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Muggle Studies

Who: Sturgis Podmore, open to 6th and 7th year students
What: Further efforts at educating the reluctant masses
Where: Muggle Studies classroom
When: Wednesday, 12 November - 9am
Status: Incomplete

Sturgis kept the class list before him as the students came in, marking ticks next to their names when each of them arrived. In the extremely short time since he had begun teaching this revamped class, he had noticed the amount of students who felt they did not need to attend class. No more.

Once the last student stumbled inside, he stood up and looked at the names of those who did not show, among which was Macmillan, though Sprout had caught him right before class to let him know the Prefect was ill. "From now on, missing this class will mean points deducted from your House total." He glanced over at where certain students usually sat, then back at his list. He spent another few moments deducting a handful of other points for absent students, then dropped the class list back on the desk.

"Now, I'm sure by now most of you have gotten a look at the new rules with regards to use of magic outside of class. I'm sure that most of you will find this quite difficult, and perhaps even think it unreasonable. I would like you, instead, to use this as an opportunity to learn. Each of you, without using magic, will glimpse what it is like to live as a Muggle. But as a wizard, you will feel bereft, as if you had lost one of your limbs. You will come to realize how your years at Hogwarts have gotten you accustomed to using your magic, making it second nature - which means it is that much more difficult to stop using it."

He crossed his arms over his chest, and leaned back against his desk. "Learn to do things without magic. Find out just how ingenuous you can be when you have to be. Think about how every Muggle lives day to day without magic, and yet they manage to achieve so much. Whenever you doubt yourself, thinking that you can't do it, just think to yourselves - if Muggles can live without magic and I can't, what does that say about me?"

He grinned. "Now, are there any questions before we move on to our proper lesson?"


Attentive blue orbs rested upon Sturgis, lacking absolute spineless reverence but nonetheless interested. Linus was perhaps one of the few that seemed to enjoy Podmore's class. Today Linus' amusement had thus far come from Podmore's speech about Snape's new rules. Some of the Slytherins seemed distinctly ill at ease at the idea of behaving like Muggles. The idea was daunting certainly. Who was going to teach them? But Linus rose to the challenge- if Muggles can, he can. of that Linus was certain.

Despite that, Linus was disappointed to see that Ernie Macmillan was not in attendance. Linus had intended to speak to him, but quickly decided that the alternative was writing a letter and hexing it to death. In any case that could wait. Linus pulled out his books, parchment and quills to ready for class.

Theodore flashed his cousin a smile, taking a desk beside him and unpacking his books. He was none too happy with the rule change himself, but had been putting up a reasonably good front with the others, despite feeling hypocritcal. He could only hope the rule would stand only for so long as the person or persons who had been making mischief were at large.

Luckily, he was often in the presence of a professor, he thought with a slight smirk, eyes flickering to Sturgis.
Linus returned Theodore's smile with one of his own before he too looked attentively up at the Professor, though perhaps not with the same reverence. Linus noticed the smirk, and tried to draw context from it. He wondered what his cousin was thinking.

His hand shifted a touch so Linus could wrap fingers about a quill and dip it in ink. He scrawled upon the parchment like he was taking notes of what Podmore said. In actuality it said this:

You look particularly amused for one who was just robbed of his magical right. Sickle for your thoughts?
Theodore's eyes glanced towards Linus' parchment as he wrote, careful not to draw too much attention as he drew up his own quill, slowly scrawling a reply.

Just makes me all the happier to be a teacher's aid.
Only briefly looking away from Sturgis at an opportune moment, Linus read Theodore's reply. He had to mask his amusement at the answer. He hadn't the time to write more than one word...


