9

Concerning magical creatures Hagrid's expertise is evident, but his judgement is impaired. He also has a quick temper and when angered, can assault people, which makes him less than perfect teacher material. So why Dumbledore who knows him well trusts him not only with the Order's secrets but also with the lives of his students?

Just a few examples: In the first book he is angered by Vernon Dursley's and attacks Dudley, trying to transform him into a pig (the spell fails, but Dudley grows a piggitail) then there's the case of Norbert the dragon when he and the first years he involved broke a few school rules. in the second book he sends Harry and Ron to Aragog, an acromantula he raised in Hogwarts in his third year. Aragog and family attack the kids. In the third book he brings a Hypogriff to his first lesson and a student gets injured. In the fourth book he introduces the blast ended skrewts. In the same year he attacks Karkaroff in front of Dumbledore.

Karkaroff spat onto the ground at Dumbledore’s feet. In one swift movement, Hagrid seized the front of Karkaroff’s furs, lifted him into the air, and slammed him against a nearby tree. “Apologize!” Hagrid snarled as Karkaroff gasped for breath, Hagrid’s massive fist at his throat, his feet dangling in midair. “Hagrid, no!” Dumbledore shouted, his eyes flashing. (GoF)

It's apparent in fifth year when he introduces the Thestrals that the students are apprehensive of his lessons and don't trust Hagrid a bit, even the Gryffindors:

Now, what we’re studyin’ today is pretty rare, I reckon I’m probably the on’y person in Britain who’s managed ter train ’em —” “And you’re sure they’re trained, are you?” said Malfoy, the panic in his voice even more pronounced now. “Only it wouldn’t be the first time you’d brought wild stuff to class, would it?” The Slytherins murmured agreement and a few Gryffindors looked as though they thought Malfoy had a fair point too. (OotP)

So why had Dumbledore, who said:

“Please do not suggest that I do not take the safety of my students seriously, Harry.” (OotP)

Appointed him? It's not as if he had no alternative as was sometimes a case with DADA teachers. Prof. Grubby-Plank expressed readiness to work as a teacher full time at Hogwarts, and apparently students enjoyed her lessons more than Hagrid's.

It's one thing for Dumbledore to trust Hagrid with his own life, and with specific missions like bringing infant Harry to the Dursleys or sending him as an emissary to the giants. But trusting him with magical creatures around students, when it's evident he considers even the deadliest ones fluffy and harmless? How's that a wise appointment? And seeing how he wasn't a popular teacher - even the students who liked him the most and were the most active in his lessons weren't interested in taking up his subject after it ceased to be mandatory preferring Divination(!) - And if he was unwilling to sack Hagrid, why haven't Dumbledore at least hired Grubby-Plank too, providing an alternative?

Edit: it's not a question about necessary professional qualifications or about having a clean criminal record, as the question What are the requirements to teach at Hogwarts? more about student safety and Dumbledore’s opinion on Hagrid as a teacher.

  • 4
    “Please do not suggest that I do not take the safety of my students seriously, Harry." -- is any creature he introduces really that dangerous? More so than the usual crap the kids exprience in other lessons? Ignoring Malfoy being a knob with Buckbeak, the worst they seemed to get was the blast ended skrewts rtight? And even Grubbly-Planks Browtruckles drew more blood than anything Hagrid brought along (ofc, I may be misremembering) – Mac Cooper Jul 30 '16 at 21:31
  • @Mac you're right, those are pretty scary too. – Ekaterin Nile Jul 30 '16 at 21:55
  • In the question What are the requirements to teach at Hogwarts, a variety of requirements are listed, but as to why Hagrid was hired, the chosen answer says For the CMC Hagrid was chosen as the teacher who has no qualifications at all, but loves animals and all things dangerous so he was hired. :) – Slytherincess Jul 31 '16 at 2:16
  • 1
    @Slitherincess no, the question is about safety, not qualifications. – Ekaterin Nile Jul 31 '16 at 6:11
  • This does not seem to be a duplicate. As the question here clarifies, it is not asking about any requirements; it is asking about a specific decision Dumbledore made, which might seem to be a bad decision. The quote from the answer to the other question that allegedly makes this a duplicate, is a throwaway line, that might not be correct, and does not even address the issue raised here (it does not discuss the dangers of having Hagrid as a teacher). Note that the current answers here are much better and more elaborate than a one-sentence statement that was not intended to address this point. – Alex Jan 1 at 22:56
24

Danger is part and parcel of a Hogwarts education

Hagrid may deal with dangerous creatures, and believe them to be far less dangerous than they actually are, but in bringing them to lessons, he is very much in accord with the general tenor of lessons at Hogwarts.

