Based on answers to this SFF question, it seems that Quirrell was not a very good candidate for DADA professorship - a book-smart "delicate" guy.

Yes, he was - as per Hagrid - "brilliant". But if there is one class where practical proficiency was very important compared to academic smarts, DADA is it.

Why didn't Dumbledore appoint someone with more experience actually fighting the Dark in the First Year? Alastor Moody (or some other retired Auror), or one of the existing teachers except Snape? (Professor McGonagle, or even himself for that matter)?

  • After 40 or so years of replacing a teacher once every year, AND having to deal with speculation that the job was cursed; was not easy to fill the role. scifi.stackexchange.com/a/26933/21267
    – Möoz
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 22:13

2 Answers 2


Dumbledore traditionally finds it hard to fill the Defense Against the Dark Arts post. I suspect there weren't many candidates willing to take the role; if you rule out Snape - which Dumbledore obviously had - then it's possible that Quirrell was the only other alternative. In the fifth book, Order of the Phoenix, Dolores Umbridge is appointed as the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor because Dumbledore was unable to find a willing candidate.

You also have to consider that not everyone is suitable to teach. Having in-depth knowledge and practical experience of a subject doesn't necessarily mean you're any good at conveying that knowledge to others; even if there were other candidates, Quirrell may have been the best choice for teaching, even if he wouldn't be your first pick for actually dealing with the creatures the students are taught about.

In regards to other options - you mentioned specifically Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall - that seems pretty straightforward. They already had other duties within the school; the former was Headmaster and the latter taught Transfiguration, neither had time to teach another class. There's also nothing to indicate they would have been better options for the post than Quirrell was. McGonagall was an excellent Transfiguration teacher, but that doesn't mean she would have been as good at teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts.

  • Arguably, Moody (real or otherwise) is as bad a teacher as Quirrel, but are on different ends of the spectrum in terms of book vs 'street' smarts.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 0:20
  • @Pureferret - why is the real Moody a bad teacher? He couldn't have been a successful Auror if he didn't have his magical knowledge down cold. Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 9:59
  • 4
    Sure, but that doesn't make him a good teacher. Does he have the patience to explain in simple terms a defensive charm? Can he cope with those that don't show 'CONSTANT VIGILANCE!' ? In fact he may, some days be too busy transmogrifying pupils into ferrets to teach them anything (assuming that real moody would do likewise that is).
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 10:05
  • You also have to consider that not everyone is suitable to teach. Having in-depth knowledge and practical experience of a subject doesn't necessarily mean you're any good at conveying that knowledge to others +1 just for that. I'm a perfect example: I'm not a good teacher but I certainly have the knowledge and experience in a number of fields. Another point to consider: he wouldn't have wanted the others to be affected by the jinx/curse. That itself is important to remember: Dumbledore had to protect his most loyal and dedicated staff didn't he?
    – Pryftan
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 16:23

Dumbledore might have chosen Quirrell as DADA professor to trap Voldemort's spirit, and to have a controlled confrontation between Voldemort and Harry, to prepare him for the future. It's highly likely that he knew all about Quirrell.

“Well, I got back all right,” said Hermione. “I brought Ron round — that took a while — and we were dashing up to the owlery to contact Dumbledore when we met him in the entrance hall — he already knew — he just said, ‘Harry’s gone after him, hasn’t he?’ and hurtled off to the third floor.”

"I don’t think it was an accident he let me find out how the mirror worked. It’s almost like he thought I had the right to face Voldemort if I could…"

-Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Dumbledore even tells Snape that he had let Harry try his own strength, throughout his 7 years in Hogwarts.

“We have protected him because it has been essential to teach him, to raise him, to let him try his strength”

-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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