Harry Potter came into my life when I was about 10, the perfect age to receive a letter from Professor McGonagall, delivered by an owl, inviting me to commence my own magical adventure. Naturally, like any other well-educated child that perfectly embodied sanity and not escapist in any conceivable way, I waited in angst, spending hours scanning the skies for that damned bird. Alas, even then, part of me always knew that it was not meant to be.
Because I am not British.
However, looking back, I have reasons to be grateful that the silly wish never materialized beyond childish daydreaming. 10 reasons, to be exact. As an adult who has long moved on from such impracticality, despite still taking the unhealthy amount of time writing an article called "10 Reasons Why Hogwarts Is The Worst School Ever", here are the reasons why Hogwarts never was the paradise that J.K. Rowling led us to believe.
10. Curfew and Other Rules
It should come as no surprise that an ancient institute like Hogwarts has a myriad of rules and prohibitions that nobody other than Filch or Hermione would be able or even willing to memorize. Among the confusing regulations is your everyday school curfew that forbids students from leaving their dorms after a certain time, which surely is the one rule everybody must break once or twice. Admittedly Hogwarts is rather lax in this regard, even the guardians of their common rooms, such as Fat Lady for Gryffindor, don't remotely give a crap as long as you don't disturb her beauty naps.
It's the punishment that really blows this problem out of the proportion. Getting caught breaking the curfew or other not-so-major rules, you would most likely get a few house points docked off and a detention. While the amount of house points taken already lacks any clear and fair standard beyond the mood of the staff who caught you, it's with detentions that sh** gets REAL.
Because detentions apparently range from trivialities such as "copy a few lines" and "help clean the corridors" to the likes of "physical torture" and "go happy hunting in the Forbidden Forest full of lethal creatures for an unknown beast powerful enough to murder multiple unicorns". JEEZUS! I mean Merlin's Beard! I'm sorry I stole some candy, okay? Can I please not DIE for that?
9. Suck at Quidditch? You're Done!
If you ever have any aspiration in sports, you'd better make one hell of an effort at the trials, to become one of the 7 players for the Quidditch team of your house. Because guess what? There are no alternatives! For some reason, Quidditch is the only sport anybody cares about not only at Hogwarts, but in the wizarding world in general. There's no broomstick racing or anything else.
I guess you can try out for those chess clubs sporadically mentioned in the books because, that's where the cool kids are. Oh, there also was a duel club which sounds absolutely awesome, and lasted for exactly one session.
8. There Is No Privacy To Speak Of
Schools are very public places by definition, and privacy has always been something of a luxury for students seeking a bit of "me time". But Hogwarts goes above and beyond in making sure that nobody can have a true moment of personal peace.
For starters, you live in a dormitory shared with 5 others. You share the common room and classrooms with other students. But the living is not what you should particularly worry about. Everywhere you go, the paintings are watching, the suits of armor are listening, and the ghosts might float through your walls at any given second.
Not to mention there are a**holes running around under Invisibility Cloaks and some highly-morally-controversial magical map, which monitors everybody's location in real time. Why is nobody questioning how creepy and disturbing that is?
7. Muggle Technology or Magic?
Here's where us Muggle-borns will inevitably struggle. All electronic or other normal technologies will immediately lose effect upon entering Hogwarts' unspecified range. If you happen to be a tech person, be prepared to ditch your cellphones and laptops to the bottom of your trunk and start using owls to deliver your letters written with quills and ink on pieces of parchment.
For me, the greatest superiority of magic over muggle tech, is the convenience of Apparition (teleportation) over our normal means of travel. But even that cannot be performed within Hogwarts. Floating candles are magical and whimsical, but are they really more effective than electric light?
To be fair, the best outcome could be a combination of magic and technology, the best of both worlds, such as Mr. Weasley's flying car. But nope, apparently wizards are so short-sighted that they actively move against progress. In fact, the flying car is made outright illegal. Maybe Kamar-taj is a better choice for magical education. At least they have Wi-fi, and something tells me you already know the password.
6. Little To No Entertainment
To sum it up, there is only one sport declared watchable in the community, which you likely cannot participate and only get to watch during the few and far between House Cup games. You cannot watch professional games such as World Cup on live broadcast because there is no TV. Well I guess they have radio. Yay (*dry face*).
Beyond sports, they have no magical equivalents for Internet, TV, or video games. People spend their leisure times playing chess, exploding cards, or reading (if you're Hermione). Sure there are games you can play with magic, but generally we never got to know what Hogwarts students do with their time with so little choices for entertainment.
5. Housing Prejudice
The Housing tradition of Hogwarts has always raised more issues than it solved, and it's deeply unsettling to ponder upon. Freshmen, or first-years, are sorted into the four houses upon their initial arrival, in the Sorting Ceremony before the Start-of-Term Feast. The outcome of the ceremony is determined by the judgement of a magical hat on your character, personality and personal ambition (or lack thereof), which sounds awfully like the build-your-character level of an RPG game.
What's really disturbing is the toll it takes on the students' ensuing school life in every respect. Of how accurately the Sorting Hat has been in probing their potentials, we have no means of knowing. What we do know is that a sorted child is immediately recognized to possess the categorized feature associated with the house and regarded as such by family, friends, teachers and themselves. In most cases, they would be shaped into the designated type of individual in a sense of self-fulfilling prophecy. Even the Hat admitted in Order of the Phoenix that this system may have been bulls**t all along.
