A thought on Harry Potter: watching the just-released film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I was reminded of some thoughts I had when reading that book a couple of years ago. Does anyone else notice that, with the intrusion of the Ministry of Magic’s Dolores Umbridge as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher (and eventually headmistress), that Hogwarts goes from being a private school to being a public (government-run) school? The walls are soon filled with newly issued 'Educational Decrees,' and Umbridge goes on a spree of banning and prohibiting and forbidding with the zeal that only a bureaucrat can know.
These books are known, among other things, for their satire: Rowling is particularly ruthless in her portrayal of unscrupulous and inept politicians and media-hounds. We know, from other interviews with Rowling, that magical children are homeschooled until they reach the age of eleven, upon which many go to schools like Hogwarts, or Durmstrang, though some continue on as homeschoolers. There certainly seems to be an underlying satire against government-sponsored education in these books, and especially in Order of the Phonenix. In one part of the movie (can’t remember if this line is in the book or not), Hermione says, ‘The Ministry [of Magic, i.e., the Government] is interfering at Hogwarts.’ This is obviously considered a bad thing, in these stories. I wonder how many readers/viewers will get the point and pull their kids out of government schools?