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07/01/2003 Archived Entry: ""Risk-free" self-defense in Harry Potter"

THIS YEAR'S DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS TEACHER is a bureaucrat from the Ministry of Magic:

"Using defensive spells?" Professor Umbridge repeated with a little laugh. "Why, I can't imagine any situation arising in my classroom that would require you to use a defensive spell, Miss Granger. "Surely you aren't expecting to be attacked during class?"

"We're not going to use magic?" Ron ejaculated loudly. ...

[Said Hermione] "Surely the whole point of Defense Against the Dark Arts is to practice defensive spells?"

"Are you a Ministry-trained educational expert, Miss Granger?" asked Professor Umbridge in her falsely sweet voice.

"No, but --"

"Well, then, I'm afraid you are not qualified to decide what the 'whole point' of any class is. Wizards much older and cleverer than you have devised our new program of study. You will be learning about defensive spells in a secure, risk-free way --"

"What use is that?" said Harry loudly. "If we're going to be attacked it won't be in a --" ...

"I do not wish to criticize the way things have been run in this school," [Professor Umbridge] said with an unconvincing smile stretching her wide mouth, "but you have been exposed to some very irresponsible wizards in this class, very irresponsible indeed .... You have been introduced to spells that have been complex, inappropriate to your age group, and potentially lethal. ... Now, it is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be more than sufficient to get you through your expamination, which, after all, is what school is all about. ... I repeat, as long as you have studied the theory hard enough --"

"And what good's theory going to be in the real world?" said Harry loudly ...

Professor Umbridge looked up.

"This is school, Mr. Potter, not the real world," she said softly.

"So we're not supposed to be prepared for what's waiting out there?"

"There is nothing waiting out there, Mr. Potter. ... Who do you imagine wants to attack children such as yourselves? ..."

From Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, pps 242-244. With thanks to Hermit-on-the-Water for moving me up from #1181 on the library's hold list. :-)

Posted by Claire @ 02:58 PM CST

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