To the Editors of the Owl Post and all of Hogwarts,
I am all for learning through experience. No matter how much you read out of a book, you’ll never learn something as efficiently as by practising the subject matter. However, I do draw the line at potentially lethal teaching methods.
I have personally witnessed today, Wednesday 2nd of September, on the very first Defence Against the Dark Arts class of the scholastic year 2022-2023 at Hogwarts School of Withcraft and Wizardry, precisely that line being crossed.
Professor Laurie Gothly, D.A.D.A. teacher and Slytherin Head of House, decided it would be a marvelous idea to poison a class full of students with Noxious Potion, after locking them inside. Amidst the thick green smoke filling the room, she casually asked the class to identify the poison they were inhaling as she spoke. Through severe coughing and suffering from temporary bouts of blindness, the picked students were eventually able to identify the poison, name its antidote and list the antidote’s ingredients, all whilst sweating through their thick robes and trying to cover their mouths and nostrils from the poisonous fumes.
As if that wasn’t going far enough, students were then instructed to brew their own antidote, while still being locked in the poisoned room, to save themselves a trip to the Hospital Wing or worse. The first years were lucky – the professor took pity on them and gave them a vial of antidote herself since they hadn’t had the chance to learn how to brew the required antidote. The rest of us… not so much.
Forget the fact that antidotes are usually taught during Potions class, more often than Defence. Forget, even, the fact that the class was comprised of students from Years 1 through 5 and have therefore had different levels of practice and familiarity with potion-making. Even forgetting these facts, a sensible person can conclude that this lesson was reckless and potentially lethal.
Potion-making is a complicated matter requiring attention to detail and great focus. The best time to brew an antidote is not in a smoky room filled with scurrying, panicking people whilst coughing one’s lungs out and hoping not to die. Sure, Noxious Potion isn’t lethal unless inhaled for a long time. But consider the fact that it takes a minimum of 30 minutes (assuming one owns an expensive copper cauldron) brew-time to concoct the antidote to it. Consider, moreover, that you are brewing under those conditions, and are prone to drinking anything you think is approximately similar to an antidote. You’re likely to be blind at this point!
The results could have been disastrous. What if someone messed up so badly they ended up poisoning themselves even worse? Perhaps lethally so. What if, in the confusion and rush, someone’s potion exploded, or the flames heating its contents reached someone’s robes or desk or some other flammable material? In the span of mere seconds, the situation could’ve turned into a tragedy. A death – maybe more – in a fiery inferno! During the very first week of term, no less.
It is therefore not surprising that Headmistress’ Fischer’s assurances that students are safe during the Sorting Ceremony last Saturday are taken with not a pinch, but with a bucket of salt. Is it not? I, for one, am shocked and appalled. My sincerest sympathies and well-wishes go to the unlucky students who wound up in the Hospital Wing after this mess. And best of luck with any future (by the way, compulsory) D.A.D.A. lessons. Hopefully we’ll all manage to survive the year in one piece.
A Concerned Student