Hunger Games as a Literature Text?

Reference to this article from the Straits Times: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/education/story/teenage-us-bestseller-scores-school-text-20150222#2

yes, it is about my school, and how the Literature department (some of the finest Literature teachers around, mind you), decided to use The Hunger Games as the Literature text for the Secondary Two students this year.
Do I think it’s a good idea? Yes, I do.

The Hunger Games is overrated. It is. And it is very explicit in terms of describing the gory details of the games and such (this is also a good thing, I shall elaborate down below). And yes, most of the kids have already seen it in theatres, hindering their personal visualisation and thoughts about the book (/movie)
But it’s a good way to teach young ones how to separate the two (and acknowledging that the book is often better), but yes, I think it’s brilliant for use as a Literature text.

In today’s society, we are faced with violence every day. What’s a better way to deter aggressive behaviour than showing them what the aggressive behaviour can bring to the world? When peace was always another option? How mindless cruelty brings needless suffering to people? The book (though admittedly not perfect, but what is), shows you in clear words and visuals what kind of chaotic world we would live in if violence prevails; if justice is ignored. Some may roll their eyes at the book, dismissing it as a book about “the typical love triangle”, and I want to ask you: HAVE YOU READ THE BOOK???!?
It isn’t about the love triangle — Suzanne Collins did not spend her time writing the Hunger Games so the media (THE FILM AND THE ACTUAL REAL LIFE MEDIA COUGH COUGH) could exploit the love triangle like how the Capitol exploits Katniss and Peeta’s love (COUGH COUGH, REAL LIFE SITUATION AT HAND).
Using it as a Literature text will hence emphasize what Collins was trying to say in the first place – to bring this generation to acknowledge and recognise that there are problems in this world that haven’t been resolved, and not to let them float in what the media shows us.
The explicit detailing of fights is honestly good for a child to read, to show them how terrifying it is, how scared it makes you feel.  To let them know that any form of tormenting someone is cruel in the worst ways – so they know it is not right.  So they can feel it’s not right in their bones, so they know it isn’t bloody cool.  War and violence aren’t cool.  It’s horrifying.  It can also show them how the loss of someone you trust can pierce you and haunt you for life. It’s even better that it’s in a class setting, with a teacher to guide you to read it in the way that doesn’t promote violence, but condemns it heavily.

Our generation knows about the wars.  We know it was bad, we know about the Holocaust, the two World Wars, the anxiety levels of the Cold War, but we don’t understand it.  We know the figures, the horrors.  But we don’t feel it.  (I do hope we never will)  But at the same time we make jokes.  We play bloody war games like they’re nothing.  We revel in the victories in these games.

We don’t get that the victory isn’t really a victory – there are great losses involved.  The problem with video games is that you only know yourself.  Could you give a damn about the AIs that died?  NO BLOODY WAY.

(Selected) books and movies cover that loophole.  They show you that not everything is fine and dandy when you win.  And it never will be just fine and dandy ever again.

So if you tell me that the Hunger Games promotes violence, I will smack you with a thick hardcover version, and tell you to read it again, because it does anything but that.

And guess what?  Because they are in Secondary Two, they can focus on what the book says and understanding the text, rather than going “SPOT FOR O LEVELS PLS” and studying the book in isolated themes.  They have the luxury of time to understand the book and appreciate it in it’s entirety.  It was a brilliant move on the part of the Literature Department, in my opinion.

I shan’t go on, because if I did I might hit a thousand words, and no one wants to read that.

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Riley L.

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The Beauty of Polaroids

I am 100% in love with polaroids.  Yes, the fact that they are vintage does make me tick, but it’s also the meaning and the value behind the polaroid, and the films produced.

Think about it: holding the physical film right after the photo is taken. You’re holding the memories you just made. It’s so much more special than taking it on your DSLR or phone, and then you can’t hold it. You can see it, but it’s so different. You can physically touch the memory, so to speak. The immediacy of touching the photo makes the memory so much stronger, and so much more… real.
That’s why it’s so special. That’s what makes it so beautiful.

And it doesn’t matter if it’s a photo of nature or of humans. You can smell the place off the polaroid film, when your memory serves you well enough. You can remember the people you were with, the good feelings with those people you shared that moment with, the way they laughed and smiled when you were together. It is so important.

Sure, you can’t post it online, and when you do, it’s a photo of the photo. But that’s what makes it so special, and what sets it apart from digital images. It’s yours, it’s the only one. The original piece. It makes it so intimate. The memories only you can touch. The experiences only you can remember so well. The moment isn’t shared with everyone else. It’s a moment for the people in the photo. A moment that you were so in touch with nature you couldn’t leave it behind, and you had to take it with you.
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Riley L.

Reflecting in the face of new experiences.

To warm up the old rust bucket that is my writing, I’m going to write about my school. Let’s go!

