Thursday, October 31, 2013
Ender's Game Discussion Questions
by Laura Cook and Lydia Netzer
Why do you think the “why” of what Ender had to say was important? How does that factor into his ability to save the world later in the story? What was it about Ender that made him a better match for his later responsibilities than Peter or Valentine might have been?
2. Quote: “He walked the short bridge to the door in the shuttle. He noticed that the wall to his right was carpeted like a floor. That was where the disorientation began. The moment he thought of the wall as the floor, he began to feel like he was walking on a wall. He got up to the ladder and noticed that the vertical surface behind it was also carpeted. I am climbing up the floor.”
Ender sees his surroundings differently than the other students in his class, and this helps him to be especially suited to the task that lies ahead of him. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you saw things differently than everyone else and it worked in your favor?
3. Quote: "I’ll put it bluntly. Human beings are free except when humanity needs them. Maybe humanity needs you. To do something. Maybe humanity needs me—to find out what you’re good for. We might both do despicable things, Ender, but if humankind survives, then we’re good tools.”
Do you think it is OK to do things that are destructive if you perceive the overall endpoint to be positive?
4. Quote: “He can have friends. It’s parents he can’t have.”
Why do you think it would have negatively impacted Ender’s capabilities as a commander if he had had a strong “parent” figure?
5. Quote: “Human being didn’t evolve to lie around on lakes. Killing’s the first thing we learned. And it’s a good thing we did.”
Is killing a necessary part of human existence? Why do we simultaneously believe murder is the worst crime you can commit and also that killing is essential to our survival?
6. Quote: “Thank you for this, Peter. For dry eyes and silent weeping. You taught me how to hide anything I felt.”
Can you think of a time when someone hurt you, but it taught you something you were thankful for later?
Explain what is meant by hot vs. cold anger? Can you think of a time when you were paralyzed by anger (hot anger)? Can you think of a time when you used your anger as fuel to allow you to make positive changes (cold anger)?
8. Mazer Rackham gave up living a normal life so that he could artificially stay alive in order to train Ender. Do you think this was a noble sacrifice? Would you have done the same? Do you think it was a hard choice for him?
9. Are you a builder or a destroyer? Do you think there are only two types of people in the world? What other types would you add to that paradigm?
10. The adults decide it is okay to risk Ender's life and sanity to save Earth. Do you think that you would give your own life, or risk the life of someone you love to save humanity in its current state today?
11. Quote: “Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.”
Valentine changes as she sinks more deeply into her role as Demosthenes. Do you think that you become a bit of everything you pretend to be? If you think this is true, do you think that you can aim to be something you are not and become that someone/something by acting the part for long enough?
12. Do you sympathize with Ender when he just wants to keep on swimming in the lake? Why do you think he felt that way. Do you ever feel that way? What breaks you out of that mood and into action?
13. Were the adults right to lie to the children about what they were actually doing in the "simulation"? Do you think it would have changed the outcome if they had known that they were fighting a real war?
14. This book was written before internet usage was thought of as being useful outside of a university setting. What do you think about Orson Scott Card’s idea of communicating through a network of computers? Do you think science fiction writers sometimes contribute ideas to future scientists and technologists? Did the internet turn out as he envisioned it? Are there international networks where people hold serious debates and change minds with strong ideas?
15. If you were Ender, do you think you would be satisfied having been useful and having helped humanity, even though you had to make enormous personal sacrifices to achieve that (leaving your family, not having a normal childhood, not being able to return to Earth?)
16. How would the book have been different if it had ended before Ender discovered the bugger queen and connected with her mind?
17. When you are reading the book, and you are being told that Ender is still "in training" and that the battle is still to come, and yet you know that you only have a few pages left before the end, does that change the way you interpret what's happening? Since you knew you were near the conclusion, did you suspect at all that the battle was happening already?
18. With whom do you identify more -- Peter, Valentine, or Ender? Are there any aspects of the two children you least identify with that you can connect with and understand?
19. Ender was a third child, which was rare in the fictional setting in which he was born. Do you think his unique birth order contributed to his understanding of different personalities and his leadership capabilities? Do you think being one of three, rather than an only child or a second child made it easier for him to learn to adapt to the social setting at Battle School?
