I realise it can be quite a speculative subject, but I believe JKR herself must have had some distinct image of Snape's teaching role in Hogwarts.

Evidences seem to be contradictive though.

We know Snape became a teacher to be close to Dumbledore, not because he wanted to teach. On the other hand, from the first year he asked the post of DADA teacher, meaning he actually was interested in teaching activity in general.

He is definitely a bullying, unjust and discouraging - not a good teacher's features exactly. But at the same time he pays a lot of attention to every student (even if negative), cares about all the details in class and seems to be interested in passing his knowledge of a subject to the fullest.

I would personally emphasise the Occlumency lessons. In my opinion Snape was surprisingly patient considering the circumstances and Harry's behaviour.

So has JKR ever said anything on Snape's competency as a teacher?

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    I'm voting to close this as being primarily opinion based. Being a 'good teacher/professor' is very subjective, and there are many interpretations on what it means to be a 'good teacher'.
    – onewho
    Oct 10, 2018 at 19:01
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    I see why people voted to close, but I would not say it's that opinion-based. I believe Rowling had the question on mind while creating the character, so the answer can be in the canon text. She put it pretty straightforward for other teachers: McGonagall, Flirwick, Lupin are good teachers, Lockhart, Umbrige, Trelawney are bad, Hagrid knows his subject perfectly, but is a mediocre teacher. It's all in the books the way JKR put it there. Snape is just more complicated character, so it's not that straightforward for him.
    – Shana Tar
    Oct 11, 2018 at 4:13
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    I did change the question title. I believe the answers can be based on canonic sources. Like, @Galastel's answer looks pretty canon-based to me. I personally find the question interesting (of course, it's my question after all :D) and do not have a formed opinion on it myself. But if you still feel it doesn't fit the site policy, feel free to close it.
    – Shana Tar
    Oct 11, 2018 at 10:06
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    @ShanaTar Galastel's examples are canon-based, but the conclusions drawn from them are opinion-based. Plus there are counterexamples to them in the story. I don't think it's necessary Galastel's fault, it may be that the question (as it was) lent itself to that kind of answer. More importantly, the idea of a "good teacher" itself is subjective. For instance, Snape let his bias for / against certain students spill over into the class, which many people would call bad teaching. Is that a more important point than, say, expertise with potions? Well, I dunno. Depends on how you view teaching.
    – Misha R
    Oct 11, 2018 at 14:05
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    @ShanaTar I would also add that it's entirely possible Snape is neither a good or bad teacher. He may just be an average teacher. Nothing strange about being an average teacher. But very difficult to objectively demonstrate :) To be fair, you did update your question, so this is more of response to the comment.
    – Misha R
    Oct 11, 2018 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


Setting aside Snape's treatment of Harry, I'd say he was generally a good teacher, yes.

For starters, he was actually competent in the stuff he taught. In The Prisoner of Azkhaban, Lupin testifies to Snape's proficiency with potions:

'Professor Snape has very kindly concocted a potion for me,' he said. 'I have never been much of a potion-brewer, and this one is particularly complex. [...] there aren't many wizards who are up to making it.' (Speaking of the wolfsbane potion.)

Snape's own Potions schoolbook (Halfblood Prince) is further evidence.

Compared to Trelawney, or Umbridge, or Lockhart, basic competence in the subject being taught is not to be taken lightly.

Then, right from the start, we are told that Snape is a good orator:

He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word - like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, chapter 8)

For all that he'd prefer to teach DADA, he is passionate about his subject, and wishes to teach, pass that passion onwards:

I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death (ibid)

And, unlike, say, Hagrid, he organises the material easy first, advanced later:

Snape put them all into pairs and set them to mixing up a simple potion to cure boils (ibid).

  • 1
    Hi. the question has been edited to comply with the SFF on-topic criteria. You might want to edit your answer accordingly.
    – Aegon
    Oct 11, 2018 at 10:36
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    @Aegon the quotes are from the books written by Jo, so i think the answer still qualifies. according to the answer, the writer introduced the character as a competent teacher in the books.
    – user68762
    Oct 11, 2018 at 12:53
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    I agree with your point about Snape's proficient with potions. But I'm not so sure about the other ones. They are relatively isolated, and there is evidence against them as well. For instance, his passion for the potions subject is nonetheless seriously mitigated by his constant attempts to switch classes. His oration example may not be a matter of oration at all, but rather a matter of inspiring fear, which is quite a different quality. His ability to organize material is fairly questionable, given the way he taught occlumency to Harry. I'd say your examples lack regularity.
    – Misha R
    Oct 11, 2018 at 13:49
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    While all of these points indicate that Snape was good at Potions, it doesn't indicate that he was good at teaching it - see references like if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach, implying the sort of natural-genius who just "can't understand why you don't get this it's so obvious and easy". Amazing for N.E.W.T.s classes, less so for the likes of Mr Longbottom Oct 16, 2018 at 0:00

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