Exploring Culture and Geography Through "The Hunger Games"

In World Cultures & Geography class, Whitfield seventh graders examine the unique aspects of Middle Eastern, Asian, African, and Pacific cultures using primary and secondary sources, fiction and nonfiction, hands-on activities, cartography, and simulations. The focus of the class is to strengthen essential skills including reading, writing, research, and discussion with an emphasis on the geographical and political aspects of specific world regions. 

Currently, students are exploring the importance of culture and geography and how they affect people and their choices, through the lens of their summer reading text, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. As students learn about the seven elements of culture (social organization, customs and traditions, language, arts and literature, religion, government, and economic systems), in order to understand them more fully, they are identifying examples—in both the United States and in the world of The Hunger Games. As an example, students made maps of Panem, the future world in which the story takes place. This week, they are watching the film adaptation in class and will analyze the film’s depiction of characters, settings and scenes, differences between the book and the film, and write a reflection. Finally, students will formulate their own questions for a Socratic Seminar discussion and author journals, analyzing and comparing the culture of the world of the novel to their own world. 

The Hunger Games is a perfect introduction to learning about culture and geography, our main focus this year in seventh grade social studies,” said faculty member Mary Schnitzler. “It does not glorify violence but shows, through the main character's eyes, the horror of living in a totalitarian state where fear rules. The theme of the book and the film is rebellion against a totalitarian regime--basically, what one person can do to make change. This is one of our themes for the year. My hope is that students will come to understand that their voices are important, even as 12 and 13 year olds, and that they can make a difference.”