55

Far be it from me to accuse the Hogwarts teachers of not working hard enough but I struggle to see how Flying Teacher is really a full-time occupation. As far as I can tell, Madame Hooch has two main jobs:

  • Teaching the first-year students how to fly (classes aren't mentioned after The Philosopher's Stone so I'm assuming that they are only for first-years).
  • Refereeing the six inter-House Quidditch matches over the course of the year.

I would've expected that this would merit a part-time role with Hooch perhaps coming to stay at Hogwarts for the duration of the flying lessons (which maybe lasted two or three months) and then coming back at weekends when there was a match to referee.

However, The Prisoner of Azkaban seems to imply that she's there the whole year.

"Well, goodness knows, I'd like to see us win the Cup at last...but all the same, Potter...I'd be happier if a teacher were present. I'll ask Madam Hooch to oversee your training sessions."

(Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 9, Grim Defeat).

She's still there later in the year when Wood has increased the number of training sessions to five a week.

Madam Hooch, who was still overseeing Gryffindor practices to keep an eye on Harry, was just as impressed with the Firebolt as everyone else had been.

(Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 13, Gryffindor verses Ravenclaw)

So is Madam Hooch a permanent resident teacher like the others? Is there any canon evidence that she has additional responsibilities beyond those that I've laid out here?

  • 18
    Maybe she lives in hogsmeade so it's not too much trouble for her to come out for quidditch matches and the occasional practice? – dunraven Apr 25 '16 at 12:32
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    As your quotes suggest, she may assist all practices and help the different hogwart's teams to improve... – max pnj Apr 25 '16 at 12:34
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    We dont see 90% of Harrys day-to-day schedule at Hogwarts, so its not outside reason that there are lots of boring lessons we don't see, including flying lessons. After all, I learned to swim when I was 5, but I still had swimming lessons for the next 10 years of my life thanks to the various schools I went to... – Moo Apr 25 '16 at 12:36
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    @Skooba, Gryffindors and Slytherins learned together, which implies that there were two first-year classes of around 50. So she probably taught two classes a week. – The Dark Lord Apr 25 '16 at 13:05
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    She drank, of course. Where did you think she got her name from? – terdon Apr 26 '16 at 14:59
59

She was likely not a full-time teacher

Rolanda Hooch doesn’t appear much in the books (even less in the films) and there is no proper Pottermore article on her (only a characters-from-the-films page, which isn’t by Rowling), so there is—to my knowledge—no canon information to answer this decisively. The way I’ve always read things in my head, however, matches what dunraven’s comment above says, that she was probably not a permanent, full-time teacher at Hogwarts.

There are a few things that hint at this, though only circumstantially:

 

1. Her age might indicate retirement

If we accept the Philosopher’s Stone video game (sorry, Wiki link) as canon, then Rolanda Hooch’s broom was singed during the Great War (i.e., the First World War). Presuming that she had left Hogwarts before she had anything to do with the War, she would have been born no later than 1900, making her at least 90 years old at the time of the Harry Potter books. (The fact that she falls asleep during one of the Quidditch practice sessions that she oversees may be an indicator of somewhat advanced age.)

As such, it would seem plausible that she has retired from any actual, full-time teaching career she may have had (whatever she may have taught), and is now more loosely connected to Hogwarts, coming in to teach flying lessons to first-years and oversee various other broom-related events, such as Quidditch training and matches, when called for. If she lives in Hogsmeade, this should be fairly easy to arrange even on short notice. In fact, as pointed out in the comments, it should be fairly easy to arrange even if she doesn’t live in Hogsmeade: she could easily apparate from more or less anywhere in the country to Hogsmeade and walk the short distance from there into the school grounds. Communication doesn’t seem to be an issue either: both owls and Floo network communication seem to work very well (when Umbridge isn’t Headmaster, that is).

There’s also nothing in the parts quoted in the question here that goes against this: McGonagall only says, “I’ll ask Madam Hooch to oversee your training sessions”, which would still be perfectly logical if Madam Hooch was in frequent communication with the school and on call to come by for such things.

 

2. She’s never referred to as Professor

We know that she has an office at Hogwarts,1 so I would say she must be considered a member of staff (though having an office doesn’t necessarily make her a full-time member of staff, of course). To a certain degree, the students probably also think of her as ‘one of the teachers’. But it is notable that she is consistently referred to as Madam Hooch, never Professor Hooch.

The title Madam seems to be a fairly generic term of respect towards witches in general in the Potterverse: it is used with various witches like Madam Rosmerta and Madam (Amelia) Bones, for example. It is also, importantly, used for the only other two non-teaching female members of staff at Hogwarts we know of: Madam Pince the librarian, and Madam Pomfrey the healer. (I don’t quite consider Mrs Norris staff.)

