Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Harry Potter and the Amazing Adviser

I was kind of stunned to see folks either seriously or mockingly suggest on the Political Science Job Rumor site that the Harry Potter books might have encouraged them to go to grad school, hoping to find a wonderful mentor.  This is a stunning case of confirmation basis (a running Spew theme) if it had any truth to it.  I doubt that it does, but given how foggy I am after driving to and from Ottawa for yet another interview about Canada and Afghanistan (a fascinating interview with a real Mountie about police training and how the police side of things is overseen, compared to other parts of the CA effort in Afghanistan), I will take the easy blog inspiration and run with it (spoilers below).

Ok, Dumbledore was a great mentor to Harry, but he was an exception as far as we can tell with headmaster mostly remaining an administrator.  So, aspiring grad students might think that they are just like Harry.  Doomed?  Oops.  Plus didn't Dumbledore set Harry up to die, kind of?

Perhaps students considered Minerva McGonagall to be their likely adviser.  They must like tough, stern, but fair.  Ok, I guess I can see that.

Potions Prof: Either nasty Snape or status-conscious Slughorn.

But it is the post of Defense Against Dark Arts that should give any aspiring student pause if Hogwarts is what they imagine grad school to be.  Of the six (we shall discount the last year since we do not realy see much of Hogwarts in the seventh book), we get:
  • crazy/possessed, 
  • incompetent/narcissist, 
  • sincere and competent but split personality, 
  • quite good but with a hidden agenda, 
  • bureaucratic tyrant,
  • quite nasty but with a hidden agenda.
So, while we would like to think of Hogwarts as a wonderfully magical place, what we have seen of it provides pretty dismal adviser models.  Perhaps that makes Hogwarts a realistic model after all?

Update: So, of course, this raises the question of which model is your adviser most like?


Brandon Valeriano said...

Grad school is like the room of hidden things, at least that is what my statistics program was like.

Mrs. Spew said...

You forgot #7 Dark Arts teacher -- the Carrow twins -- sociopathic torturers