Before he felt too aware to continue on. Flashing his cousin a slow, amused smile once more, Linus then refocused his mind on today's lesson. However, he would remember to bring it up later- maybe at Lunch.
Pansy stared blankly at the Professor. What a load of bullocks. The new rules were irritating, and Pansy found them to be very nearly offensive. They weren't muggles, they were wizards. Magical beings. Being told not to use their magic was just ridiculous, like being told not to breathe. Muggles wouldn't need magic because they didn't have it. It didn't come from wands, it came from inside- like her childhood temper tantrums that would break the fancy dinner plates. Wizards were built differently than muggles. They were just different sorts, more evolved.

If Muggles could live without magic and she couldn't, what did that say about her? It says I'm a bloody witch! Really, how absurd.
Megan raised her hand before she spoke. "But there's a difference between having the ability to do magic and being prevented from doing it - and people who never had magic in the first place. Muggles can live without magic, but they've never been given the choice. They don't know what they're missing. But because they've never had magic, they've gradually adapted and found ways to solve their problems using technology."

She took a deep breath. "If we had to, we could adapt to. But I thought the reason we came to Hogwarts to develop our magical education - not to see if we could be Muggles if we wanted to."
"To become a thing, even temporarily, is to know a thing. If we can't use our magic, maybe we'll gain some understanding of how Muggles work in the process. Is that such a bad thing?" Linus piped up, his attentive blues turning with amusement to Megan Jones. His last words were meant as a bit of an intellectual challenge.

"Professor Podmore, I suspect is simply trying to take a positive spin of what is, as I'm sure most agree, a highly controversial and some might say questionable decision. We are Wizards." Linus added, his voice decisive and edged. "But magic just like technology is a tool. Magic may be superior, simpler and more efficient, but the loss of our magical rights is incentive to learn otherwise." And I for one won't shrink from a challenge. As distasteful as the idea of resorting to Muggle technology was to Linus, Podmore had managed to push the right button with him.

"When Cortez- a Muggle- sailed to the New World, he then burned his ships. Having no recourse, his men were properly motivated to improvise. We currently have no recourse but to play along."
Megan glanced at the younger boy. Who the heck are you? She wanted to ask, since she could hardly indentify people in our own house and of her own age, let alone younger students from different houses.

"So...what you're saying is to know the Muggle end of things could essentially make you more knowledgable and perhaps even more powerful than a person who can only handle themselves in a magical way. Well, what about those students (and I'm sure this school has many of them) who are not naivly blind about the Muggle way of life and could easily survive without magic if we had no other choice? Wouldn't you say that this is a waste of the limited time we have left within the walls of Hogwarts?"

Her words were intense, but there was a smile on her face. This kid was more interesting than most. She wondered if he was a Ravenclaw.
Michael had sat forward, paying attention to Podmore's words from the get go. He wanted to see how Sturgis would take this new decree, and it seemed that the staff was putting up quite the front of solidarity- at least for now. Well, I may have to annoy our good Headmaster a touch more, Michael thought to himself, eyes dropping to his thus far empty parchment. He's only punishing his closest allies by this decree, though admittedly working the populous against my actions. Doubled-edged sword there, Snapey.

Michael was broken from his internal thoughts by the voice of a sixth year. He had sat himself next to Megan because it was one of the few seats left. That surprised him, he expected Ernie to have taken it. But... where was Ernie anyway? He hadn't had the chance to ask yet.

Still, as Linus finished and Megan seemed ready to answer, Michael spoke in a soft whisper to Megan. "That's him. That's the boy Ernie wants to watch. Linus Vaisey." He said, his eyes seeking hers briefly and then back to Podmore.
Mirroring the Hufflepuff woman's smile with a diplomatic, amused one of his own, Linus first formulated his answer and then when ready decided to speak. "Students from wizarding backgrounds are usually well-versed in the History of Magic, a few basic household charms and flying well before they set foot into Hogwarts." His smile widened, "Does that mean all students with such a background should skip History and Flying classes altogether?"

