Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Theme of Education
Hogwarts is a magical boarding school. The boarding school is a classic setting for British kid's fiction, but that's not the only reason why it's a good setting for the Harry Potter novels. As J.K. Rowling points out, "Of course it's been done before [... but] Hogwarts HAS to be a boarding school – half the important stuff happens at night! Then there's the security. Having a child of my own reinforces my belief that children above all want security, and that's what Hogwarts offers Harry" (source). Hogwarts is a magical setting that gives Harry comfort, but that also provides an interesting and potentially dangerous backdrop for his adventures. At the same time, it's a school. It's supposed to be a place where Harry is learning new things – not just book knowledge, but also personal discipline and wizarding culture. What kind of an education is Hogwarts providing Harry? How does his education differ from or resemble a Muggle school's?
Questions About Education
- How does Hogwarts prepare its students to join the wizard world? What careers has J.K. Rowling suggested might exist for wizards? As of Book 2, which Hogwarts classes would you find most useful in your own life? Which would you rather not take? Why?
- What cultural differences are there between Hogwarts's wizard-born and Muggle-born students? As a magic-user brought up by Muggles, how do Harry's assumptions about the wizarding world differ from those of wizard-raised students like Ron Weasley, who have been seeing magic since they were children?
- As an end-of-school treat to make up for the whole Chamber of Secrets disaster, Professor Dumbledore decides to cancel their final exams. What do you think of this decision? Does it reflect responsible educational policy? How might it affect the older students, particularly the seventh years?