Welcome to Herbology 101

My name is Matthew Aspen, or Professor Aspen for short, and I am glad to give you all a very warm welcome to this course. My PAs and myself expect great things from you, so we are eager to see you all "grow" in the greenhouses. However, we would like you to read the following information about the course before enrolling in it:

1-Whenever you submit an assignment, it goes to our queue. We usually grade them quickly, but sometimes this is not possible due to many factors. That is why we would like you to be patient and rest assure that your assignments will be graded shortly.

2-The Herbology Team is more than happy to receive your questions about the course. Please do so in a formal and respectful manner, and your queries will be answered quickly.

3-Even though we are professionals and enjoy what we do, we are also prone to make mistakes. If you believe that an assignment has not been fairly graded, please send Professor Aspen an owl as soon as possible, outlining your reasons why you believe so, together with the ID number of your assignment. Remember that appeals are evaluated and they can have positive or negative replies, meaning that your grade might change for good or for bad. Bear this in mind when you contact me about such topic.

4-All assignments can be retaken if you get less than 70% in them.

5-All assignments for HERB101 now have a short sentence in colour to indicate if the assignment can be resubmitted or not.

Lesson 1) Welcome to Herbology

Year One, Lesson One
Fundamentals of Flora: “Groundwork”

Welcome to Herbology 101! I hope you’re all as excited to learn about plants as I am to share my knowledge of and passion for them with a fresh crop of students. While I want to dive right in and get our hands dirty, this introductory lesson needs to cover a  few important topics first. As you may have guessed, this year is about laying the “groundwork” -- please pardon the pun, though you will need to get used to that habit of mine -- for your herbological education. In this lesson, we will be discussing just what herbology is, some of the expectations of this course, and some formal, administrative information we need to get out of the way. We will start looking at plants in earnest in Lesson Five.

Now, just because we’re not tackling Fanged Geraniums on our first day, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Let it be noted that this course is not for the squeamish or faint of heart! Plants can be dangerous little things! While they are not creatures like the mighty dragon, nor beings like the impressive vampire, plants can be just as complex and difficult to deal with. Over the next few years, you will find that there are many parallels between plant behavior and animal behavior. Some even display quirks that a human might have! For these reasons, and for many others, you will be expected to treat all plants with the care and respect they deserve.

Course Information
I am Professor Aspen, and I hope that we will get to know each other very well over the next seven years. I am passionate about herbology, so if you have questions on the material -- either because you don’t understand, or are curious and want more information  -- I am available for questions or concerns. In the meantime, I look forward to grading your assignments, getting to know you, and running into you around the castle.

Before we go any further, I should tell you that HiH has been created in the hopes that magical students around the world will be able to get a magical education in a way that is accessible and self-paced. Too many magical students, particularly Muggle-borns were not able to receive their letters during Voldemort’s rise to power and, embarrassingly, slipped through the cracks! Additionally nowadays, many witches and wizards are choosing not to skimp on their Muggle education and attempt to attend both schools side by side.

As I mentioned, courses are self-paced in the hopes of making them more accessible for everyone. This means there are no due dates. You can space out the nine lessons in each course over an entire calendar year, or attempt them all in one, highly-motivated week! However, I do have to recommend you stop to sleep, at least. After reading the lesson, taking notes, and asking questions to make sure you understand everything, dive right into those assignments, which are attached to each lesson. At the end of each year will be a final exam, and at the end of your Fifth and Seventh Years, there will be intensive cumulative examinations to test your knowledge... but let’s not worry about them now and put the cart before the Thestral!  

Speaking of assignments, all homework, essays, quizzes, and the like are graded either by myself or attended to by our lovely PA team. A “PA” is also known as a “professor’s assistant”. We have quite a few grading for our course, and you can find a list of them in the tab next to your assignments. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send one of them an owl! Though, of course, you can always contact me as well. I do love to hear from students.

Additionally, there are no textbooks for this course, and all information used to complete your assignments should come from the lessons only.

Lastly, one policy I would like to make you aware of is the fact that all students are permitted to have their own plot in the public greenhouses. It is located under Groups and Clubs, is called “The Greenhouse,” and can be found here.  It is by no means mandatory, but you are welcome to stop by and grow some plants in your free time, if desired. You may grow whatever you would like from your year’s shelf, which will contain cuttings, seeds, and bulbs that we will discuss throughout the year. They are clearly labelled, so be sure not to go above your year without express permission from me. Of course, I would highly recommend you wait to grow a plant until we have gone over it in class, or after you have done research in the library and asked any lingering questions regarding their care. As long as you do not abuse this privilege, this opportunity will be open to you for as long as you continue your herbological education!