Consider:

  • In Herbology, students deal with Mandrakes, whose cry, when mature, will kill those who listen to it! True, appropriate safety measures are taken, and the mandrakes used are immature and thus not fatal, but are still quite dangerous:

    “As our Mandrakes are only seedlings, their cries won’t kill yet,” she said calmly as though she’d just done nothing more exciting than water a begonia. “However, they will knock you out for several hours, and as I’m sure none of you want to miss your first day back, make sure your earmuffs are securely in place while you work.

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    The students also deal with other highly dangerous plants, such as Venomous Tentacula.

  • In Quidditch, heavy iron balls fly around with the aim of unseating players from their brooms. Though they are never shown to be lethal, and never seem to hit players most matches, they are certainly capable of breaking bones. The whole game, of course, is played in the air at bone-breakingly high speeds.

  • In Defense Against the Dark Arts, students had to confront a creature that would take the form of their worst fears, surely an emotionally fraught experience. They have also had to fight off the Imperius Curse, which is arguably worse. While one could certainly argue that they must be prepared to face Dark Wizards and Witches, there is no denying that these are some pretty harsh experiences.

  • In Potions, they must brew substances which, if wrongly prepared, could easily turn out to be poisonous. Some are dangerous if correctly prepared, and could have disastrous effects if spilled:

    Goyle’s potion exploded, showering the whole class. People shrieked as splashes of the Swelling Solution hit them. Malfoy got a faceful and his nose began to swell like a balloon; Goyle blundered around, his hands over his eyes, which had expanded to the size of a dinner plate.

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

A large part of the reason for the apparent nonchalance of the Hogwarts teachers toward danger is how easily non-magical injuries can be healed. Madam Pomfrey is said to be able to fix bones instantly, and even the comparative difficult task of regrowing them takes a single night. This of course also applies to Hagrid's classes: if someone gets gored by a rhino in a Muggle zoology class, they may die. If it happens in a wizard class, they could be back on their feet in minutes. All the lengthy hospital stays we see are from magical poisons, spells, and so forth.

Hagrid is actually more careful than it seems

If we accept that the students will study dangerous plants, creatures and situations, then Hagrid actually seems to take more care than one would imagine. He warns students not to approach hippogriffs if they do not bow:

"Yeh always wait fer the hippogriff ter make the firs' move," Hagrid continued. "It's polite, see? Yeh walk toward him, and yeh bow, an' yeh wait. If he bows back, yeh're allowed ter touch him. If he doesn' bow, then get away from him sharpish, 'cause those talons hurt."

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

He certainly seems to recognize the danger to others:

The hippogriff was still staring haughtily at him. It didn't move.

"Ah," said Hagrid, sounding worried. "Right -- back away, now, Harry, easy does it."

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Hagrid is actually a lot less ignorant of the dangers of magical creatures than it would seem: he sees them as harmless because of his size, strength, and toughness, but he definitely recognizes the dangers to most people, and is correspondingly cautious.


As for Hagrid's anger toward other people, it is important that he really has only one "trigger": people disrespecting Dumbledore. This is what caused him to lash out at Dudley and Karkaroff. While that is obviously not a desirable characteristic, he seems very concerned with the well-being of students in his class, as evidenced by his behavior when Malfoy was injured. I'm sure Malfoy has insulted Dumbledore many times in Hagrid's class, and Hagrid never attacked him. Those two incidents seemed to be the exception. Given Hagrid's talent for teaching, I suspect Dumbledore was willing to ignore them. Had Hagrid actually mistreated students in his classes, Dumbledore's reaction might have been different.

  • 1
    good point about Hagrid's lessons actually fitting with the rest :) – Ekaterin Nile Jul 30 '16 at 21:49
4

Because above all else, Dumbledore trusts Hagrid with his life.

