At numerous points in the Harry Potter books it is made evident that Mr Weasley is somewhat...inexpert when it comes to his knowledge of the Muggle world (despite his inherent enthusiasm).

Mr. Weasley liked Harry to sit next to him at the dinner table so that he could bombard him with questions about life with Muggles, asking him to explain how things like plugs and the postal service worked.
Fascinating!” he would say as Harry talked him through using a telephone. “Ingenious, really, how many ways Muggles have found of getting along without magic.”
(Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4, At Flourish and Blotts).

“You’ll be paying now, then?” said Mr. Roberts.
“Ah - right - certainly -” said Mr. Weasley. He retreated a short distance from the cottage and beckoned Harry toward him. “Help me, Harry,” he muttered, pulling a roll of Muggle money from his pocket and starting to peel the notes apart. “This one’s a - a - a ten? Ah yes, I see the little number on it now...So this is a five?”
“A twenty,” Harry corrected him in an undertone, uncomfortably aware of Mr. Roberts trying to catch every word.
“Ah yes, so it is...I don’t know, these little bits of paper...”
(Goblet of Fire, Chapter 7, Bagman and Crouch).

I've given some reasons elsewhere as to why this might be. What I didn't consider in that answer was the possibility that he could have taken Muggle Studies, which is offered as a subject at Hogwarts.

“What are you doing Muggle Studies for?” said Ron, rolling his eyes at Harry. “You’re Muggle-born! Your mum and dad are Muggles! You already know all about Muggles!”
“But it’ll be fascinating to study them from the wizarding point of view,” said Hermione earnestly.
(Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 4, The Leaky Cauldron).

Of course, he's not completely clueless. Nevertheless, I would've thought that basic concepts like telephones and money would've been included on the Muggle Studies curriculum. Given his passion for all things Muggle I'd also have thought that Mr Weasley would have taken Muggle Studies if given the chance.

Is there any canon indication on whether Mr Weasley took Muggle Studies or not? If he did, why is he as ignorant as he is? If he didn't take it, why not?

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    The HP Wiki claims he has an OWL in Muggle Studies. Insert comments about the Wiki being garbage below. Presumably they're basing it on Hermione's comment in OotP about needing an OWL in MS to join the Ministry of Magic's Muggle Relations Dept. – Valorum Dec 13 '18 at 19:16
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    I'm reasonably sure that the answer is a straight up "don't know" and that the quote from Hermione really isn't very much use given this may only be a recent development – Valorum Dec 13 '18 at 19:36
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    I would just like to point out that one of your examples concerns muggle money - British muggle money was changed in the 1970s, so that may explain his unfamiliarity with it, perhaps it changed since he was in school. – ADavidson Dec 14 '18 at 9:24
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    When was the Muggle Studies class even established? I wonder if it's possible it was only even created after Dumbledore became head. – user3067860 Dec 14 '18 at 14:22
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    Bit short for an answer but my theory is he didn't develop an interest in muggles until after he started his current job in the ministry. He took that job because it was available and was surprised by how interesting he found it, then started casually researching muggles. The fact that he knows so little about them suggests he doesn't have a good grounding in the subject. Like someone who's an expert on web-scraping but doesn't know how to use a word processor. – Meelah Dec 14 '18 at 14:56

As Bellatrix mentioned, there doesn't seem to be any evidence as to whether Mr. Weasley took Muggle Studies or not. However, I don't find it implausible that Mr. Weasley could have taken Muggle Studies and still be a bit of a duffer when it comes to Muggle things.

When Hermione explains why she's taking Muggle Studies, she says:

"But it will be fascinating to study them from the wizarding point of view

So there are different points of view that Muggle Studies can be studied from. I imagine that a Muggle teaching about a telephone would focus more on explaining how to use a telephone, while a wizard teaching about a telephone would focus more on why Muggles need telephones and what they use them for.

So someone taking a Muggle Studies class from a wizard might learn that because Muggles have no magical ways of communication, they have to use something called a telephone, which enables them to communicate with people not in their presence. But they likely would not learn how to use a telephone, as that would not be considered a particularly useful skill for a wizard to have (except for certain minority cases, in which the wizard could learn how to use it from some other source). Muggle Studies is more to help wizards understand Muggles than to help them be like Muggles.

This is perhaps supported by the fact that Hermione had to write an essay about why Muggles need electricity:

Harry looked around at the cluttered table, at the long Arithmancy essay on which the ink was still glistening, at the even longer Muggle Studies essay ("Explain why Muggles need Electricity") and at the rune translation Hermione was now poring over.

