I don’t think there’s a single Harry Potter fan out there that hasn’t been sorted into a Hogwarts house.
Either by their personal choice or by visiting the sorting hat on Pottermore (or any other of the hundreds of quizzes on the Internet!), all of us identify as a Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin.
I find it really fun that we can bond with strangers on social media because of the fictional house we have in common. Kinda feels like all Potterheads are in on this big role-playing experience!
But on the other hand, I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of segregating people.
It’s one thing playing Gryffindor vs. Slytherin in the Harry Potter subreddit, creating a sense of community for all Potter fans, and other completely different thing to actually go to a school that divides their students by attributes. Especially if you attend said school at the very impressionable age of 11!
Here are the main drawbacks I would see in a real life Hogwarts (in bullet points for your convenience).
1. Three of the four Hogwarts founders discriminated students and wanted to admit only a few into their school. In the words of the Sorting Hat:
Said Slytherin, “We’ll teach just those
Whose ancestry’s purest.”
Said Ravenclaw, “We’ll teach those whose
Intelligence is surest.”
Said Gryffindor, “We’ll teach all those
With brave deeds to their name.”
Luckily, they were friends with good old Helga Hufflepuff:
Said Hufflepuff, “I’ll teach the lot
And treat them just the same.”
And I do understand that the founders of a school have the right to deny admissions because, well, it’s their school after all. But I still feel weird about it. Shouldn’t their main goal be sharing knowledge and educating the newest generations of wizards, without discrimination? If they didn’t have Hufflepuff I think Hogwarts would look like a super elitist school.
2. The houses create unnecessary segregation.
Okay, maybe the founders felt really passionate about only teaching those that “deserved” it. But why would Hogwarts keep dividing their students hundreds of years later? If they wanted to keep the names of the founders relevant they could make some fraternities/sororities for the students that wanted to join. And maybe only for those 15-16 and older (because of what I explain in my next point).
3. I think the houses would add extra pressure and expectations for the youngest students.
I’m taking myself as an example since I know how my head works (most of the time). If I went to Hogwarts as an 11 year old girl, I would be really happy to belong to a house, any house, because it would make me feel included since the first day. But… I think being surrounded by all those kids with very similar goals, ideologies and traits would make me focus on those same goals, ideologies and traits only. I admit it, I was a very impressionable 11 year old. So if at that age some talking hat told me I belonged in the house of the brave, I would feel pressured to be worthy of that title and I would feel like my house was my identity. And if it put me in the house of the most intelligent, I would take it really seriously and make perfect grades my goal in life. Even if this is not the intention of having the houses, I would personally feel the need to fit in with my clique.
4. Also, as an introvert, I would probably be like Harry and 99% of my friends would be from my same house.
So even though I would share some classes with kids from the other houses, I would mostly talk with the ones that spend most time near me. This means growing up surrounded by people very similar to me. And that’s not fun! People definitely need to have their ideas questioned and to go out of their comfort zone from time to time. I think this would affect Slytherins the most, since some of them come from magic-racist families that have been feeding them their ideologies at home, and then go on and spend most of their time with the children of other magic-racist families. It would be awesome if Hogwarts encouraged these kids to spend time with muggle-born kids, or muggle-supporter kids. And not only in Quidditch matches or in Potion class (competitive settings), but in common rooms and dorms, where people could actually develop friendships.
5. It’s not easy getting rid of stereotypes. The main one, I guess, is that Slytherins are evil.
I see how the house got this reputation since their founder was a pure-blood supremacist and his house was founded on this ideology. This is also the reason most pure-blood advocates go to this house. The thing is: NOT ALL OF THEM think this way! I felt so bad for Slytherins when their whole house was banned from the Battle of Hogwarts! It was a perfect example of the way other houses think of them and judge them as a group (teachers included). They didn’t trust them, even though some (or maybe most) of those students weren’t Voldemort supporters.
6. Honestly, I think Hogwarts should divide their students into random houses. Not Gryffindor or Hufflepuff, just random, no-name houses.
This way they would still create this experience of “belonging” to a house, but the house wouldn’t have a stereotype or a certain main trait attached to it. It would also mean that students would spend their 7 years at Hogwarts living together with other students that might have completely different ideas or value different traits. They might share dorms with pure-blood supporters and half-bloods and muggle-borns. And there wouldn’t be a rivalry between houses just because the founders disagreed on something a hundred years ago.
What do you guys think about this topic?
To add a sort of conclusion, I think Hogwarts houses are not necessarily a bad idea. But the school life would be way better if teachers focused on promoting healthy competition instead of house rivalry. I think on one hand, having houses encourages team work and strengthens the bond between classmates. On the other hand, being assigned to a house since the first day makes you part of a clique from the beginning. (As @pikamikareads mentioned on my Instagram post:) it’s like high school all over again, with people divided into groups that define your identity and popularity.
Also, let me clarify that I’m writing this post because I have nothing better to do right now. I don’t have real serious opinions on the topic of fictional wizarding schools 😛
And I know that we all love being part of the things we like. That’s why Harry Potter fans (or Game of Thrones fans, etc) like to pick a symbol that makes them part of THE SOMETHING. So in general I like the idea of Hogwarts houses as a thing of fiction.
By the way, if you’re not a Gryffindor your house sucks!