Linus had turned around to face Megan from his vantage, but with his point made his smile tightened and he nodded to her with a friendly though very perceptive way and then turned back to Podmore.
"Oh, I don't feel there is anything wrong with having Muggle studies as a class," Megan argued. "Because I doubt that even someone like me, who spends two full months per year in the Muggle world has even begun to tap the surface of Muggle contribution to their society and our own. I'm saying that how am I going to continue to learn magic if the school is preventing me from practicing?"
He heard the words Megan had said twice that day. Once from her lips and once about five seconds after he read Headmaster Snape's new rule. Hearing them both times, Linus still hadn't formulated an answer beyond what everyone else in the room was probably thinking. This is bollox.

He glanced over his shoulder at Megan and gave her an unusual look. His mouth tightened into a smile that did not reach his eyes, and his brows raised themselves onto his forehead. All of it collectively came together to say, I have absolutely no idea.
Tracey raised an eyebrow at the thought of doing things without magic. Magic was why they were here at Hogwarts. Why the hell would they want to live without it? The redhead looked over at Pansy. Trace knew better now than to fall asleep or do anything else wrong here. Getting Podmore's voice in her ear was more than enough embarrassment. The exchange between Megan and Linius barely interested her but it was enough of a reason to look between the two other students.

The school was really going downhill with the new rules and she and Pansy were lucky to not have been caught. Her eyes looked back over to Pansy, rolling heavily.
Sturgis had watched over the debate with pleased eyes. He was quickly coming to enjoy this class more than he ever did Transfigurations, for though his talent lied with changing one object into another, his Ravenclaw intellect was thrilled by the conversations that had been sparked by this Muggle Studies class. Rather than inhibit debate, Sturgis preferred to spur it on, even if the opinions differed from his own. It was... stimulating in a way he had longed to see in a very long time. Perhaps, had certain events never occurred, this could have been his fate, and a pleasant one at that... but thoughts like that were better left for another time.

"Five points each to Slytherin and Hufflepuff for making such interesting points," he announced when the conversation had finally slowed. "You are both right, of course. It will indeed be difficult to practice for one's classes without the ability to use magic - except for most potions, of course, which are often more a matter of mixing the correct ingredients than spells and charms. However, as the rules currently state that is to be the state of affairs, then the best way to deal with it is to turn a disadvantage into a learning experience. If you take something away from it, then it is no longer a waste of time."

With that said, Sturgis reached back for his notes. "Now, let us get back to the subject at hand. We started the module on Muggle weaponry and its effect on wizards and wizard society on Monday. Now the direct effects are quite obvious, I would hope - as in the way Muggle weapons might be used against a wizard who is unprepared for their attack, often due to ignorance of Muggle technology. Muggles, however, are more often in conflict with each other than with us - that doesn't mean that wizards don't get caught in the middle, however. I will give you two examples that I would like us to discuss.

"In the summer of 1945, a small group of international wizard researchers were investigating a possible grindylow-like species in the rivers to the East of the Japanese city of Hiroshima. They were aware there was a great war occurring, but not only did they believe that most of the action was taking place far from their location, but they thought their particular shielding spells would help protect them from any Muggle weaponry. On August 6, a weapon called an 'atomic bomb' was dropped on the city, killing 70,000 people immediately, and creting effects that eventually doubled that number. Among the dead were several wizards who lived among the wizard populace, a few squibs, and Muggle family members of many wizards. The research group was also killed. The wizard population of Hiroshima had received no notice of the coming attack from their counterparts across the ocean, nor did the research group, and thus were unable to protect themselves from a weapon that was greater than they would have ever imagined capable of Muggles."

He paused to let the words sink in before beginning his second example. "Next, let us look a little closer to home. Specifically, Northern Ireland in August, 1969. Some of you may be familiar with the Troubles of the last few decades that many believe to have begun on that date. There was widespread rioting in Derry and Belfast, which turned quite bloody, and drove many people from their homes - including of course several wizards and witches who lived in those areas. Once again, a Muggle conflict spreads into the lives of wizards and witches, entrenching them into a situation not of their making."