The above would be true of a reasonably good teacher. However, as we well know, Dumbledore does not seem to play such a hands-on role in what his staff are teaching, or how they teach it. Short of a teacher posing a clear danger to the students, Dumbledore might not interfere — even if the students were getting a bad education.

Here's how Muggle Studies as taught by Alecto Carrow was described by Neville:

We've all got to listen to her explain how Muggles are like animals, stupid and dirty, and how they drive wizards into hiding by being vicious toward them, and how the natural order is being re-established."

It is unlikely that any student in this class would emerge having any proper understanding of Muggle things. And while it is unlikely that even Dumbledore would stand for a teacher like Alecto, this doesn't preclude the possibility that an earlier Muggle studies teacher was incompetent in a different way.

In short, I think it is reasonable that taking Muggle Studies might not have given Mr. Weasley much useful knowledge of Muggle things. It may have helped him appreciate Muggles, and their world, in general but we should not be surprised that he does not understand how thinks like plugs, money, and the postal service work.

It's also possible that Mr. Weasley might have simply forgotten things that he had learned decades earlier, especially if he hadn't put that particular knowledge into use.

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    Also possible: the Muggle Studies teacher in Arthur's time may not yet have updated the syllabus to include telephones. If they were a century old at the time Arthur was in their course, they could well have kept to traditional "textbooks" from their youth (1850s-1900s?) - which would be around the time that printed currency notes and telephones were introduced. – muru Dec 14 '18 at 7:09
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    @muru: GIven that Hermione is still asked to write an essay on the purpose of electricity, that would suggest that there is at least a century's gap between muggle civilization and the wizard's comprehension thereof. I'm aware that the teacher may already know the answer to the electricity question and is simply getting the students to answer correctly, but the point still stands that they're focusing on old technology and may simply not get to the point of addressing new technology yet. – Flater Dec 14 '18 at 9:41
  • Wizards live longer. How old is Mr. Weasley? Maybe he was in Hogwarts before rubber ducks were a thing. – Rad80 Dec 14 '18 at 11:07
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    I'm not sure the telephone example is a good one - sure wizards might have better means of communication at their disposal, but I can think of countless times in the books where the characters were in a predicament that would have been easily solved if they all had cellphones as modern muggles do. (Let's face it, flue-networks and owls, etc. are cool and all but they can be impractical at times.) It seems more like wizards just have a natural bias towards all things non-magical, even when many of them would be very useful in place of or in combination with magic. – Darrel Hoffman Dec 14 '18 at 18:33
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    @DarrelHoffman To be fair though, the books were set in a time before the widespread availability of cellphones. Think landline telephones, probably corded and maybe even with rotary dials (electronic button keypads and cordless phones were readily available on the market, but their presence in a given home depended on affluence and inclination to upgrade of the owner). In fact, we forget, but when the first few books were written the majority of people in the first world didn't yet own personal cell phones. My family had one, that my dad carried, until the early 2000s or so. – mtraceur Dec 14 '18 at 20:57

There’s no evidence about whether he did.

The only time that Muggle Studies is mentioned in reference to Arthur Weasley is when Percy is advising Harry on which subjects he might want to take, he tells Harry that Muggle Studies is particularly useful for wizards who work with Muggles, like his father. However, he doesn’t ever mention if his father actually did take Muggle Studies while at Hogwarts.

“People say Muggle Studies is a soft option, but I personally think wizards should have a thorough understanding of the non-magical community, particularly if they’re thinking of working in close contact with them – look at my father, he has to deal with Muggle business all the time. My brother Charlie was always more of an outdoor type, so he went for Care of Magical Creatures.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 14 (Cornelius Fudge)

Having an O.W.L. in Muggle Studies is mentioned as a qualification for liaising with Muggles when Harry got to look at possible careers in his fifth year, which may imply Arthur studied it but doesn’t necessarily mean he did. It may have been a recently added requirement, so may not have been in place when Arthur applied for his job. Also, he worked in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, not directly in Muggle Relations, so the requirement might not even apply to his field.

“She was poring over a bright pink and orange leaflet that was headed, ‘SO YOU THINK YOU’D LIKE TO WORK IN MUGGLE RELATIONS? You don’t seem to need many qualifications to liaise with Muggles; all they want is an O.W.L. in Muggle Studies: Much more important is your enthusiasm, patience and a good sense of fun!
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)

So, there’s nothing that gives an indication whether or not Arthur Weasley took Muggle Studies. It’s not even clear that Muggle Studies was an option for Arthur Weasley when he was at Hogwarts, it’s not mentioned whether it was a course offered at the time he was attending. His lack of understanding of Muggle technology despite his interest in it seems to somewhat imply that he didn’t take Muggle Studies, since Muggle Studies covered subjects like electricity.

