When we look back on our school days, it’s usually with all kinds of mixed emotions. Yes, they’re supposed to be the Best Days Of Your Life™, but the truth is, that’s a bit of a rose-tinted view.
Sure, it was a carefree, friendship-making time, and adult responsibilities hadn’t hit us like several dumpsters full of angry cement yet. That’s all pretty darn great. However, it was also a time of youthful broken hearts and hilarious fashion and/or hairstyle decisions that came back to bite us on the cheeks later (think Ross’s afro in the Friends flashback episodes). Not to mention the darn bullies.
In short, we’ve got to be careful not to get sucked into all the romance and nostalgia of high school memories. The good times were very good, but the bad times were all kinds of awful.
If you ask any Potterhead, they’d probably tell you that their number one life ambition would be to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (whatever their age). Again, this would be fantastic in all kinds of ways, but let’s not forget: a magical education is a serious business.
Hogwarts rules are numerous, often ridiculous and diligently upheld. There’s a strict curfew, corridors that are forbidden for a darn good reason, and sometimes even dementors to stay on the right side of. Not to mention the fact that, at one point, male and female students were forbidden to stray within eight inches of each other! Let’s take a look at some of the rules Hogwarts students had to obey, and others that were frequently flouted.
Now, in the magical world, you never quite know what you can trust. Heck, over the course of the series, everything from a darn diary to a necklace has tried to bring somebody to a dark end.
It’d be super useful to be able to instantly tidy a room with a sweep of a wand, but is it worth that to live in the magical world, where a drinking cup or something could send you to the hospital?
Let’s not even get started on the Whomping Willow, a rare, valuable and incredibly aggressive species of magical plant. The Whomping Willow was planted in the grounds of Hogwarts to guard the entrance to the Shrieking Shack (a secret passage Lupin used during his werewolf transformations), and students are forbidden to approach the tree.
Considering that it came close to destroying a whole darn car in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, like it was playing that Street Fighter minigame, that’s probably for the best.
As fans will remember, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix introduces one of the franchise’s most hated characters: Dolores Umbridge. The sanctimonious, toad-tastic professor is often considered more loathsome than Voldemort, and it’s not hard to see why.
When she weasled her way into the role of High Inquisitor (and later headmistress) of Hogwarts, she implemented all manner of draconian ‘Educational Decrees;’ school rules that just took things far too far. One of the worst of these was Educational Decree Number Thirty-One, which stated that boys and girls were forbidden to be within eight inches of each other at any time.
Naturally, this was only a rule for the briefest time, and equally naturally, it was constantly flouted.
Now, the Hogwarts library is a super-important place for the students. After all, they can’t just whip out their phones and Google the answer to absolutely any question they happen to have. They’ve got to take out a book and do some research like it’s 1525 or something.
With that in mind, it stands to reason that the library’s got to be well-stocked and ready for anything. So, yes, some of the volumes in there are going to be every possible kind of inappropriate for the younger students. As we learn in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, they’ve got a book in there that manifests ghostly face-pages that scream at you, so it’s probably best to take that keep the heck out of the restricted section rule seriously.
There’s an obvious problem with teaching students a whole array of magical spells, isn’t there? Yep, that’s the one: somebody’s likely to head back to their dormitory with a frog’s head in place of their own or wine glasses for hands or something.
As such, Hogwarts maintains a strict no-magic-in-the-corridors rule. Outside of the school, as we know, underage magic is also prohibited, and this is more of an extension of that than anything. Throughout the series, there are several cases of students breaking this rule, but it doesn’t tend to end well for them. Outside of lessons, those wands should be away.
That’s right, friends. If there’s one Hogwarts rule that the professors just won’t stop mentioning, it’s the no wandering the corridors at night thing.
Over their career at the school, Harry Potter and his friends broke this one on countless occasions, but that wasn’t exactly their fault. After all, Dumbledore himself gave Harry his father’s invisibility cloak as a Christmas gift, essentially giving him permission to blunder around in the dark. That’s some preferential treatment, right there.
