Professor Estelle Blair

Dec. 19, 2020, 1:23 a.m.

Ready, set, fight! ...I mean, debate! [Cultural Studies, All Years]

Technically, Estelle was still on maternity leave, but she was impatient and Toby had the conviction of a flobberworm, so she had talked her way back onto school grounds with ease. She had made it through the first couple weeks of classes and she was determined to wrap up the end of semester, if only to make sure the students came away with something useful after Jeremy went off-book with her lesson plans.

Not that he wasn’t a decent substitute. She hadn’t exactly left him with “lesson plans” so much as “a hastily written flowchart shoved through the hospital foyer’s fireplace in hopes it would make it over the Floo in one piece” - to say things had happened quickly was an understatement - and she didn’t honestly expect him to have read her mind. But she still wanted to see her students off, and it would be a welcome break from chasing around their daughter in her newly-discovered ability to crawl everywhere.

Today the younger years had been instructed to meet her in the Diner, as per the note left on each House’s common-room noticeboard (an extra note had been left on the door of the lecture hall, for those who somehow hadn’t learned to check the noticeboards). Estelle had invited along her upper-year students too, not making it mandatory as a rare courtesy for how harried some of them looked with exams looming, but offering it as an extra credit opportunity. With their (presumably) advanced experience, they would be doing the younger students a favour, really.

Using the help of RMI’s elves, the Diner had been set up with an assortment of items on each table. The selection ranged from rocking hippogriffs and ‘Operation’ to crayons & paper, a Victorian-style haunted dollhouse, and everything in between. Most would be familiar to North Americans, but some items came from other cultures and might cause confusion. The centre of the dining hall was left open, which was where she had gathered the students.

“Children’s entertainment,” the petite witch began, one hand folded into the pocket of her chinos, the other resting on a table behind her. “Something we’re all familiar with, whether from younger siblings, personal experience as a child, or having several of your own, though hopefully none of you fall in that last category, ey?” She ran a quick mental tally, concluded they were due for another round of Sex Ed, and filed that for later. “In any case, you should know that both wizarding and Muggle households have their own set of tools used to entertain children and provide some form of enrichment. Toys, games, crafts, and so on. Sometimes, Muggles and wizardkind have developed their own version of essentially the same thing, and other times, they’ve gone off to make something completely unique. All these things work, in the sense that they do what they’re supposed to - but which are better, magical or Muggle?”

Some chatter built up at this question, and Estelle generously counted to five before clapping her hands for silence. “Don’t tell me yet. Today, you’re going to tell each other. I will be assigning each of you a position. I don’t care if it’s not your personal stance on the matter, because the point of this class is to teach you what about culture?” She called on a student at random and frowned at their answer. “Not what I was aiming for, but thank you. The point is to learn that every culture is right by its own perspective, and the best thing we can do when studying other cultures is not to judge that perspective, but appreciate how that perspective judges others as less-than. Cultural understanding is a step closer when we recognize there are no universal rights.”

She paused again, this time to allow them to absorb her statement, before nodding. “Righto. I will divide you into pairings, assign each of you a position, and then you can go pick a table. Look over the items at your table and think about the position you’ve been assigned. How would your position argue that it’s right? Each person should take turns trying to persuade their partner. Please keep track of your debate - I expect you to present a summary at the end and highlight the points you felt were most or least compelling. As a bonus, for any items on your table that come in twos, talk it out with your partner and see if you can reach a consensus on whether the magical or non-magical version came first; ‘owl or the egg’, if you will. Any questions?” Estelle checked that they understood before starting to count them off into pairs, identifying a ‘magic is better’ or ‘Muggle is better’ position for each student. After so many months spent with her own child, toddler, and infant, she was hoping to overhear some quality conversation today. She’d even take an argument, as long as it had full sentences and no tears.

OOC: Arguments with less than full sentences and/or tears will receive bonus points and Estelle’s reproach. Ye be warned. Have fun!

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Ready, set, fight! ...I mean, debate! [Cultural Studies, All Years] - Estelle Blair || December 19
I missed the rules somehow - Remington Burnham || December 20