Friday, July 10, 2009

Hogwarts Academy Under Intense Watchdog Scrutiny

Green People Soup was recently fortunate enough to interview Elena Ruggelmeyer, one of the founders of the world's leading anti-Hogwarts movement, What About the Children? In this, part 1 of our candid fireside chat, Elena let us and our readers know exactly why they believe Hogwarts does more harm than good, and what they aim to do about it.

Elena Ruggelmeyer - a pillar of community watchdogs the world over.

Green People Soup: Elena, if I may call you that, it's a pleasure to finally get a chance to sit down and talk about these important issues with you. If you were to read the newspaper, you wouldn't think anybody cared(this article will be published on page 18 of the Culture section). But to people like you and me, who actually care about the issues facing our children and their futures, there's nothing more important than making sure their education matters. So on behalf of the staff of Green People Soup, I'd like to congratulate you on your efforts to raise awareness of this potential problem.

Elena Ruggelmeyer: My mother named me Elena, so it's certainly fine to call me that. And it's a good point you make about the coverage this issue is getting; namely, none. That's really why I started What About the Children? - as a way to advocate their rights as citizens and as people. Clearly, your organization understands what we're about, and I'd like to extend the same gratitude you showed me a minute ago by saying I think what you do is fantastic.

GPS: That's great, I appreciate it. Now let's get down to business. To me, the number one issue is job security. Let's say you've been a student at Hogwarts all your life, and the time is approaching for you to go out and make your mark on the world. What's the job market like for graduates of Hogwarts?

ER: Pretty dismal, really.

GPS: Why is that?

ER: Well, for a number of reasons. For starters, there are only so many bounty hunter positions available at any given time. If you were to look at the wanted ads, for example, in the areas surrounding Hogwarts, you wouldn't see very many looking for magical protectors or hunters. Those jobs are already taken. So what I see happening is a lot of young, intelligent and talented people being led to believe this "school" is teaching them how to apply their skills in the real world, when in reality, it's just the opposite.

GPS: So they're basically being left high-and-dry.

ER: Exactly. It's not enough to excel at your craft. To be successful, you also have to be given, at some point, the opportunity to practice it. I suppose an ex-student could always turn to pure evil. I wouldn't recommend it, but there you have it.

GPS: So you're saying that the lack of career prospects could possibly turn good, caring people into evil wizards hell-bent on destruction of everything we hold dear?

ER: In theory, yes. The obvious example would be You-Know-Who. Ahem. I'm afraid I don't have the actual data on hand to back that up. I'll e-mail you a copy of it as soon as I return to my office.

This face is the possible future of your offspring.

GPS: I'd like that, yes. Moving on, I'd like to talk about the education Hogwarts provides its students. Do you think it's adequate?

ER: In some areas, yes. In others, it is disasterously under-funded. The quality of teachers any school would hope to attract generally relies on how much they are able to pay them, and Hogwarts is no exception. Just look at their Dark Arts department. They've been through how many teachers in the past three or four years? I've lost track. I think it's absurd to imagine any child learning proper defenses against the dark arts when they have to resort to secret meetings behind invisible doors where their actual teacher can't find them. What kind of a message does that send? It's ridiculous, and I can't believe we're the only ones who see it.

Not every student at Hogwarts can attend the secret Dark Arts Defense class.

GPS: You're certainly not, and I couldn't agree more. If I had a child at Hogwarts, I would expect them, after a year or two, to be able to lift me in the air and suspend me indefinitely while they made their escape. Not so. I've had friends' children try it on me; usually, they really suck at using magic.

ER: I think, generally, that's true. If I remember the statistics, only about 2 in every 10 students can be expected to properly invoke the Confundus charm or Flipendo jinx. That's unacceptable. If they were ever to find themselves in a situation where their life depended on correctly using these spells, they'd be done for. And as a parent, it's at least 10 grand down the toilet. Also the death of their child.

That's it for part 1 of our interview with Elena Ruggelmeyer, but stay tuned for part 2 shortly, as we've only scraped the tip of the iceberg as far as the issues at hand go. Hogwarts definitely has a lot of explaining to do, and Elena is here to help usher in that much-needed accountability.

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