Given its founder’s decision to only accept “those whose /Intelligence is surest...” maybe it’s not surprising that a number of former Ravenclaws became Hogwarts teachers. Although, from Professor Flitwick’s Charms expertise to Professor Trelawney’s somewhat unorthodox Divination methods and Professor Lockhart’s, ahem, creative use of the Memory Charm, Ravenclaw’s teaching staff was as varied as its student body.
But that’s the thing about being a Ravenclaw: despite appearances, it was never just about academics. Here are a few other life lessons they taught us along the way.
Hufflepuff students accessed their Common Room by tapping out a rhythmic sequence on a large barrel. Gryffindor and Slytherin’s Common Rooms required students to say the correct password. Ravenclaw Tower, obviously, demanded more. Every time a Ravenclaw wanted to chill out after lessons, grab their Quidditch gear, or even go to bed, they first had to respond to a question that had no (obviously) correct answer.
As Luna said, when Harry asked what would happen if you answered wrongly: “‘Well, you have to wait for somebody who gets it right…That way you learn, you see?’”
So far, so Ravenclaw. But this is not just theorising for the sake of it. Ravenclaw Tower’s regular question-and-answer sessions showed its students that there often is no simple answer – and in those cases, you’d do well to consider all possibilities. And sometimes, being open to learning from others is the key to unlock even the most riddle-some door.
Ravenclaw’s reputation for collecting the brightest minds meant it also had a large proportion of brilliant eccentrics. The singularly focused expert wandmaker Garrick Ollivander was a Ravenclaw. Uric the Oddball was a Ravenclaw. The tiny but mighty Professor Flitwick, a champion dueller, was Head of Ravenclaw House. And then, of course, there was Luna Lovegood – arguably everyone’s favourite Ravenclaw.
This is a house that welcomed individuality: encouraged it, even. As they say, geniuses are often out of step with ordinary folk, and true Ravenclaws know that it really doesn’t matter what you look like or how you dress, as long as you’re willing to learn. If you’ve got a passion for something, then even better. So wear those radish earrings with pride, and don’t ever worry about what anyone else thinks of you.
Ask a Ravenclaw and they might tell you – the devil is in the detail. Who can forget Professor Flitwick’s Wingardium Leviosa lesson, and the example he made of poor Wizard Baruffio – you know, the one “‘who said ‘s’ instead of ‘f’ and found himself on the floor with a buffalo on his chest.’”
But paying attention is not just important in class. It’s also essential for building relationships. Professor Lockhart certainly knew this – he wouldn’t have been able to take credit for other people’s achievements if he hadn’t been paying attention. Of course, most Ravenclaws didn’t use their abilities to charm others into giving up their secrets like Lockhart did, but most of them were pretty insightful. Ollivander, for example, used his ability to read people in order to facilitate their wand selection. And when Marietta Edgecombe betrayed the DA to Professor Umbridge, Cho Chang understood enough to explain to Harry why she’d done it. It didn’t make things any better, of course, but Cho refused to condemn her friend without at least trying to see her point of view.
Again, this ability to tune into other people’s feelings was particularly true of Luna, who – while she might have been a bit blunt – was emotionally intelligent enough to know exactly when Harry wanted space, and when he could do with a word of comfort. In fact, she knew him so well she even saw through his Weasley cousin disguise at Bill and Fleur’s wedding. Now that is what we call paying attention.
This is what Professor Flitwick said to Harry when he was looking for Rowena Ravenclaw’s lost diadem, just as the Battle of Hogwarts was kicking off. Harry’s timing was as spectacular as ever, but like many Ravenclaws Flitwick couldn’t resist the chance to answer a question (which, incidentally, is clearly a trait Hermione shares – no wonder the Sorting Hat struggled to place her.)
Perhaps it’s this thirst for knowledge, above everything else, that makes Ravenclaw so very Ravenclaw. It’s not just that their students are clever, creative, intuitive. It’s that they really, genuinely, want to learn. And a ready mind is ready for anything, so perhaps it’s time to take a leaf out of a Ravenclaw’s book.