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.