20. What do you make of the rules regarding having children in the world of the book? Do you think it's fair to limit people's reproduction, or give special favors and permissions based on intelligence or other genetic qualities?
Thursday, August 16, 2012
I'm SO looking forward to reading and writing with your children. The material we're going to be working on is stuff that I devoured obsessively when I was in middle school -- my goal is that at least a few of the kids in this class will get bit hard by the sci-fi bug and become scifi geek nerd dork fans like I am! Science fiction is a great "gateway" for young students to begin talking about adult literature, as the themes and ideas are so overt and accessible, and there's plenty of action and adventure as well as characters to remember.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
|First Night Jam Session|
I met Scott Walker and his brother Landon at a Suzuki Workshop where he was teaching cello master classes and fiddle group classes. His immediate connection with both my kids impressed me -- his gleefulness, his sense of fun, and his ability to work with Benny immediately and effectively, and charm the socks off Sadie -- I was impressed. During the faculty concert, Scott and Landon played a song together that is without a doubt one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've heard played on the cello. When I found that Scott had written the song, I knew that I had to get my kids more time with these people, so I began to look into their summer camp.
We've been a Suzuki family since Benny was 3. When Sadie was born she began attending his lessons in the baby sling, and by the age of two she had a foam-a-lin under her chin. The best thing about Suzuki, for us, has been the teachers: their willingness to accept children as individuals, their patience and faith in their method, and their positive, forward energy. But after 8 years of toil along the Suzuki path to enlightenment (and Benny's path has not been without thorns and potholes) I felt like we needed to step outside the program, and try something new.
|Advanced Fiddle Class|
The camp is held at the Blowing Rock Conference Center, which is a resort way up on a hill at the end of a road. It's on a lovely green campus with lots of room for the kids to roam around, and there's nothing else out there. They eat in the cafeteria, they play outside on the grounds, all the classes are in one of the main or adjoining buildings, you sleep in your room in the main building, and everything you need is right there. There's no need to use your car for the whole week if you don't want to.
When I arrived I was concerned my kids would find friends, would be able to get to their classes, would be able to adjust to all the new people, etc. Let me tell you. On the first day, my little 7 year old got herself to her first class, and made a friend by the end of her second class. By the end of the day Benny had his own room key and was getting himself around the campus like a pro. He was telling *me* where stuff was located. They got themselves to their meals, got themselves to their classes -- the self-sufficiency of all the kids at the camp was amazing. I had so much time to chill out that this time *I* am going to take classes!
The culture of the camp is obviously very music positive, but it shows up not just in the activities and the official mission, but in all of the people too. There's a gang of teenagers -- they're all walking around with instruments in their hands, and when they clump up, they're playing fiddle tunes. To "be cool" you better be able to play Devil's Dream real fast -- these are the teenagers I want my kids exposed to! There was such an inclusive, warm, family feel to the whole thing -- moms helping other moms' kids all over the place. It reminded me a lot of our homeschooling community at home, and unsurprisingly a lot of the kids are homeschooled.
There's a pool:
|Silly girls playing in the pool during an off hour.|
|Phoebe and Sadie wrote to each other throughout the year.|
|A trio that formed for the talent show: Flute, violin, and cello.|
|During the talent show performance.|
|Robbie Wells, Landon Walker, Scott Manring, and Sadie.|
Monday, January 16, 2012
Sadie got to play along for two songs. The first was Minuet 2 from Suzuki Book 1:
Then Lully Gavotte from Suzuki Book 2:
Benny and his buddy Stephen share a stand in their youth orchestra, and also share a cello teacher. Here are the "Bad Boys of Cello" with their teacher, performing Minuet in G by Beethoven as a trio:
"The Prayer" in ensemble, a song made popular by Celine Dion:
And finally, "Hot Canary," a crazy-to-play but super fun violin lark:
A great way for the kids and me to spend a Sunday. :)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
This spring, we're singing American tunes like "Beautiful Dreamer," "Skip to My Lou," "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," "Cotton Eyed Joe," and "Shady Grove." Our songbook can be purchased as a coil-bound notebook from Lulu.com for $10 or you can download and print your own for free from our Yahoo Group files section. If you order the official songbook, the cost of the class is $60 for all 15 weeks. Without the songbook, the cost is $80 for the semester. We meet for an hour every Tuesday morning near the Chrysler Museum in downtown Norfolk. Won't you join the fun?