He waited again for the students to think on this. "What are your thoughts? Could these situations have been prevented? What would you do if placed in the same circumstances? What options are there for witches and wizards in the face of such odds?"
Pansy's hand rose hesitantly into the air. Having opinions on things was certainly not new to her, but it had always been Granger with her hand up before anyone had time to blink... and when it wasn't, she'd been more than happy to let Draco take the lead. But things were different now, with Granger off who-knows-where, and besides, she was still stinging a bit over Megan's contributions to the debate. As if she had any right to discuss magical rights, she was just a mudblood anyway.

"Better communication between wizarding communities could have helped." She offered, twirling a lock of dark hair lazily between her fingers. "As would stronger defensive spells and better monitoring. If the Ministry took it upon themselves to closely track and monitor muggle activities, these sort of events wouldn't be such a surprise and could be avoided." Perhaps tagging would work well, like at the London Zoo of Magical Creatures. At this thought, Pansy's mouth twisted into a lopsided smirk.
Linus thought long about this subject, not because Sturgis mentioned it now but because this question had already been indirectly posed to him by the man. A few days ago, they had discussed the Hiroshima event and that had led to much thought from Linus.

He listened to Pansy's answer with an attentive ear, following her points and agreeing with most of them. They were safe, if a trifle idealistic. Could anything hold back the power of an atomic weapon? "Monitoring is all well and good," he finally commented. "But for the sake of argument, what if we prevented them using these weapons?" Linus' blue-tinted eyes scanned the crowd for dissension and on the first sign of it he locked eyes. "This is our world too of course. We have always had a policy of non-interference with Muggle activities. Two worlds, two ways."

Linus' mouth tilted just so, "But we have to share this planet. Would it be so wrong of us to protect ourselves and Muggles from their own destructive potential? Killing millions and poisoning millions of others? This nuclear technology... I've read about it. Did you know that the Muggles have tens of thousands of these weapons?" His eyes shifted to the Professor. "They also have tried to use this nuclear technology in other ways and its very dangerous. Hundreds of wizards and millions of people were poisoned in a place called Chernobyl. It's in Russia. We never saw that coming either." Linus shrugged his shoulders, "Maybe in light of our Muggle neighbors' advancements, we have a little more right to actively observe what they are doing. And ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, as the Muggles say."
"You mean observe with the intention of preventing their activities, correct?" Michael chimed up to the Slytherin boy's point. His grey eyes glared deeply at the boy, which he knew to be Theodore's cousin. Theodore even sat next to him and Michael could not help but glance at the older Slytherin too. "So where does it end? This prevention and interference... where and when does the Ministry have the right to stop Muggle governments?"
"When it affects our world too what choice do we have?" Theo piped in, looking to Michael, agreeing with his cousin's point, "It would be irresponsible to turn a blind eye to anything that poses a threat to us." He knew all too well the dangerous of Ireland, knowing the constant threat of some random attack was always looming overhead, despite the fact that it had yet to come near to Nott Manor. They seemed so random to him, and now wizards had been drawn into the fight as well.

"All systems of government montitor others to ensure their safety, it wouldn't be any different, and if we need to interfere to protect ourselves what's the problem with that?"

Edited at 2007-12-27 07:13 pm (UTC)
"None whatsoever." Michael responded back to Theodore, his eyes locked upon him. If he was shocked at Theodore's defense, then he showed none of it. "So, its agreed. We wizards have the right to protect ourselves. We should have the right to monitor or even infiltrate Muggle governments in order to ensure our worldly survival."

Then a glint in Michael's eyes told Theodore what he was going to say next. "Naturally we'll want to open the Ministry up to a full and equal monitoring by specially trained and perhaps Unbreakable Vowed Muggle law enforcement as well. That way we can keep them fully abreast of our own activities. And they can interfere into our own activities should it threaten the world at large." Michael straightened and beamed with an entirely fake warmth, "In the spirit of reciprocity with our neighbors, of course."
Theodore frowned slightly at the glint in his eye, drumming his fingers silently on the table.

