When watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I observed the different teaching philosophies that McGonagall, Sprout, and Umbridge display within the varied classroom setting.
In evaluating Professor McGonagall’s teaching practices at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I noticed that she incorporates and demonstrates three educational philosophies, namely essentialism, perennialism and progressivism.
Professor McGonagall is known and well respected by both students and professors for her high level of student and classroom expectations. McGonagall is known for her strict, no-nonsense demeanor and as the master of her classroom. Because of the common culture that exists between both student and professor, she has gained the respect of all of her students. While her teaching strategies are traditional she is training their minds to promote reasoning.
McGonagall uses great books by Hogwarts finest thinkers and writers, while teaching them the traditional educational values of reading, writing, and arithmetic. At the beginning of class, she warns her students that anyone messing around will be forced to leave and not be welcomed back. She states, “you have been warned” (McGonagall). She provides her students with instructional demonstrations, where students are asked to conduct group experiments, such as the project-based learning approach. Her students tend to be inquisitive and ask many questions and in turn, she provides them with the help that is needed by roaming the classroom and answering their questions when needed.
Overall, McGonagall utilizes three of the five teaching philosophies: essentialism, perennialism and progressivism. In the film, I believe that Warner Brother Studios chose to exemplify these three philosophies within McGonagall because they wanted to create a character who was a good example of moral ethics as well as honorable. She is capable of demonstrating both sides of the spectrum, the teacher-child-classroom relationship as well as the student driven classroom relationships. She is able to allow the students to flourish in their creativity.
Alongside McGonagall, Professor Sprout also uses the philosophy of progressivism in her classroom. She is a cheerful, roly poly teacher, who is well liked by her students. Her philosophy offers a hands-on learning experience in an outdoor classroom setting.
Within her class, she teaches them how to repot a Mandrake plant. She provides them with step-by-step instructions while also advising them of the dangers of their activity. The students are given tools for protection, then proceed with caution as she explains and demonstrates what they will do. She double checks their work and asks for understanding.
From this we can gather that she is an encouraging and thoughtful teacher who focuses on the individual’s learning and progression throughout the time in her class. Her teaching philosophy of progressivism allows them to gain real-world experiences that can be utilized during their years at Hogwarts. There is no testing in her classroom, the pupil’s education is built around their experience, while they focus on one discipline at a time. Professor Sprout’s education states that, “if a single pupil wants to come, then the school ought to remain open for that pupil” (Professor Sprout).
Ultimately, I feel that Warner Brother Studios chose to show Professor Sprout in a way where progressivism is seen in a nurturing light, because the students face peril, evil, darkness, and restriction of creativity among other professors within the school. In my own classroom, I would adopt Professor Sprouts way of teaching in a progressive light, we see that she is very encouraging, supportive, and allows students to lead and she follows in their footsteps.
Consequently, we observe that Professor Umbridge adopts a completely different philosophy when teaching her students. The philosophy she demonstrates in her classroom, is essentialism.
Professor Umbridge’s demonstrates this by standing in front of the class as she teaches them which gives her a sense of superiority which exemplifies the idea of teachers being in charge. When she does this, she is imparting her wisdom and knowledge so that the students may learn from her instead of discovering on their own. She is endowing them with her great wisdom and knowledge.
Umbridge is viewed as the mouthpiece for the Ministry of Magic’s political stand on the practices and policies that govern Hogwarts. This teacher intimidates her students with an iron fist approach telling them there will be discipline, order, and obedience in her classroom. She has a set of classroom rules in place where speaking is never an option. She does not call her students by their names but refers to them as “children” (Umbridge). Because there will be no talking in class without her permission, Professor Umbridge insists they raise their hands.
What she teaches her students is that they will gain knowledge through their examinations, she believes school is about studying and test taking. She also warns the students not to question her methods and compares this act to doubting the Ministry. Students quietly sit at their desks and write with pen and paper and rote information from their textbooks. Instead of focusing on the student’s opinions, she only deems the Ministries and her own as the guiding force in the classroom.
The filmmakers chose to portray Umbridge in this traditional, old school way of teaching where students are to be seen but not heard. However, despite Umbridge’s views on how the classroom should be run, I would not agree. When teaching my future students, I would not adopt this theory. I would want to find more creative ways and other avenues that would allow them to test their understanding of subject other than her test taking methods. I would allow my students to have a voice and that their opinions are welcome.
After viewing the film and being able to critique the different educational philosophies that are presented, I was able to solidify my own teaching philosophy which is one of acceptance, encouraging creativity, understanding, and helping my students to pursue their interest while also being a role model. Overall, this film showed me the more effective ways of teaching students in a way that allows their creativity to flow and where they feel the most comfortable. The student’s dislike for Umbridge and adoration for McGonagall was blatantly obvious and continuously shown throughout the film which made it all the more obvious on which professors’ philosophies encourages and discourages learning. The level of respect, learning, and relationship development that occurred between student and professor is what appealed to me the most when watching this film. What was discouraging, was the amount of forceful rules and discipline that professors like Umbridge displayed which eliminated students excitement for learning. When subjected to this environment, students are not able to progress during their academic years at Hogwarts. This film allowed me to cohesively see and understand the different philosophies that are brought into the classroom and how they affect the learning environment as a whole.