but please forgive me if I go off on tangents..).
Our summary (the inside flap of the book):        "Harry Potter had never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility. All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley-- a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in eleven years. But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry-- and anyone who reads about him-- will find unforgettable."  

That place is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a giant castle where the Great Hall has a ceiling that looks like the night sky (and changes like the real one), where portraits talk, and teachers are experts in fields like Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and History of Magic-- which is taught by a ghost. 

This is the first magical education I ever encountered, and one of my absolute favorites. The school, like Groosham, is full of mystery and intrigue, but with one major difference: Harry thinks of it as his home. 

What exactly does Hogwarts do? 

Well, for those of you who have not had the pleasure yet to read this magnificent series, Hogwarts educates the next generation of witch's and wizards. Unlike Earthsea and The Worst Witch the school is co-ed. I don't know if that makes a difference, but it definitely is huge in the series. 

The school is divided into 4 houses: Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Gryffindor. These houses have students of every academic level (first through seventh years), which allows an interesting type of mentoring in every house. There a prefects which watch over their respective houses, and do tasks such as leading the first years out of the dining hall the first night. This accountability makes an interesting hierarchy inside the school itself, with prefects, head boy and girl, professors, and the headmaster (Albus Dumbledore) at the very top. 

Now, if you've read Harry's tale, then you know all of this. And now you're probably saying "well SO WHAT?!" 

The so what: This structure provides a very different learning environment. Unlike apprenticeships, Hogwarts provides the means for students to work together to solve academic problems (or, in Harry and Ron's case, Hermione solves their academic problems). It also makes an interesting dynamic with the professors. Professors give students the tools to work together. 

A major clue that supports that idea is: 

"Hermione rolled up the sleeves of her gown, flicked her wand, and said, 'Wingardrium Leviosa!' Their feather rose off the desk and hovered about four feet above their heads. 'Oh, well done!' cried Professor Flitwick, clapping. 'Everyone see here, Miss Granger's done it!'" 

Even though Ron is pretty mad at Hermione, it does signal to him and Harry that Hermione knows what she's doing. 

Flitwick calling attention to Hermione's success allows for students to know that she understands the work. Which leads to her eventually helping Ron and Harry (and for a few other reasons that I will not reveal, because I don't want to spoil it ;) )

This type of learning isn't possible in apprenticeships. When the mentor tries to teach you, hopefully you're a good student and understand the lesson. If not, well... you should probably find a different mentor, or a different vocation. 

Harry Potter seems, also, to have a direct link to Groosham Grange, not only in the boarding school idea, but also: 

"At the end of the book we learn that David and Jill 'would both be taking their first 'O' levels in the summer: Telepathy, Weather Control, Wax Modelling and (the trickiest of the four) Advanced Blood Sacrifice,' while Latin, reminding us of its importance in Hogwarts spells (based, presumably, on the actual history of witchcraft), figures prominently on the curriculum. We recall both the Hogwarts curriculum (Divination, Potions, History of Magic, and the rest) and the importance attached to O.W.L.s (Ordinary Wizarding Levels); both authors seem to be making use of the examination, O or Ordinary Levels, which for many years marked the end of British pupils' compulsory schooling.- Pat Pinsent"
So there seems to be a definite progression through the history of magic school. 

But where, oh where, do we go from here? 

**there are some examples of apprenticeships in this series, but they aren't until the later books (specifically books 3,4,5, and 6). 

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