Harry Potter and the Questionable Math Curriculum

With the recent release of the Cursed Child (please no spoilers…I haven’t read it yet!), I thought it would be relevant to share a few Harry Potter thoughts.

Some people have challenged the quality of education provided at Hogwarts.  They argue that the inclusion of muggle subjects is important–even in the wizarding world   Fluency in writing and in math are deemed especially necessary. Even the best of witches must write boring, but easily readable reports, and even the most unambitious wizard must know when he is massively overpaying for a small bag of newt eyes.

Maybe the curriculum is lacking, but the magical community has at least a little practice manipulating numbers. After all, at 29 knuts per sickle and 17 sickles per galleon, the math isn’t exactly a walk in Little Whinging (if you know what I mean). You try making change from a galleon for someone who’s buying an 18-knut-box of U-No-Poo. Not that easy.

On the other hand, magical folk do seem to set some arbitrary prices.  For example, Harry pays 7 galleons for his wand–the ultimate tool of power, knowledge, survival, and the premise for the entire series–but then buys 30 galleons worth of omnioculars to watch a sporting event.  Either watching sports in magical slow-mo is way more valuable than I thought, or Ollivander needs a huge lesson in business.

Wizards even struggle with basic equivalencies.  When Harry first visits Diagon Alley, he passes a woman muttering to herself about the ridiculous prices of dragon liver–17 sickles an ounce.  As we know, 17 sickles = 1 galleon.  See any problems here?*

So what do you think? Would things be better if Hogwarts had some muggle subjects? Or are these gaps in wizarding knowledge about on par with what we see in the muggle world?


*Actually, I was reading the ebook the other day, and I noticed that they had changed the offending line to “16 sickles an ounce.” Glad some muggle finally caught on.


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