‘Hagrid’s bringing him.’

‘You think it – wise – to trust Hagrid with something as impor- tant as this?’

‘I would trust Hagrid with my life,’ said Dumbledore.

Hagrid only grows Violent as you stated, when someone directly insults Dumbledore, and never hurts or attacks students, only people who deserve it, aka the Dursleys, and Karkoff.

Hagrid's only flaw is his over estimation of how safe creatures are.

However, Hogwarts itself, is not safe... magic, is not safe.

In all fairness the only major accident in his class was due to Malfoy specificity disobeying instructions and pissing off Buckbeak. That can happen to any teacher, say walking across the street, an normally safe venture, that one idiot kid decides to run in front of traffic.

We see that under Hermione's suggestion, when he starts to do class on, average "boring" creatures he is extremely knowledgeable, and his classes are actually good.

Hagrid also has a unique physiology, that he can strong arm all of the magical creatures they they deal with in class, magical creatures that magic along can not handle, his immense size and semi magical resistant giant skin over him advantages other wizards/teachers cannot match.

Dumbledore simply had faith that Hagrid would rise up to the challenge and by the end of his 3nd year he has.

  • 2
    Did an eleven year old kid really deserved being turned into a pig? And it's not as if Hagrid knew Dudley was a bully. He was pretty quiet in that scene. Hagrid attacked Vernon's son after Vernon angered him. – Ekaterin Nile Jul 30 '16 at 21:53
  • @WillRosenberg he did deserved it, but despite that, that entire pig event was clearly ment as a way for rowling to toss some humor into the heavy news we just got. ;lp – Himarm Jul 30 '16 at 22:09
  • Hagrid's only flaw is that he doesn't know how to 'parent'; that kids are dumb, and that what might be obvious to him is not to them. He probably also forgets that he's +6' tall and +300 pounds (+1). – Mazura Jul 30 '16 at 22:17
  • 1
    @Mazura haha true! and he was raising a giant deadly spider at 13! so he has no idea what normal kids do – Himarm Jul 30 '16 at 22:18
  • Doesn't Dumbledore remind him of this at some point? IIRC, he gives him grief about something, or he verbally defends him from someone's admonishment... but he gets a break because he's (not quite right in the head) Hagrid. – Mazura Jul 30 '16 at 22:21
1

In this answer I argued that Dumbledore specifically gave Hagrid various jobs and responsibilities in order to help Hagrid. That is to say that Hagrid who had never completed his magical education, and was a half-giant, had very little opportunity to excel. Most tasks in the magical world require a sufficient mastery of magic, something which Hagrid lacked. Dumbledore would always find tasks that could be done without expert magic, and assign those to Hagrid. For example, retrieving Harry from Godric's Hollow, transporting the Philosopher's Stone, etc.

At the most basic level we could view this as kindness on Dumbledore's part. Hagrid was a kid with no father, an unknown giantess mother, expelled from Hogwarts, with no apparent future. Dumbledore took him in, and became a sort of father figure to Hagrid. While everyone else rejected Hagrid, Dumbledore felt bad for him and did whatever he could to help him.

However, since this is Dumbledore we're talking about, we would be remiss if we did not look for a more nefarious motive as well. Dumbledore presumably realized that the more he helps Hagrid, the more Hagrid will be loyal to him in return. As I argued in this answer Dumbledore succeeded to the point where Hagrid's loyalty was such that Dumbledore could trust Hagrid with his life, knowing that Hagrid would unquestioningly do anything that Dumbledore asked of him. This degree of loyalty is not usually something that one earns overnight. Presumably, as Dumbledore helped Hagrid more and more, Hagrid's loyalty to Dumbledore steadily increased. Dumbledore stood to benefit from this arrangement, as there are certain tasks that Hagrid was uniquely suited for. For example, Hagrid was the perfect person to send to the giants following Voldemort's return. If someone other than Dumbledore had asked Hagrid to do that, would he have acquiesced? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Appointing Hagrid as a teacher was just about the best thing Dumbledore could do for him, as we see in Prisoner of Azkaban when his teachership is announced:

Harry, Ron, and Hermione, however, were eager for it to finish so that they could talk to Hagrid. They knew how much being made a teacher would mean to him.