Considering the fact that a huge, slathering snake spent a year cruising around those corridors (and an escaped felon who was believed to be hunting Harry down once broke in), you might have expected Harry to take a break from the night-time wanderings, but there it was.
Now, see, this is another Hogwarts rule that just doesn’t quite follow the guidelines of common sense and logic. It’s confirmed right from the first installment, as Harry and his new friends sit down to their first Hogwarts meal, that the Forbidden Forest is… well, it’s forbidden.
You might think it’s just a little bit of a questionable decision to have a forest full of werewolves and other horrors on the grounds of a school, but we’re not here to question these things.
We are, however, here to question why they think it’s acceptable to send students in there on detention. Still, it sends out a clear message: behave your darn self at Hogwarts, if you don’t want to wind up as a werewolf’s chew toy because your homework was late or something.
Now, this one’s a bit of a grey area. During an intense Occlumency lesson, we’re given a brief glimpse into Severus Snape’s memories, and see Lily Evan dipping her toes into the Great Lake.
We also know that first-year reach Hogwarts by boating across the lake, while graduating seventh-years leave by boating back across it.
Outside of instances like these, as Pottermore reports, there were regulations against swimming/boating here. Which is, to be frank, completely understandable. While a lot of the aquatic life in there tends to be somewhat harmless (the giant squid is kinda-sorta domesticated and loves letting the students tickle its tentacles), the fact remains that there’s a darn giant squid in there.
School uniforms have always been a bit of a controversial topic. On the one hand, they promote a sense of community, togetherness, and they look rather smart too. On the other, they do tend to quell any kind of individuality and personal identity among the students.
Over at Hogwarts, as we’ve reported before, there’s one rather clichéd piece of attire that students of magic just cannot get away from: pointy wizard/witch hats.
Interestingly, though, they’re very rarely seen in the movies or the books. The final scene of the film adaption of Sorcerer’s Stone features them prominently, but they were more or less dispensed with after that. They’re just a little too formal for everyday wear, presumably.
Speaking of the special treatment the super-famous Harry Potter is given, how about this whole situation? There he was, happily flying about on a broomstick Madame Hooch was gone, despite her promise that any student who tried to do so would be expelled.
For Harry, though, Neville Longbottom’s spectacularly useless Remebrall (it tells you if you’ve forgotten something, but not what you’ve forgotten) was more important than the risk of his falling off of a broom and leaving a heroic, splattery mess on the Hogwarts lawn.
Because it was Harry, though, everything was totally fine, and he was rewarded with a world-class racing broom and a place on the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
In the third installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling introduced a new element: visits to Hogsmeade village. This privilege was only for students who were third-years and above, and gives them a unique opportunity to experience a uniquely-magical community.
Considering the fact that some Muggle-born students may never have had such a chance before, the Hogsmeade visits were a huge deal. At first, Harry himself didn’t have the opportunity to go (as Uncle Vernon didn’t take kindly to his sister being inflated like a huge, tweed helium balloon and didn’t sign his permission slip), but made clandestine trips there by using the Marauder’s Map.
This was another of the dastardly Umbridge’s Educational Decrees, but let’s be honest: just about anybody would have made and enforced this rule.
As fans will know, Fred and George Weasley were less than model students. Unless, you know, the model was Dennis the Menace or somebody. The mischievous twins were indifferent to their studies, as their ambition was to open a joke shop (Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes went on to be a huge success).
Before leaving school, they developed and trialed some of their products on their fellow students. Their Skiving Snackboxes proved incredibly popular, which isn’t surprising. They were a range of sweets, such as Fever Fudge, in two color-coded parts: one made the eater appear ill, allowing them to leave class, and the other instantly cured them once they’d left the classroom.