"Though I must fulfil my duty
And must quarter every year
Still I wonder whether sorting
May not bring the end I fear "
Yes, the Hat respects your own choice and choices are what define us, as Dumbledore pointed out. Because 11-year-olds are capable of making life-defining decisions. The Sorting ensures that in Hogwarts, you're either a brave chevalier, or a smartass, or a loser, or a backstabbing jerk. What? You disagree? I'm sorry, you ARE the whichever group you belong to. That's how it works.
4. Limited Prospect After Graduation
First and foremost, a Hogwarts graduate will be confined in the magical realm, since he would obviously know nothing about maths, literature, finance, science, language or any knowledge/skill that would help him establish a living in the muggle world. And as we previously hinted at, there aren't an awful lot of thriving industries in the wizarding community.
Around half of the population seems to be working as civil servants at various departments of the Ministry of Magic, or at least that's how it's presented. The rest face a society of monopoly in all regards available, go financing in that one bank, go healing in that one hospital, go journalising for that one media, go teaching in that one school (which deprives all other respects in personal life) or go pro with that one sport.
In rare cases, you get to start your own business like Fred and George, but it's unlikely to go too big in such a stale and restricted economy.
3. It Gets Political
When done in the right way, students involving themselves in politics beyond school boundaries is something to be encouraged. The precondition being that they do so on their own account, while in Hogwarts it happens the other way around.
Being the only magical school in the country (presumably), Hogwarts is responsible for nurturing most, if not all, of future Ministry officials, it is no surprise then that the Ministry would take an interest in its development. However our protagonists learned in the painful way that the Ministry could take over anytime they feel like it. Not to mention it becomes one of the most prominent targets in wartime.
2. Education Quality Is...Questionable
The one thing Hogwarts has proudly upheld is its unshakable status of "world's greatest magical school". Wait, we learned in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that it's more of a matter of national pride than global consensus. Damn!
Generally speaking, Hogwarts assembled a very impressive set of educational staff, with some of the most revered names in the field, not to mention the most powerful wizard of the entire freakin' history as its headmaster. Yet it's also painfully obvious that sometimes Dumbledore simply doesn't give a crap.
With a staff that includes Hagrid, who is simply no teaching material and can get dangerously reckless; Prof. Binns, who single-handedly made sure that nobody can ever have any passion for history; Lockhart, who outright is a fraud; Trelawney, who is also a hack but kept around just in the unlikely case that she makes a real prophecy about Voldemort again; Quirrell and fake Moody who are Death Eaters...the gap between certain professors and others is appalling. What makes it worse is that Hogwarts follows a one-teacher-per-subject policy. In other words, if one teacher fails to deliver, you just have give up this branch of your academic life for good because it's not getting any better.
1. It's Way Too Dangerous!!!!
At different points during Harry's studentship, the castle and grounds of Hogwarts has hoarded potential hazards including, but not even close to limited to, a three-headed massive dog, an uncontrollable nest of flesh-eating acromantula (giant spiders, if you're wondering), a pipe-creeping purist Basilisk with poisonous fangs and a murderous stare, soul-consuming Dementors, a werewolf on meds, dragons, terrorists flagrantly hired as teachers, abusive bureaucratic bi**c, angry centaurs, half-giant, and the school itself becoming the focal point of the magical equivalent of a world war, after a full year serving as a youth concentration camp.
Sounds like an ideal place for your child to spend his/her puberty, doesn't it? Magic and herbs might be able to mend bones and heal lacerations, but what Hogwarts sorely lacks is a therapist specialized in PTSD induced psychosis. Maybe I'm being overdramatic, but hey, it's a school-themed teenage story, that ended up with a death toll.
Perhaps I have grown too old for Gryffindor, but no child of mine is going through that trauma just to able to wave a wooden stick. Nope! I'm currently considering Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters or Jedi Academy on Coruscant. It'll be way safer, I'm sure.
Maybe it's a good thing that some childhood dreams remain in the fantasyland, isn't it? As a responsible adult of sound body and mind, I hereby conclude my rant and return to reality.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go feed my owl. Poor thing just finished her delivery run.
Kevin Cheng (author) from Hong Kong on March 18, 2018:
Thanks Dina, Harry Potter is right up top of my favorite subjects in the world. Definitely gonna write more. I'm sure Slughorn will adore you, well, that's if he gets to know you. He has this problem of flat out ignoring Muggle-born students. You just gotta be crazy good at Potions.
Dina AH from United States on March 12, 2018:
This article was so good, Kevin. Very thoughtful, but still amusing. I personally never dreamed of going to Hogwarts, because I'd be too anxious just at the Sorting Hat's placement over my head. I'm just like, "Nope. No. Get off my head...hat." I think my other anxiety-inducing thing is professors like Slughorn? Dude, it'd be a blow to my self-esteem if he doesn't like me for some reason. But, if he does like me, then the pressure would be too much for me to handle. Besides, like, bullying is a thing at Hogwarts that goes unchecked. Probably lots of time crying in the bathroom, a la Moaning Myrtle style. I hope you write more Harry Potter stuff!! Your perspective is great.
Kevin Cheng (author) from Hong Kong on April 09, 2017:
LOL, I'd be up for a tour, but no way I'm staying over a week.
Ced Yong from Asia on April 09, 2017:
They use like, giant trolls for security. I wouldn't go near Hogwarts myself, if I can avoid it. LOL.
pete carillo on April 09, 2017:
NEVER! the very thought of it is scarry...very scarry!! It's demonic!