"I think history has proved muggles to be a far bigger threat to our safety then we our to theirs. The secrecy act is in place for a reason. They out number us, and they've proved time and time again it's not safe for them to know about wizarding society; they come after us and hurt themselves in the process."

"Besides that, the muggles are notified when their world is in harms way; remember when Sirius Black escaped? Practically the whole of Europe was notified."
Michael had to admit to feeling a little disturbed at these words coming from Theodore. it smacked of Purebloodedness.... of elitism. Of xenophobia. He was hard pressed to avoid displaying his unease as well, with these words coming from his friend. He took a moment to consider his words, eyes upon Theodore in a withering way.

"Really?" Michael said with a curt nod of the head and the slightest nod of the head. "Number of Muggles killed in the current conflict... a couple of hundred. Number of wizards killed in the current conflict by Muggles..." His head tilted and his eyes narrowed further, "Funny, I count that at zero." His tone was just slightly mocking, as if the point should have been obvious. It felt so alien and yet too familiar considering their past.

"You just said that we should be partners... neighbors... in this new world of yours. Everybody watching and interfering with the affairs of everyone else for the betterment of the whole. Its funny... if Muggles aren't going to be allowed to interfere with our business, then why can we interfere with theirs. Are you suggesting that we police them? Shepherd them? Control them? That's less neighbors and more... well..." Michael leaned back in his chair, "Xenophobic. A prelude to invasion and domination."
"We weren't talking about the current conflict," Theodore snapped back, not liking to made out to be in the same fold as the blood purist. "We were talking about...Hiroshima...and about Ireland; conflicts started by muggles and how they effect us. And yes, in those situations, if it will keep me from being blown up by some nutcase, or being shot at in the street, then yes, I think we should shepherd them if need be. But don't try and compare the situations, they're not the same."
Michael felt a spike in his anger. "Oh really." Michael said rather coldly, his demeanor slipping with ease into that cool-tempered mask that slightly mocked and gave away little emotion. "I would say its pretty much the same to the Muggles. Its amusing that you can look past one action- the current war- and focus solely on what they have indirectly done to us. How do you justify that, hm?"

Michael's blank look remained in place, its pokerface visage burning frustratingly without strong emotion. "Whereas the current conflict and indeed most conflicts involving the theory of Muggles vs. Wizards, wizards have waged war against Muggles. When those giants destroyed that bridge... they were targeting Muggles, not other wizards. So justify that if you can. We have waged war at them... they have waged war and we have have simply been in the way. Or an unfortunate bystander."
"That is an... interesting point, Mister Corner," Sturgis acknowledged with a tilt of his head, "but there are some factors that have yet to be considered."

He adjusted his stance to keep himself from cramping up as he watched the debate. "How many Muggles even know that we exist? It is easy to say that no Muggles have directly targeted wizards - which isn't completely true, and I will be giving some examples of just such incidences in an upcoming class - but how are we to know what may have happened should Muggles have been aware of our existence? It is a question that is excellent for theorizing, but has no practical answer as the fact remains that to most Muggles, witches and wizards are ficitious characters, often derided and demonized in elements of fiction."

His gaze moved over the class as he prepared to ask his next question. "Tell me, out of curiosity - why do you, each of you, believe we have gone to such great lengths to keep our world secret from Muggles?"
Michael raised his hand almost as eagerly as Hermione Granger might have, his lengthy, thin limb holding in the air while his lips twitched into a surreptitious smile.

Sturgis rolled his eyes at the boy's act. "Yes, Mister Corner? You have something to add? Or an answer to the question?"
"Answering the question... sir," Corner replied, his smirk turning a bit more. His hands folded over themselves neatly on the table, "Because the wizarding populace at large is grossly misinformed as to current Muggle trends and beliefs. Hence why they often cannot successfully blend into Muggle society through fashion and behavior. Wizards have old information. They base their concerns after what happened five-hundred years ago with the Burning Times and the Malleus Maleficareum."