Grading Information
There are just a few other pieces of business and administration to get out of the way! First of all, we should talk about how your grades will be calculated. There will be an assortment of assignments in this class: from quizzes, to essays, to exams. Each essay will have a rubric that specifically states what requirements you will need to fulfill. As a general advisory, be sure not to include any identifying marks, such as your name or house, etcetera, unless otherwise noted in the assignment. We keep things strictly anonymous to make sure everything is fairly graded!  However, as a word of warning, be sure not to plagiarize, either by using someone else’s work, by copying and pasting from the Herbology lessons, or copying from a student-written library book, as any assignments found to be plagiarized will immediately receive a 1% and you will not be able to retake that assignment. 

Your assignments will be marked for both content and language. If you have any concerns about this because you are either not a native speaker of English (NES) or have a learning disability (LD), please put the label NES or LD on top of your essay. My PAs and I will then know not to deduct points for language mistakes while still keeping the queue anonymous. You may use a translation app to help you translate your assignment into English. As those tend to complicate our grading process, only assignments submitted in English will be graded.  In addition, students who have a learning disability (LD) will receive a 10% leeway on word count.

Lastly, in case you aren’t sure about the grading scale here at Hogwarts, we will take a brief moment to look at it. Grades range from “Outstanding” at the highest, to “Troll” at the lowest. Below is a complete chart for you to review at your leisure. If you have an issue with a mark you’ve received, you can discuss it with me via owl. 

Grading Scale
Outstanding – 90-100%
Exceeds Expectations – 80-89%
Acceptable – 70-79%
Poor – 60-69%
Dreadful – 50-59%
Troll – 0-49%

What is Herbology?
Finally, we can get to the good stuff -- though, I may be a bit biased -- herbology! Below is a peek at what we will be studying this year.

Year One Syllabus

Now, what is herbology? Herbology is the study, along with the use, of magical and non-magical plants. Yes, we will be studying both! You may find this odd, but as we will discuss in later lessons, just because something is not magical does not mean it is useless! These plants we study may be for medicinal, protective, educational, or purely decorative purposes. Each herb, fungi, tree, and flower whether magical or "mundane" has unique quirks and gifts, rather like each and every one of you. By mundane, I am of course referring to non-magical plants, however, due to the negative connotation of this term and because it often inaccurately implies the plants lack uses and abilities, you will need to use the term “non-magical” in this class. For example, despite being non-magical, oleander -- a very common and equally poisonous garden plant -- will kill you just as surely as a Venomous Tentacula if you are not careful. However, there is no need for alarm. As long as you develop a healthy respect for all plants, you will be far less likely to run into this problem!

Of course, this outlook on the importance of non-magical plants occasionally causes herbologists a bit of trouble, resulting in negative opinions of our field or thoughtless nicknames that demean the important work we do. But I’m getting a bit caught up in my own ramblings again. For the meantime, remember that you are not just a simple gardener here in this class. A herbologist is any witch or wizard who understands the properties and nature of plants, particularly one who uses their knowledge not only to grow said plants, but to enrich the world around them in a multitude of ways.

There are ways wizardkind can benefit from the knowledge and study of plants on both a personal as well as a societal level. For example, it is useful to be able to tell the difference between elder and holly wood when assessing the aptness of your opponent for certain spells during a duel. As a healer, confusing a lesser celandine and a marsh marigold could put your patient into a very deep sleep rather than curing their constipation. Potioneers and healers alike need to be able to recognize the differences between plants and be aware of any toxicity hazards that may need to be mitigated. Don’t even get me started on the benefits that magical and non-magical plants offer to the world in terms of providing potion ingredients to cure illnesses, keeping ecosystems in check, and providing nourishment. Needless to say, without proper knowledge of herbology this world would be a far less enjoyable place to live!

Of course, I am bound to have an over inflated opinion of my own course, but let me assure you, Herbology is no soft option! There is much to be explored, and plenty of challenges that await you in the greenhouses, but that will all have to wait for another week!

That ends your first lesson. Before you go, pick up a copy of the outline for the year so you can plan for what is ahead. There will be an optional introductory essay and a short quiz for homework. Have a great week and I will see you again soon.

Original lesson written by Professor Lily Tudor
Additional portions written by Professor Venita Wessex
Image credits here and here

In the First Year of Herbology, you will be introduced to the basics of the discipline, including the kinds of plants, how to classify them, the difference between a magical and non-magical plant, and how to care for both kinds of flora. Additionally, First Year Herbology students will learn about a selection of easy-to-care-for plants.
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