All the members of staff that teach, however, are consistently referred to as Professor, regardless of gender: Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Professor Snape, Professor Marchbanks, Professor Trelawney, etc. The only exception to this is Firenze and, well, he’s a centaur. During the first class with him, we even see that Parvati Patil seems rather unsure of what to call him:

“Please – er – sir –” said Parvati breathlessly
Order of the Phoenix, ch. 27: “The Centaur and the Sneak”

 

3. Her general absence

Finally, there is the simple fact that, apart from the flying lessons and the Quidditch training/matches where she appears, we never see Madam Hooch at all in the books. All the other teachers that play an actual part in the book make random little appearances throughout, showing that even if there aren’t any actual scenes with them, they’re still around. But no one ever runs into Madam Hooch in the hallway or anything like that, and even when something happens that involves most of the teachers in one way or another (like Fred and George spreading mayhem before flying off, at which point we see Flitwick wondering if he has the authority, McGonagall telling Peeves a chandelier unscrews the other way, etc.), she is absent.2

The only other teacher in a somewhat similar situation would be Professor Trelawney, who never shows up outside her own rather limited teaching schedule either (except for a few select scenes: her near-sacking, the Christmas lunch, her sherry-hiding foray, and of course the Battle of Hogwarts—where Madam Hooch is also absent, incidentally). Unlike Madam Hooch, though, who is very much an outdoorsy person and would likely to bonkers if she had to stay cooped up inside a castle (not to mention an office in a castle) all the time, Professor Trelawney is more than happy to remain in her solitarily stifling tower chambers fiddling with her crystal ball and sherry bottles, so there’s less to wonder about there, and her nigh-complete absence is easier to explain than Madam Hooch’s would be.

The fact that Madam Hooch is absent from pretty much everything but her actual (conjectured) teaching duties is a good indication that she simply isn’t there the rest of the time.


1 From Chamber of Secrets, ch. 10 ‘The Rogue Bludger’: “But the Bludgers have been locked in Madam Hooch’s office since our last practice, and there was nothing wrong with them then …’ said Wood, anxiously.”

2 Even at the Start of Term Feast in Philosopher’s Stone where Dumbledore says that students wishing to try out for Quidditch teams should contact Madam Hooch, she is never mentioned as being present, though it’s possible she was.

  • 3
    Yes, we know they have substitute teachers on call, so why not part-time too? And as for Professor Trelawney, I rather think she filled her time with sherry rather than with her crystal ball. (Her, um, 'excesses' in the 5th year didn't come out of nowhere...) – davidbak Apr 25 '16 at 16:29
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    @davidbak I think she'd be quite up to the task of combining the two. ;-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 25 '16 at 16:42
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    So the use of adjunct faculty has bled over into the wizarding world? – Michael Seifert Apr 25 '16 at 17:26
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    Does it matter if she lives nearby, in Hogsmeade? She could apparate there from anywhere in the UK. – Azor Ahai Apr 25 '16 at 17:53
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    @Azor-Ahai Good point—my Muggle mindset had me in a box there. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 25 '16 at 18:19
12

High schools in the US (ages 15-18 or so) have "Drivers' Education" classes, or at least they did when I was in HS, where they teach you to drive a car, usually sometime close to when you turn legal driving age (16 where I grew up).

I can see a similar need at Hogwarts for educating young witches and wizards about safely operating a broom. I can't recall anything from the books beyond what you mentioned, but I can imagine it would be at least a part-time job.

The Drivers' Ed teacher at my school was a full-time instructor. He was also the soccer coach, so there's precedent for that as well!

  • 3
    How big was your school? – Rogue Jedi Apr 25 '16 at 12:50
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    Drivers' Education is arguably more resemblant of the apparition lessons that sixth-grade Hogwarts students can take. – leftaroundabout Apr 25 '16 at 18:42
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    @RogueJedi When I attended, my school had about 1600 students: not very big by US public HS standards. Admittedly, that's a lot more than Hogwarts, which seemed to have about 40 students in each year, for a total of about 300. But their funding model is very different, if that means anything. – Mike Harris Apr 25 '16 at 19:43
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    I'd be wary about comparing a US high school to Hogwarts given that the author has spent the majority of her life in Britain (where secondary school is very different in terms of structure and curriculum). Driving lessons are not commonly part of British school life, they are typically taught separately by specialised driving schools. – Pharap Apr 26 '16 at 2:21

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