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Thread: Your View on the House System at Hogwarts

  1. #11
    Fifth Year Slytherin
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    Annalise28's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
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    Meg, it seems you've put a great deal of thought into this. And despite being slightly sad to abolish the house system, and therefore take away the amazing magic of it, it makes a lot of sense to take it away.

    I think it would be nice to be sorted privately at the end of seventh year, as Sydney said.

    I think that students should still be sorted, for Quidditch and House Cup purposes. But if they are the only things affected by the houses (new ones, too, that are randomly sorted), maybe there would be a tonne less prejudice. If less focus is placed on the cup, then students won't be that worried about what house they're in and who wins. Of course they'll care, but it will be vaguely forgotten about after a few weeks - like Muggle schools. But it still makes me sad to take away some of the magic of Hogwarts *sigh*

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  2. #12
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
    Sapphire at Dawn's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    Here, there and everywhere
    When first reading the book, I remember being quite surprised just how much empahsis they put on the house system. In every school I've been to, there have been systems in place. We had house meetings once every two weeks, and, in the final and first school, the houses were merely there to provide sports competions. In the middle school, we had a merit system and the house with the most merits at the end of each year (or was it term? I can't remember) won the House Cup, as well as inter-house sports.

    I think that, with Hogwarts, the house system could be kept, but that it shouldn't be the dividing factor because it does create a lot of tension and deeper rivalries than the house systems I experienced. The sixth-form I went to was primarily a boarding school, and for seven years of students, there were four boarding houses. One for the year sevens (first-years, in Hogwarts terms), two for years eight through to eleven (second years to fifth years), and one for year elevens and sixth formers (fifth years to seventh years). It would encourage much more inter house unity and create less tension if the Hogwarts students were housed like this. I think that the house system should be kept, because it's traditional and provides a bit of healthy competition between the students, but mixing the students from the off would help to reduce the negative feelings. It'll never get rid of them entirely because the students are sorted due to personality, but it would encourage people to be more tolerant.

    Dumbledore seems to be one of the most biased in favor of his house (which was Gryffindor). He is much more covert about it than Professor Snape is, but it could be argued that he is almost or just as biased as Professor Snape. How Gryffindor won the House Cup in Harry’s first year is an excellent example of this.
    I completely agree with this. I really dislike how Gryffindor win the House Cup in the first book, and I always have done, even when I was an eight year old reading it for the first time. I remember thinking it was really unfair and sneaky of Dumbledore to do that, and very unlike the chivalrous image carved for the Gryffindors. But, back then, Harry Potter was a book for children, and it was in the interest of providing a good read for children that the 'good guys' won. JKR probably had no idea when she wrote that scene what the series would become, and that one day, there would be random people picking apart that scene on the internet. I wonder if she would write that part differently now, if she had the opportunity.

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  3. #13
    Seventh Year Hufflepuff
    minnabird's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    I've just rediscovered this topic - because, for some reason, I kind of couldn't find it after I first made it - and I really enjoyed reading over the discussion.

    I hadn't known that there were house systems in real-world schools - what can I say, I've gone to typical American private schools all my life - but it's interesting to find that out. I agree that some of the magic and atmosphere of Hogwarts comes from the emphasis on the houses, but also a lot of tension and prejudice might have been avoided had the Founders not set up the house system as it was. Of course, a lot of that tension/prejudice helped the story along. But since we're considering the wizarding world apart from just the story laid down in the books, it really can be seen as a bad system in a lot of ways.

    Most of the arguments I could have made have already been made, so I just want to expand on something Psi said -

    Random thought - perhaps pupils could be sorted when they leave school instead. So you would have four randomly assigned houses throughout school, and then when you leave you get the big once-a-lifetime sorting. It could even be done in private, and it would turn it into quite a nice, personal, reflective experience for people about to enter the adult world for the first time.
    I kind of love it! I think what could work as a good compromise, if the wizarding world was unwilling to part with the house system as it was, is having that extra Sorting at the end, in private, just so graduating students could think over their own personalities and the housing system, and gain a better understanding of themselves and others.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by minnabird
    I hadn't known that there were house systems in real-world schools - what can I say, I've gone to typical American private schools all my life - but it's interesting to find that out.
    I went to two high schools, (state, not public.) One where the house system was very very important, and interestingly, the house cup and other prizes were generally fought out between two houses every year, and seemed to have been for a fairly long time. (Although it was the yellow and blue houses that were the two front runners!) You were assigned a form by your house, so for the first year you have most of your lessons with just your house, although with maths and English they sort of semi-setted us, so we shared lessons with another form/house. After the first year the whole year was setted, so classes has pupils from every house, although you still had registration with your house, and also classes like PE and some other classes that wern't setted.

    The second school I went to didn't care about houses at all. You got put in a house, but the form groups were a mix of all houses, and you could earn house points, but the whole school didn't really seem to care about winning points for the house, although lots of people tried to earn points for themselves, as there were individual prizes awarded. During my last year they started appointing house captains who tried to get some competition going, but thw whole school culture was not built around the house system - it was much more focused on competition between individuals.

    In my experience, both school systems did equally well in terms of developing competition. The first school did really build a team atmosphere, and it provided a wide range of activities so that everyone could compete for their team - not just the sports day and earn points for academic acheivements, but they also had a massive end of term competition that lasted all week and you could compete in categories from music, art, writing, drama, etc. That said, I think the two houses that tended not to do so well, did have a bad reputation and the pupils in them tended to be a bit less involved. There was some suggestion that the 'sorting' was not quite random and the yellow and blue houses tended to end up with the kids who were brighter/had more talent. :/ Although my second school didn't have such a big house system, the focus on individual achievement and competition was good, and they provided plenty of other opportunities to develop teamwork.

    And this has gotten a little off topic, :P

    I do think that if the teachers were a little less biased then the house system could still work well, based on my experiences in a school with a very competitive house system. I did once write a fic far in the future, where the house system was still in place, but some of the divisions had broken down, so pupils sat at different tables, and only sat according to their house for the big events. Friendly competition, rather than out and out rivalry should be the aim. I don't know if it would ever happen. You almost need a break where no one if sorted - like fourteen years of no sorting, or random sorting, to break the patterns a bit, and then maybe start it up again to try and reduce the deap seated assuptions about each house.

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