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Oct 30 2019 - 02:16 PM
Archive Deep Dive: Hogwarts is Not As Magical As It Seems

Though surely fodder for many a childhood fantasy, an acceptance letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry may not be as desirable a prize as the Harry Potter franchise would have you believe.

In the 2005 article “No Wizard Left Behind”, then-Teachers College President Arthur E. Levine speaks truth to power (or, rather, to a famously devoted fan base): Hogwarts, we are sad to report, is a sham of a school! Drawing upon his expertise in the field of education, Levine outlines with satirical outrage all the ways that Hogwarts has failed it students, its faculty, and its societal obligations. 

“No Wizard Left Behind” is emblematic of Levine’s reputation as a radically honest but highly respected figure within higher education and beyond. 

Levine served as the President of TC from 1994 to 2006, spearheading several milestones for the College including tripling endowment, strengthening academic departments, and refocusing the mission of the College on educational equity. 

A well-known critic of teacher education programs, Levine launched an intensive research initiative toward the end of his tenure as TC president that not only analyzed the current state of teacher education schools in America, but provided actionable recommendations for how to improve these institutions. The initiative culminated in a thorough but accessible multi-part report, each section centered on a different agent within the education system: school administrators, classroom teachers, and education researchers.

Image: Arthur E. Levine, former President of Teachers College, Columbia University

Of Hogwarts, Levine admonishes the lack of professionalism (“[Teachers] are kept on in spite of being incompetent and engaging in inappropriate relationships with students - such as trying to kill them.”), the limited curriculum (“Students exclusively study utilitarian subjects related to magic. Expectations are low.”), the allowance of lethal weapons on school grounds (“Certainly [conservatives] would demand metal detectors and police on campus, but would be likely to balk at wand control. The NWA (National Wand Association) would be a force to reckon with here, as well.”), and more.  

At the time of Levine’s resignation as President, William Rueckart, co-chair of the TC Board of Trustees, said, “There is only one Arthur Levine. We've been lucky enough to have him for over a decade, but his impact — both here and on education schools in general — will be felt for far longer."  

Indeed, we who spend our days wafting through TC’s many historical artifacts were delighted to stumble upon Levine’s characteristically frank but humorous take on the schooling of young wizards and witches. We invite you to share in our joy by exploring the Arthur E. Levine Collection on PocketKnowledge!

Posted in: Learning at the LibraryResearch|By: Cinthia Fabian|1943 Reads