Michael smiled and his eyes slowly blinked, "They are often ignorant of the advancement of positive 'wizard-based' influences found in Muggle societies such as the popularity of High Fantasy novels by Tolkien and Anthony. The Dragonlance novels. The supernatural abilities found in various comic book series are another example, where those with 'magical' powers are as often the saviors and heroes of Humanity as their enemies. Even television and the cinema have held wizards and witches in high regard- with Glenda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz and I Dream of Jeannie, to movies depicting the good, useful magic practiced by Muggle Pagan religions."
"First of all, Mister Corner, while you are right in that much of the wizarding populace is misinformed about the Muggle world... I, however, am not. Ten points from Ravenclaw for underestimating your professor," he said loudly.

"Now, this is actually a subject that I had planned on covering at a later date - though as all of you can see, often different topics converge and interrelate. Yes, just as we have our Martin Miggs, the Muggle world has their own personages in literature and other forms of media. However, to think that those images are accepted without reproach, or actually lend toward understanding between our world and one that does not know we exist... that is another thing altogether. How often - Mister Corner and all others who regularly interact with the Muggle world - are such works brought to controversy because of their supposed influence over young minds, saying they would turn them to witchcraft and Satan worship?"

He smirked. "In fact, there is a work that was just released in June of this year, a story about a boy who believed himself to be a simple Muggle, only to discover he was a wizard - something akin to many students at this school. Due to its growing popularity, there is already a minor backlash that I believe shall grow in proportion to the popularity of the story, as such things do. It might be an interesting phenomenon to watch for, to those that are interested."

He slid his hands into his pockets and began pacing along the front of the classroom, then along the aisles. "Now, let us return to the original questions that have yet to be answered. I have yet to hear any opinions on why any of you believe the secrecy exists."

He did, however, pause his pacing right next to Corner's desk. "Oh, and by the way, Mister Corner... the magic in your 'I dream of Jeannie'? Were she still alive, my sister would argue that it was not about magic at all, but an allegory to the power of women, how it has disastrous consequences if unchecked, and how it requires domination and control by a male presence. Oh, and even Dorothy did not wish to remain in a magical world - she simply wanted to go home."

He continued on his way, waiting for another student to pick up the thread of the debate, or to see if Corner had anything further to add and thus give Sturgis an opportunity to take away more points... or more.
"I would argue that it isn't based upon our ignorance of them, if I may sir." Linus chimed up about the time that Sturgis talked past he and Theodore. "Corner pointed out a truth- our culture is woefully ignorant of the Muggle world, and they of ours by design. However my argument would be this is an end result, not a causal factor. Our reason for distancing ourselves is one that has always existed in the wizarding and Muggles worlds."

Linus rose a single dark eyebrow. "The possession of and protection of resources. We have a resource- magic- that the Muggles lack. History shows us that Humankind's continued evolution has shown a thirst for the mastery of resource through skill. Muggles have turned to the fossil fuels and their atomics in a search for the perfect renewable resource, and we possess it. Knowing this, we have naturally sought to protect what we have, because history also shows us that those who lack want. They covet."

Linus gestured to Michael, "Corner here just proved my point for me. Look at the Muggle preoccupation with magic. Something they do not have has been storied and occasionally demonized. The Witch Trials and th Inquisition were an attempt by the Muggle Church to reign in a group that has a power the church itself lacked and therefore saw as a threat. In fairness I'm sure if the situations were flipped that we would covet such a thing as well, but thats simply not the reality."

Linus folded limbs over themselves and gripped his elbows, following Sturgis' walk to the front of the room, "Further, sometimes it is necessary to reign in such power for the benefit of the lacking party. Would you hand one of those guns to someone who wasn't properly school in how to use it? No. Even the Muggles understand it. It is my understanding that with the proliferation of atomics, they have tried to stop developing nations from creating it themselves. Power has to be used responsibly."