Thursday, January 26, 2012

Romulus, Romulus

When I lived in Croatia, I had the opportunity to visit much of Italy, including Rome.  Some students were asking about the Colosseum.  So, I thought I'd post some pictures from when I was there.  Unfortunately, when I was at the Colosseum, I was there by myself, so the pictures are of the stadium itself - without me in it.  So, I threw on this last one to prove I was there.  ...Because I know you care.

A couple lines from today's reading:

"...The arenas are historic sites, preserved after the Games.  Popular destinations for Capitol residents to visit, to vacation.  Go for a month, rewatch the games, tour the catacombs, visit the sites where the deaths took place.  You can even take place in reenactments.
          They say the food is excellent." (p. 145)

Wow.  Geez, Suzanne Collins what are you trying to say?  A little bit of spoiling context here, (my students have all read this far - parents, I encourage you to read it if you haven't already... don't want to ruin anything for you): Our protagonist, Katniss has just arrived at the arena where she's going to have to combat 23 other children in a fight to the death.  Yowzer.

When we got to this part, I stopped for a moment and discussed the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta:

picture of park 
(Thanks: Destination360)

I mentioned how the '96 Olympic games were held there, and that a lot of tourists visit the park today.

But visiting the arena in The Hunger Games is different - and Katniss's mocking tone lets us know that she does not approve - because people are going to be dehumanizing her, and giddily embracing her death - which is disgusting...  So, it's not that kind of park at all...

Then I talked about Gettysburg:

Gettysburg Today
(Thanks again Destination360)

Maybe it's more like this.  Thousands of people died at Gettysburg.  More Americans died in the Civil War than in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam combined...  (Check it out...)  There are Gettysburg reenactments, and people (myself included) go to the battlefield during vacations and such.  That's still not the same as reveling in the glory of a Hunger Games Arena.  It's still not the same.  Who can imagine what would have happened if Lee got into the North?  We would be living in a much different world.  It's not the same.

So, I brought up the Colosseum.  (Those pictures are at the top... I'm not adding more...)  : )  People were killed in there, fought to the death, and it's still a tourist destination.  The killings were for sport - unlike Gettysburg.  The crowd was there to watch it all.  But, today when people visit, we're visiting another historical place - so although the comparison here works out if we were living in Ancient Rome, it stops once we get to Rome's collapse.

But we still go, and we're enthralled by what went on at both Gettysburg and Rome.  More than that, I asked how many of the kids played violent video games.  The number of hands would not surprise you.  And I made sure to point out that I wasn't pointing fingers - that I've lost my share of Halo tournaments... (I've never, not once won...)  And how many of us enjoyed playing them?  A lot.  All of the hands.

I'm just here asking questions, trying to get the students to make connections between Social Studies, Language Arts, and their own lives.  I'm in no way criticizing.  But it makes me wonder about my own life as well.  It's easy in the story to look at the lives of the citizens of the Capitol and see how repulsive it is that they embrace The Hunger Games.  It's easy to tell that THEY are the bad guys.  But seriously, what does that say about us?

In order to get the extra credit for today's blog, students have to read and discuss it with an adult.  If they do that, they should turn in a scrap piece of paper with the following phrase on it: "Remus, I think you need a better rock."

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