Background info: I’ve been in Singapore Chinese Girls’ School (SCGS) for ten years, and I finished my O Levels, and am currently attending school in a Junior College (unnamed until I graduate and leave unashamed of my A Level grades)

OK, first of all, you must know that the number of friends I had in Primary school was countable on both hands. Maximum. So that sucked. I don’t want to elaborate, but I will say that it was my own detriments that made this happen. On the other hand, the teachers were dedicated and amazing, and wonderfully caring of all the students, despite having lives out of school. Those are the years of my life where nothing happened, apart from travelling extensively to Japan, Australia, and the United States of America, to name a couple. But hey the primary school library in SC is really good, and I spent long amounts of time in there picking out books to read with a couple of friends who like me, were… not… popular………………

NOW, on to the better part of my life: SECONDARY SCHOOL.
AMAZING. WOW. WOW. WOW. EXPLOSIVE ENERGY.
something happened to me, and I broke out of shyness in Secondary 2. (Secondary 1 was quite like Primary School)
but YES. I think I owed it to my class, firstly, because they were all welcoming and funny and they didn’t already know me (sort of) so I made a fresh start! secondly is the trip we took together to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for Service Learning (i.e. community work) which seriously brought us together as a class, and thus I was acquainted well with everyone, and I made several magnificent friends who are still my closest friends to this very day.
And that year also marked the beginning of good times in Drama (the wonderland that started my journey into the Arts).
yes, amazing, we faced adversity in the form of underfunding and struggling to adjust to the new system in which CCA was run, but we made it all work. We worked hard. I became friends with my seniors, my mates, my juniors, and all, and it made the experience in SC so much better than it would’ve been without each and every one of them. And wow, Secondary Two and Three was such an amazing experience in Drama. I learned so many things – I learned to what it meant to truly think out of the box, and to do things myself, to be independent, to be a leader, to be a better person, most importantly. It taught me to be a subversive via Art, without, of course, getting in any trouble whatsoever. And guess who became one of two Vice-Presidents in the year of 2013/2014? YEAH. ME.
While all this continual socialising (to the point where I knew almost everyone in my batch personally to a certain extent, be it by name or more), and ignition and driving of passion went on, my studies struggled terribly.
They were drowning in the deep ocean from Secondary 1 to 3. My fault. Truly, nothing to do with my teachers. My teachers genuinely tried to help me out, to reach out to me and help me with my studies. But I was disinterested, and I thought I had a billion years until O Levels came, and I thought that studies didn’t define you in the least – others will see the good in your heart. (I was wrong) (In this world, unfortunately, to leave school proper, studies define you to a large extent). I copied a load of homework (which is a horrible thing to do) in Secondary 1, but this stopped in Secondary 2 and 3, thank god. And I was unable to concentrate very well in class, or for that matter, score well at all despite listening in class in the later years. (I attribute that to not studying at home, and not revising content)
Allow me to give you a run-down of my failures and my eventual success:
1. Primary School: Never scored a “Band 1” for anything, up till P3, in Upper Primary, probably about 1 A per semester, maximum; tuition roughly three times a week, for Chinese, Mathematics, and English (because my Math tutor taught both Math and English, so why not)
2. PSLE Score: 220
3. Secondary 1: Scraping by.
4. Secondary 2: Scraping passes, highest score was probably a B3.
5. Secondary 3: Absolute trash. I took re-exams at the end of the year, just to promote myself to Secondary 4.
6. O Level Prelims: : L1R5? 30. L1R4? 17. Never would’ve made it anywhere. (No tears were shed)
7. GCE O Level Examination (real deal): L1R5? 9 (RAW), 7 (nett)

NOW HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?????!?!?!?!?!??!
After my re-examinations at the end of my Sec 3 year, I was struck with terror to my very core. But people DO NOT change overnight. In fact, I barely studied for re-exams, because for some reason I thought I would be okay. What did I do? I sat in the front of all my classes, I believed I could do it, I did all my homework independently and punctually, I did my work properly, I listened to my teachers, heeded all their advice, learned how things worked and why they worked that way, and why I wasn’t scoring well. I ASKED QUESTIONS. I STUDIED.
For some reason, even though my class work had improved vastly (E.g. in Sec 3, my Additional Mathematics test would score around 5/35; no joke, and in Sec 4, it went up to an average of 20-23/30, and one time, 29/30) my Prelims were terrible.
I have my school and my teachers to give all thanks to. They organised study camp. Did we study 24/7 in study camp? Obviously not. In fact, only about 1/3 of the time there is spent studying before prelims, after prelims, it goes up to 2/3 of the time. BUT it does keep your mind going, with friends’ company to help you out when you’re stuck with your work, or to catch Starbucks, MacDonalds, or play Frisbee/ Badminton/ Soccer, or take a walk around the school you’ve stepped in for 10 years. I digress. Teachers stay back FOR YOU because they genuinely want to help you.  They teach you until you get it. If I had a question, I’d ask it. If it was out of syllabus, I’d ask it. If it was the DUMBEST, MOST OBVIOUS, PRIMARY SCHOOL WORK TYPE QUESTION, I’d ask, just to clear things up for myself. This was AFTER prelims. Before prelims, the teachers were really open anyway, but did I take it seriously? No, not really.
AND YEAH. ASKING QUESTIONS was vital to my process of going from 30 to 9 in a couple of short months, though the run was very long.

Anything can happen, as long as you work for it. Things may not go your way initially, but if you have faith in yourself, your abilities, and if you’re willing to ask questions to become wiser, if you’re willing to admit you don’t know something, you’ll be a much better learner.

It’s not only doing well that is important, but understanding why you learn something, and actually LEARNING that something is far more important than memorising facts you don’t know how to apply in real life.