The Weasley’s joke shop shenanigans aside, there are lots of other magical items that are forbidden within Hogwarts. Love potions are a big one.
This is no surprise, really. There are so many hormones flying around at Hogwarts they’re practically ricocheting off the walls, and you don’t want to introduce love potions into that mix. You absolutely do not.
Over the course of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we learn a little more about why that is. Remember when Ron ate the potion-laced chocolates that Romilda Vane meant for Harry? The whole situation was as hilarious as it was tragic.
And now for another Educational Decree interlude.
Potterheads all know that the Lovegood family are considered just a little on the eccentric side. Luna’s father, Xenophilius Lovegood, is considered a bit of a figure of fun as a result. He’s the editor and publisher of the magazine The Quibbler, which also tended to be considered a bit of a joke.
Later in the series, though, it became the only magazine that dared to print the truth about Voldemort and his actions, and to try and drum up support for the fugitive Harry Potter. It didn’t do poor old Xenophilius much good in the end, but it did get his magazine banned at the school.
Naturally, all this did was ensure that every student read it.
It’s important to note that it’s not just students who are bound by school rules. Sometimes, they’re for the children's’ protection too and keep the teachers themselves in check.
One of these rules, as Snape complains, is that professors aren’t allowed to use Veritaserum (one of the world’s strongest truth serums) on students.
When he believes that Harry is stealing from his storeroom in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Snape threatens that he can get around this by claiming that his hand accidentally slipped over Harry’s glass one morning (a couple of drops of Veritaserum is all that’s needed), but it doesn’t come to that.
As is the case with the underage magic situation, this new rule isn’t just a Hogwarts thing, but a regulation that extends to magical society in general.
As fans know, wizards and witches are able to become animagi (transform into a particular animal and back again at will) through extensive study. Professor McGonagall, for instance, has a tabby cat form with distinctive markings around its eyes that match her glasses.
Because of the sketchy implications of this sort of ability, every animagus is required to inform the ministry of their powers. The Marauders, however, did not, which his exactly how Peter Pettigrew was able to frame Sirius Black for the crimes he committed.
There’s a curious injustice in the enchantments protecting Hogwarts castle, and it’s one that you’d never have heard about if you haven’t read the books.
Godric Gryffindor himself enchanted the staircase to the girls’ dormitory in Gryffindor Tower, so it becomes a slide if boys attempt to ascend it. In Order of the Phoenix, Harry and Ron try to enter to show Hermione something important, only for a loud klaxon to ring out and the stairs disappear from under their feet as Ron reaches the sixth step.
The Gryffindor girls laugh at the two boys in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the slide, and Ron bemoans the fact that Hermione has entered their dormitory lots of times. She responds that Gryffindor probably just thought that girls were more trustworthy than boys.
Albus Dumbledore has a unique way of welcoming new students, doesn’t he? Some headmasters might stop and think, wait, there are excitable and impressionable eleven-year-olds here, it’d probably be best not to mention the grim and dark demise that awaits them if they open the wrong door up on the third floor, but not good old Albus.
Heck, other headmasters might even decide against putting a huge, three-headed dog in their school in the first place, but that’s neither here nor there.
The important thing is, Fluffy only lived at the school during Harry’s first year (although he and his friends did go to the forbidden corridor regardless), so this rule wasn’t too much of a big deal overall.
As any parent will tell you, musical toys of any kind seem like a great idea at the time, until… well, children actually play with them. The fact is, children are relentless noise machines at the best of times, and they need absolutely zero help on that score.
You can just imagine the ghastly cacophony a Screaming Yo-Yo would make. We never really get to see how they work, as they’re mostly just mentioned by name, but they presumably shriek every time they go up and down the string. That being the case, it’s hard to blame Argus Filch for adding them to the list of banned toys and other items.
