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[Hogwart's Musings] Should the House System be Abolished?

kitty voodoo

Social Justice Slytherin
Validated User
So I just started a new Potterverse game over on the PbP channel and it;s during the first term of school after the Battle of Hogwarts. I can't sleep right now and I've been laying here thinking about it and wondering, if Hogwarts would be better served as an institution if they just got rid of the House system in it's entirety. I mean from a practical standpoint, the houses are basically just dorms, places for the students to sleep. So couldn't they just have two boy's dorms and two girl's dorms and be done with it?

I mean, besides intramural sports, what purpose do the houses serve? As it, even considering sports, they seem purpose built to create animosity and rivalries between students. And they do it so effectively that your House affiliation becomes an integral part of your identity long after graduation and throughout the rest of your Wizarding life.

So what ya think?
 

HDimagination

Building something out of Scrap
Validated User
Sounds like you've found the plot of your game to me. Make a group of kids unhappy with their house assignments and start to Rebel against the system. Could be the Player characters. Ask them all what houses their characters want to be in, then sort them into a different house. Maybe some-one messes with the sorting hat, and every-body gets but into a wildly different house than they normally would have been. It could also be because a group of new Slythryn students don't want to be labeled as potential Voldemorts for the rest of their lives, so decide to cause some trouble. Or maybe some muggle born kids who see the whole thing for the archaic system that it is.

I think there is a lot of fertile ground for stories here.
 

kitty voodoo

Social Justice Slytherin
Validated User
Sounds like you've found the plot of your game to me. Make a group of kids unhappy with their house assignments and start to Rebel against the system. Could be the Player characters. Ask them all what houses their characters want to be in, then sort them into a different house. Maybe some-one messes with the sorting hat, and every-body gets but into a wildly different house than they normally would have been. It could also be because a group of new Slythryn students don't want to be labeled as potential Voldemorts for the rest of their lives, so decide to cause some trouble. Or maybe some muggle born kids who see the whole thing for the archaic system that it is.

I think there is a lot of fertile ground for stories here.
I'm playing in the game not running it. I'm also a proud #Slytherin4Life. This is all just an academic (hee!!) discussion. But ya ain't wrong, there is some serious game fodder there.
 

s/LaSH

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
This is headcanon on my part, but it may help to drive home how truly alien the house system truly is.

Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin were real people, who lived a little over one thousand years ago. At the time, England was under the rule of the House of Wessex, but Hogwarts was in independent Scotland (then under the House of Alpin) and remained so until relatively recently (about 4 centuries back with the House of Stuart). Within the lifetime of the Hogwarts founders, England passed from the rule of Wessex to the House of Denmark, back to Wessex, to the House of Godwin, to the House of Normandy; the process was tumultuous. The House of Alpin was still in charge up North, maintaining a relatively sedate custom of assassinating each other for the kingship, until Malcolm II ended all opposition and founded the House of Dunkeld, which held for another two centuries.

Where were the Hogwarts founders in all this? Well, they weren't hiding out in the Wizarding World; that divide did not exist in any formal sense for many centuries yet. They doubtless considered themselves distinct from muggles, but with populations so low and no other culture to model themselves on, I figure they would have been at least somewhat involved with society of the day. When we talk about the House of Gryffindor, we are speaking of something contemporaneous with the House of Normandy, and probably just as powerful (albeit smaller in size).

In those days, a House was not a school organisation. The concept of a school barely existed. Instead, it was much more like a literal household, whose members lived together, fought together, and prospered or perished together. If you were with the House of Gryffindor, you might very well be some sort of wizard-thane, sworn to a life in common cause with Godric. That cause was steeped in the feudal system. The "house" was probably the wizard equivalent to the castle or monastery.

Given a choice between the Norman Conquest and the relative stability of the Dunkelds, it seems the Hogwarts founders decided to set up shop in the North. They took the uncommon step of forming an alliance, and settling in a single building: Hogwarts. Considering the wizardly love of knowledge, they may well have been inspired by Classical theories of government such as Plato's democracy; or they may have always practiced their own group forms of government. This was the era of the Icelandic Thing, after all, a body best described as "all the people who rejected the King of Norway and went to live in Iceland as equals".

Early Hogwarts was, therefore, basically a recruitment system for four feudal Houses. It wasn't a bad deal for the wizards; people would be prone to mistrust them in regular society, and magic brought great power and prosperity to its wielders. (Note, however, that they would probably not be at risk of burning. The Medieval view of magic was that it didn't exist, Pope said so, therefore it was so. Burnings were a more modern phenomenon.) As the population was so low, there were very few wizards around, and it stayed that way for a while - there was the Norman Conquest, then the Anarchy, and just a whole lot of bad times.

I figure the early Houses actually lived in Hogwarts their entire lives. It's only in more recent centuries that the school has become an educational institution, and wizards have spread out to live in other communities. For all I know, London was goblin territory until the time of Columbus. This kind of concentration isn't as severe as it sounds, thanks to magical transportation options; they could travel further from Scotland than the King in England could achieve with all his navies.

So there's fertile historical ground for disputing the House system as the remnants of a feudal warlord's retinue. How accurate it is, I cannot say; but I figured this out, so I'm sure someone else actually living in a Medieval castle full of ancient wizard books could jump to certain conclusions as well.
 

Propagandor

Square-Cube Law Compliant
Validated User
Pretty much yes.

Slytherin is rotten to the core but you can't just get rid of one house. Remove them all and reshuffle everyone into four brand new houses.

This time make sure none of them are based on ambition and blood purity
 

Tonbo_Karasu

Registered User
Validated User
The House system is still quite an integral part of many Edinburgh schools, and not just the private or residential ones. People are assigned basically randomly, so it's not as descriptive as the Hogwarts houses. Even then, chance means that some houses get a reputation for being good in certain things
They serve as a way for pupils to get to know older and younger pupils and those in different classes. They are also the basis of competition not just in sports but also such things as music, debate and sometimes academic.

Some examples
Boroughmuir: Westhall, Hartington, Viewforth, Leamington, Montpelier, Bruntsfield
Edinburgh Academy: Carmichael, Cockburn, Kinross
Heriot's : Castle, Greyfriars, Lauriston, Raeburn
Watson's: Cockburn-Greyfriars, Lauriston, Melville-Ogilvie, Preston-Falconhall
 

Asklepios

Registered User
Validated User
It's actually a common feature of British schools in general, but in the absence of a Sorting Hat children get allocated randomly, so it's any stereotypes are purely culturally perpetuated.

I remember at my school the houses were Tindall, Mildmay, Strutt and Holland. We, Mildmay house, believed we apparently been bad at cricket and good at music for "at least 20 years", though in retrospect it seems more likely we were commenting on trends at the time, and assigning a false history to it. Mind you, I'd love to pop back to the school now, 30 years on, and see if they still believe the same thing...

So I think if you're running a game about the House system being weird, it should be noted that for the British, the House system is normal. It's the Sorting Hat that's weird.
 

kitty voodoo

Social Justice Slytherin
Validated User
They are also the basis of competition not just in sports but also such things as music, debate and sometimes academic.
See this is the part that get me, cuz here in the states, our high school sport's teams compete against other schools, not against their own students.

Edit: You know, maybe, instead of getting rid of the Houses, Hogwarts should just get rid of Quidditch. I mean, if were being honest, as written, it is a very stupid game...
 

Herne

Registered User
Validated User
Oh we do that two, but intra-mural competition gives ; 1) more kids a chance to take the stage (as it were) and 2) gives practice completion time to kids who're going to be in bigger inter-school matches.
 
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