“Harry looked around at the cluttered table, at the long Arithmancy essay on which the ink was still glistening, at the even longer Muggle Studies essay (‘Explain why Muggles Need Electricity’) and at the Rune translation Hermione was now poring over.”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 12 (The Patronus)

From what we know about Muggle Studies, it seems to provide accurate information - Hermione, who grew up around Muggles and wasn’t afraid to call classes like Divination nonsense, took it without complaining about its inaccuracies or wizards’ lack of knowledge on Muggle technology, and thought Ron should take it, which means she thought it’d be informative for him.

“I’ll fix it up with Mum and Dad, then I’ll call you. I know how to use a fellytone now –’

‘A telephone, Ron,’ said Hermione. ‘Honestly, you should take Muggle Studies next year …”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 22 (Owl Post Again)

Since the class itself seems to provide accurate information, it doesn’t seem likely that Arthur Weasley could have taken it and yet remain so misinformed on Muggles, especially considering his interest in them.

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    I get the feeling that Muggle Studies is not, uh, particularly good at teaching its subject; it's like the Computer Science class in high school, where some poor math or physics teacher is roped into teaching programming, and half the class is way ahead of the teacher while the other half is just in it for an easy A. – Martha Dec 13 '18 at 21:03
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    @Martha It was certainly more advanced than Arthur Weasley’s knowledge - an essay for it in third year was why Muggles need electricity, which Arthur didn’t know the name of. “Harry looked around at the cluttered table, at the long Arithmancy essay on which the ink was still glistening, at the even longer Muggle Studies essay (‘Explain why Muggles Need Electricity’) and at the Rune translation Hermione was now poring over.” - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 12 (The Patronus) Also, Hermione, a Muggle-born know-it-all, didn’t call it inaccurate and suggested that Ron take it. – Bellatrix Dec 13 '18 at 21:08
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    +1 For your last two paragraphs especially. I had always assumed that Arthur was a proper muggle specialist, and his ineptitude just showed how little the wizarding world really understood about muggles. But your argument about Hermione not complaining convinces me. – AndyT Dec 14 '18 at 11:06
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    @Martha Area studies programs in modern universities have this issue. It's not that their bad, it's just that there is a lot of material to cover. As an example, I took several courses in 'Asian Studies' in an American university around 2010 and basically learned a broad history of Asia and Chinese culture. Based on that curriculum, I would be largely clueless about most developments since about 1965.It's a lot to cover! – indigochild Dec 14 '18 at 18:01
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    @Bellatrix The punctuation in your second quote seems a bit off. (*retreats to safe distance, hopes she doesn't Apparate*) – wizzwizz4 Dec 14 '18 at 20:39

In addition to Alex's answer, I would like to point out that not only is it not shown that the "Muggle Studies" subject taught anything practically about how Muggles use their inventions, but that the subject could well be full of errors, misconceptions, omissions, superstitions and hearsay.

Indeed, I imagine Hermione taking the subject for the pleasure of correcting the errors ... or perhaps for the guilty pleasure of letting them slide, much as you watch educational Youtube videos about your country or language which are made by foreigners.

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    Do you have any evidence that Muggle Studies was indeed full of errors and superstitions? It's a Hogwarts subject, after all. Presumably it's intended to refute wizarding superstitions of Muggles, not enforce them. – The Dark Lord Dec 14 '18 at 13:54
  • @TheDarkLord you changed the meaning of the first paragraph - I did not state as a fact what was (not) taught, only a possibility of it. Anyway, I guess that some amount of errors is highly probable. It would be even if taught by muggles. – Edheldil Dec 14 '18 at 14:06
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    Didn't mean to change your meaning, just clarify it. As ever, feel free to edit again if you disagree with an edit (although hopefully FuzzyBoots has captured what you intended). I'm still not clear why errors would be "highly probable"? Other Hogwarts subjects don't teach incorrect information. – The Dark Lord Dec 14 '18 at 14:45
  • @TheDarkLord - Two counterpoints. Lockhart (just Lockhart). And Snape. It might not have been incorrect information, but it was knowingly and seemingly deliberate inferior information. – Xavon_Wrentaile Dec 15 '18 at 2:29

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