That’s right, friends, the devious Dolores is back at it again. While her tyrannical rule over Hogwarts was mercifully brief, it resulted in all kinds of odd rules and regulations, as we’ve seen throughout this rundown. One of them came about a result of her getting wind of ‘Dumbledore’s Army,’ a student organisation that saw Harry secretly teaching his fellow pupils defensive magic.
The ruling was that student organisations were forbidden unless approved by Umbridge herself, under threat of expulsion. This didn’t stop the DA continuing its operations in the Room of Requirement until they were discovered, though, whereupon Dumbledore took the fall for Harry and his friends.
In total, there are 142 staircases at Hogwarts. With the vast size of the school in mind, that’s a dizzying concept in and of itself, and it’s a miracle that any of the first years could find their way anywhere on time.
Don’t forget, though, these are magical staircases. They move and change on a whim, leading somewhere entirely different on certain days (or just because they feel like it). If you struggled to find your math classroom back at your own, conventional school as a first year, spare a thought for the unfortunate students of Hogwarts.
In spite of all this, professors do not tolerate tardiness.
That’s right, friends. Umbridge’s draconian regulations were mostly designed to make it as difficult as possible for the students (who, other than her own Inquisitorial Squad, largely hated her) to make trouble for her. It wasn’t just the children, however: she imposed harsh restrictions on her teachers too.
Outside of that, though, this decree is just another example of her authoritarian regime in action. Dang.
Now, admittedly, this one’s probably pretty darn self-explanatory and reasonable too. Dementors are some of the most ghastly creatures in the series; foul, fetid beings with faces that only the Grim Reaper’s mama could love, which feed on every hopeful feeling and joyful thought their victims possess.
If they get the chance, they can even suck their victims’ souls straight out of their mouth, leaving them a hollow, defeated shell. Do that sound like a good time? That’s because it isn’t.
Again, then, they’re not the ideal school guests, but Dumbledore was forced to have some in attendance to guard Hogwarts while Sirius Black was on the run. He explained to the students in no uncertain terms what horrific creatures they are, and not to cross them under any circumstances.
After all, that’d be a bit of a PR situation if Draco Malfoy or somebody went home for the holidays without his soul attached, wouldn’t it? You can be darn sure that his father would hear about that.
As we know, you’ll rarely see Harry without Ron and Hermione in tow. The Golden Trio started to form the moment Harry and Ron met, on their very first journey to Hogwarts. Initially, they didn’t get along with Hermione at all, but after that sorry business with the troll in the girl’s toilets, the group was complete (and that’s not a sentence you get to use very often).
Technically, they wouldn’t have had the chance to pal around dring that brief window in Order of the Phoenix, thanks to yet another of Umbridge’s odd decrees: never mind student societies, gatherings of three or more pupils were forbidden anywhere outside of lessons.
Fans often discuss the fact that we never actually get to see the Hufflepuff common room. Harry enters Slytherin’s in Chamber of Secrets (while he and Ron assumed the appearances of Crabbe and Goyle) and Ravenclaw’s in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which searching for the mysterious diadem), but the plot doesn’t call for a visit to Hufflepuff’s. So, we’re out of luck on that one.
This interesting thing is, we’re lucky to even get to see three out of four, because the story’s told through Harry’s perspective. As a Gryffindor, he isn’t actually permitted to visit any other common room.
Neither’s anybody else, of course; this isn’t just anti-Harry bias in action.
To close out the rundown, we’ve got another Hogwarts regulation that’s entirely sensible and fair (yep, they do have a couple of those). Naturally, magical people have developed all kinds of methods to help their memories during tests: potions, Auto-Answer Quills, Self-Correcting Ink, Detachable Cribbing Cuffs…
As you’d expect of people who can clean houses and travel long distances with a wave of their wands, they’re excellent at cutting corners and giving themselves unfair advantages. Unsurprisingly, as McGonagall explains during Order of the Phoenix, all these things are banned in the examination rooms, and anti-cheating charms are cast on the papers themselves.