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Our most recent assignment for our Methods and Materials for Social Studies course was to complete a book review in order to determine how to use the concepts in the book to address NCSS standards. I immediately knew I wanted to focus on the Hunger Games. Needless to say for anyone who has read it, I quickly became OBSESSED with this book. The book is fundamentally an example of one of the most central ideas in social studies, which is that it should be taught while utilizing multiple perspectives on events. I’m proud of my examples, if you’re interested in what you can cull from the Hunger Games to use in your own classroom. I’ll also be writing a full lesson plan on the book later in the semester, so stay tuned!
NCSS STANDARD 1: CULTURE
-Evaluate how data and experiences may be interpreted differently by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference.
-Describe and give examples of the value of both cultural unity and diversity, within and across groups.
-Write a paper presenting the analysis of a current or past conflict or example of cooperation between two or more cultural groups, identifying the relevant cultural beliefs and behaviors of the groups involved, the differences and similarities of those beliefs and behaviors, and the ways in which these contribute to the example of conflict or cooperation.
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The book does an excellent job at tackling the concept that people perceive cultural events from different perspectives. As Katniss competes in the Hunger Games, she is constantly aware of the various audience members who are watching her behavior and how they will interpret it. She knows that the audience in the Capitol want the games to be as exciting and violent as possible, whereas the family members of the tributes are watching the games while full of fear for the lives of those they love. She also takes into consideration the opinions of those who will sponsor her throughout the game along with how the government in charge of the games will view her choices.
The idea of cultural unity within and across groups is brought up twice in the book. The first time is when Katniss takes the place of her sister at the Reaping. The choice she makes unifies her entire community and their subsequent actions, including a funeral salute and the choice not to applaud, which reflect this. The unity across groups is shown after Katniss sings to Rue and decorates her body with flowers. The people of Rue’s district are so moved by this that they send bread to Katniss in the arena, an action that is both costly and symbolic of how connected they all feel to Katniss.
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Finally, culture could easily be addressed in the cooperation of Katniss and Rue in the arena, despite the cultural differences of their respective districts. Katniss and Rue both bring different skill sets to the arena based on where they are from and the experiences they’ve had. Katniss makes reference several times to all the useful survival traits that Rue has brought with her to the arena and how they reflect her different cultural upbringing.
X. Civic Ideals and Practices
-Concepts and ideals such as: individual dignity, liberty, justice, equality, individual rights, responsibility, majority and minority rights, and civil dissent.
Small examples of civil dissent are marked throughout the book, including the actions of the 12th district when Katniss takes her sister’s place. Throughout the book, it becomes clear that Peeta has been operating to protect Katniss throughout the entire game. His choice to do this is based on what he perceives to be his individual right and responsibility to her, regardless of the rules of the Hunger Games. Peeta also makes reference to planning on maintaining his sense of self throughout the games and not letting the Capitol take it away from him. Katniss mirrors these concepts in many of her decisions while working together with Rue. The final choice that Katniss and Peeta make in the arena with the berries is ultimately representative of their civil dissent.
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