"Congratulations, Hagrid!" Hermione squealed as they reached the teachers' table.

"All down ter you three," said Hagrid, wiping his shining face on his napkin as he looked up at them. "Can' believe it... great man, Dumbledore... came straight down to me hut after Professor Kettleburn said he'd had enough.... It's what I always wanted...."

This would hardly be the only time Dumbledore did something like this. We find something very similar with Mundungus Fletcher. In the beginning of Order of the Phoenix Harry asks Sirius why Mundungus is in the order:

"How come he’s in the Order?" Harry said very quietly.

"He’s useful," Sirius muttered. "Knows all the crooks — well, he would, seeing as he’s one himself. But he’s also very loyal to Dumbledore, who helped him out of a tight spot once. It pays to have someone like Dung around, he hears things we don’t.

We see here that Dumbledore has earned Mundungus's loyalty by helping him out, and we learn that having Mundungus's loyalty is very useful. While it's possible Dumbledore would have helped Mundungus anyway, it is unlikely that he did not think of the benefit he would accrue by having someone like Mundungus in his debt.

Now if we accept that Dumbledore wanted to appoint Hagrid either out of kindness to Hagrid or to earn (solidify) Hagrid's loyalty, the question becomes one of trade-off. What price would Dumbledore be willing to pay to accomplish these goals?

Having Hagrid as the Care of Magical Creatures teacher is not the most dangerous thing in the world. I don't think the hands on the Weasleys' clock pointed to "Mortal Peril" every time they attended Hagrid's classes. This is not to deny that there was any danger altogether. There surely was. However, attending Hogwarts itself carries a certain degree of danger. As Harry thought in Chapter Two of Goblet of Fire:

He was used to bizarre accidents and injuries; they were unavoidable if you attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and had a knack for attracting a lot of trouble.

Note, that in all the years of Hagrid's teaching there were no fatalities, or even serious injuries. The only real injury was Malfoy's arm in Prisoner of Azkaban and even that was a joke. Of course, there was potential for greater injury, but that is something that Dumbledore would have to weigh against his other goals, and it is possible that the concern for danger would be outweighed.

Consider a similar circumstance from Half-Blood Prince. Dumbledore knew that Malfoy was trying to kill him. However, he wanted to protect Malfoy's soul by having Snape kill him instead. He also wanted to not appear to know about Malfoy's plan so that Voldemort wouldn't punish Malfoy. So what did he do? He let Malfoy bumble around the school trying to kill him in crude ways that — but for a bit of luck — would have killed two students. Granted, Dumbledore did appoint Snape to keep an eye on Malfoy, but that clearly wasn't enough. So it seems that Dumbledore was not averse to risking the lives of his students in the service of an important goal.

Moreover, we don't know what went on behind the scenes. For all we know Dumbledore was keeping a very close eye on Hagrid's teaching activities, ready to swoop in at a moment's notice should it become necessary. Had there ever been a case where a student came close to being seriously injured or killed, perhaps he would have removed Hagrid from his post.

As for the issue mentioned in the question of Hagrid's temper, in fact both examples are cases where Hagrid attacked someone out of loyalty to Dumbledore. This, is precisely why Dumbledore did hire Hagrid according to my argument above. Dumbledore wanted that kind of loyalty (even if he wouldn't necessarily approve of the particular manifestation in those two cases).

An alternative possibility is that Dumbledore was actually not aware of the danger of having Hagrid teach Care of Magical Creatures. How much did Dumbledore truly know about Hagrid's obsession with monsters? It is unclear from the books whether Dumbledore ever found out about Aragog or Norbert. And Dumbledore also in general had a pretty laissez faire approach to his teachers. We never find him getting involved in what actually goes on in the classrooms. There were at least three teachers in Harry's time (Lockhart, Umbridge, and Trelawney) who didn't teach anyone anything useful, and one teacher who showed, and subjected students to, illegal curses, but Dumbledore is never shown to have done anything about this. While in each case he may have had a specific reason for not getting involved, it is also possible that he simply did not keep tabs on the day-to-day classroom events. If so, he may have hired Hagrid assuming he wouldn't do anything too dangerous, and then simply not followed up to make sure of this.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.