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This article is written from a real world point of view and so is not considered part of The Worst Witch universe.

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Learning the Hard Way is episode 5 of the third season of The Worst Witch. It was Preceded by The Witchy Hour, and followed by The Hair Witch Project.

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Plot

It's potions class and Drusilla drinks a potion and turns into a tree. Ethel points out that the dangers of turning into a tree include getting chopped down, woodpeckers, etc... Miss Hardbroom asks how they would be able to tell which tree Drusilla was if they were in a forest. Mildred says she'd be the one that dropped a branch on them. Miss Hardbroom doesn't think that's funny, and makes Mildred drink her tree-turning-into potion next. Mildred turns into something "prickly and annoying". Miss Hardbroom tells the class that they're getting a student teacher from Weirdsister College named Miss Gabrielle Gribble.

Not too long later, the staff discuss the new student teacher, and Miss Cackle says that Gabrielle's last assignment didn't go too well, and that, as a favor to the college, they're letting her have another go at Cackle's. Miss Crotchet gracefully moves so that Miss Gribble can have the broken chair.

Miss Gribble arrives, and everyone but Miss Hardbroom leaves (because the bell rings). Miss Gribble's late because of the up draft outside the castle - she had to get off her broom and walk. Miss Hardbroom says all sorts of nasty things about the third years; how they don't respond to kindness, and so on. Then she gets to Mildred Hubble...

The third years are making a special effort to be nice to Miss Gribble, so they get out all of their equipment ahead of time and cheer for her when she comes in. But, as she's a very nervous and jittery woman, it causes her to drop everything she's carrying. She gets really, really angry (following Miss Harbroom's advice) and mistakes Enid for Mildred due to the plait and undone bootlaces. She hollers and screams some more, and tells everyone to be quiet and put their hands on their heads. Then she starts asking questions and gets angry when no one answers her. Then she tells them to be quiet when they do answer. It goes on like that for a while until everybody's in detention.

The third years go to detention, and Enid does an impression of Miss Cackle. They decide that from now on it's all out war on Gribble. Miss Gribble goes to the staff room and tries to have some coffee, but people keep taking mugs from her (Miss Hardbroom doesn't even put anything in hers, she just takes the mug and leaves). Miss Drill complains about having to supervise the third year detention. Miss Crotchet complains about not being able to control them in chanting class.

Miss Gribble goes to class and tries to be friendly, but it's too late. They drew a nasty picture of her on the board. While she's trying to erase it, Ethel sticks a sign to her back saying Dribble, and then everyone starts coughing until she tells them to stop. She mistakes Mildred for Enid and sends her to Miss Cackle's office "Don't play that name switching game with me!" Then the real Enid starts coughing, and everyone says how she needs a potion out of the desk drawer. Enid turns blue, Gribble opens the drawer and there's some sort of swamp mist thing in it. She can't get it to go away, and green mist starts filling up the classroom. Miss Hardboom arrives to find the class in total chaos, and sets everything to rights.

Miss Gribble goes crying (literally) to Miss Cackle. "Oh, auntie!" which only earns her a reply of "Don't say that word!". Miss Drill and Miss Crotchet show up, and give her all sorts of helpful advice about doing magic outdoors and bonding over it.

So, Miss Gribble takes the class outdoors. After a talk with Miss Cackle, Mildred's getting a soft spot for the poor teacher "I thought you of all people would know what it's like... to try something for the first time (and have difficulty)". Miss Gribble hands the class a bottle of the tree-turning potion and says to pretend that she's a wicked witch and that they have to hide from her. Then she covers her eyes and counts. When she opens her eyes, she's very pleased to see that she can't tell who's a tree and who isn't. But there's a storm coming, and she starts to get a little agitated when nobody is turning back. Then she finds the empty potion bottle (you're only supposed to drink a very little bit).

Meanwhile, Miss Drill is trying to blame Miss Crotchet for sending Miss Gribble and her class outdoors. Miss Gribble comes in (crying again) "Oh, auntie!" she explains that the students are surely going to get struck by lightening and die, while Miss Cackle makes a face of appropriate distaste. Miss Hardbroom then explains that she already found all the third years hiding under their desks and saying that Gribble was a wicked witch.

Miss Hardbroom and Miss Cackle leave and go to Miss Cackle's office. Miss Cackle explains that the reason miss Gribble's first assignment didn't go too well was that she changed Miss Pentangle into a tadpole. So, being that Miss Gribble was her niece, she complied with the college's request to giver her a second chance "after having suggested it to them in the first place." Be that as it may, Miss Hardbroom still has to see if the third years have learned anything, and if they haven't Gabrielle will fail.

Mildred doesn't feel hungry and she leaves the dining hall and finds Gribble sulking on the stairs. They have a chat about what it's like to be a teacher, and Mildred and Maud suggest that they use detention to learn a whole bunch of potions for Miss Hardbroom's test the next day.

They practice late into the night, turning into stones and so on and so forth. Then, they decide that in case Miss Hardbroom asks Mildred to do something (and they're all sure she will) Mildred should know how to do something really good. "Oh, no, not that!" says Mildred with a fearful look on her face...

The next morning, Miss Hardbroom starts conducting the test. She asks Ethel and Drusilla what they're doing, and they're doing the changing into rocks thing... only they change into fish. Miss Hardbroom says that there's no point in asking anyone else, but almost everyone raises their hand to volunteer. Of course, the one person who doesn't raise her hand, Mildred, is the next one Miss Hardbroom picks. Mildred says she's doing a thing where she changes into ice crystals. Miss Hardbroom says that anyone who could teach Mildred that would be the best potions teacher in the world.

Mildred insists that she's going to do it, and Miss Hardbroom says some more discouraging things about how she'll turn Mildred back when it goes wrong, and Miss Cackle says the usual "do your best, dear," thing.

Mildred turns into a sparkly crystal. "What did you say, Miss Hardbroom, the best potions teacher in the world?"

So Miss Gribble passes, and there's an assembly to say goodbye to her. They give her a chair, and the third years give her a mug.

Quotes

HB: "The third years do not respond to kindness so there is no point in showing them any!"

HB: "MILDRED HUBBLE! TRUST YOU TO TURN INTO SOMETHING PRICKLY AND ANNOYING!"

HB: "They told me you were a wicked witch and they were hiding from you..."- to Miss Gribble

Miss Cackle: “anything’s possible, Miss Hardbroom.”
HB: “except the impossible, Miss Cackle.”

Miss Cackle: “crystal ice magic..!”
HB “Mildred, if any one ever manages to get that into your muddled head, they’ll be the best potions teacher on the planet.”
(Mildred successfully turns herself into crystal ice)
Miss Cackle: “what was that, Miss Hardbroom, the best potions teacher on the planet?”

Gallery


The Worst Witch TV Series
Season 1

1-1 1-2 1-3 1-4 1-5 1-6 1-7 1-8 1-9 1-10 1-11 1-12 1-13

Season 2 2-1 2-2 2-3 2-4 2-5 2-6 2-7 2-8 2-9 2-10 2-11 2-12 2-13

Season 3 3-1 3-2 3-3 3-4 3-5 3-6 3-7 3-8 3-9 3-10 3-11 3-12 3-13 3-14

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