Friday, April 01, 2011
Esteemed Lady Knight,
You are welcomed into our number. The Order of the Hatchet is now your home. You will recognize other members by the hatchet incorporated into their heraldry, or by the phrase, “Dagnabbit, I wish I had a hatchet right now.” Your rank is Amaranth. In order to achieve the next rank, Campion, you must bring another girl warrior into the Order. Train her, test her, and when you believe in her, encourage her to contact us. Fight with honor, keep your secrets close, and if you have need of aid, call on your sisterhood before all others.
Your sister in arms,
Selene, Gentian, Order of the Hatchet
My Dear Daughter,
I hope this letter finds you well. It is my opinion that you should share your secret with the world as soon as possible. I know it would do my heart good to be able to communicate with you openly rather than using your sister as translator for your impossible ciphers. Thank you for the money. I have hired your mother a servant to do the dishes and the laundry for a year. This will really help! Speaking of sisters, I am sending you one. This little rogue, Esme, is trying your mother’s patience in the extreme. She will not work, she will not learn to read, she will not listen, and she claims to have fallen in love with one of the local smiths. She is nineteen years old. Do what you can with her.
Your loving parent,
It is with regret that we recognize your allegiance to the southern usurper. Without the mandate of the legates of Britain, he will never be other than a usurper to the Kings of Gorre, whatever sword he waves around to enchant our brethren in Malahaut. Perchance we will see you on the battlefield someday. Maybe that day will come sooner than you think. Say hello to King Lot if you see him. He may be your last hope to align yourself on the right side of the coming conflict.
Knights of the Order of the Golden Apple
I am disappointed but not surprised that you have not embraced the privilege to join our great Northern alliance and the Order of the Golden Apple. I trust your intelligence that you can keep yourself safe. Thank you for returning the sword – it pains me to know that in future it might have torn heads from the shoulders of my friends and allies, your uncles of the North. I’m glad your attention, for now, is on the Saxons. Beware King Lot. I rejoice that you are ready to wed and provide me grandchildren. Your mother says to tell you not to have your head turned by a pretty face. You and I know that is more difficult in practice than in theory. I was not able to find any women of suitable rank here that were willing to go so far from home and oppose their fathers’ wishes. Please keep me informed of all you do – even if my liege is someday your liege’s enemy, I remain your father, and you my son.
It is with honor I salute you as a Knight of the Lions of Logres. You will find many friends among the knights of King Uther. Should you be in doubt of a fellow knight’s allegiance, you may test them in the following way: If you say “the means becomes the end” and they answer “the spirit takes precedence over the letter of the law” then they are indeed a Lion of Logres. If they answer otherwise, and you so desire, feel free to decapitate them. Your rank is currently initiate. In order to advance to a novice rank, you must acquire a lion skin and craft it (or have it crafted) into a cape with a hood, to wear to our rituals. Here’s the catch: the lion must be a male, must be over a year old, and cannot have been killed by you. Welcome to the order! May we support King Uther on the throne into eternity.
Your Comrade in Arms,
Paeter, Captain of the Lions of Logres
I am so proud that you have become a knight! We miss you every year at Winter Solstice. I remember, since you were a wee lad, how you used to chant the ritual. Do you remember? If you are married, your mother wishes to know that you will teach our pagan rituals to your children, especially the winter solstice chant. Now don’t go marrying a Christian girl and forgetting your druid ways!
By the flame that burneth bright, O' Horned One!
We call they name into the night, O' Ancient One!
Thee we invoke, by the moon-led sea,
By the standing stone and the twisted tree.
Thee we invoke where gather thine own,
By the nameless shrine forgotten and lone.
Come where the round of the dance is trod,
Horn and hoof of the goatfoot God!
In fiery flame by starlight pale,
In shadowy host that rides the gale,
To the heart-beats drum! Come to us who gather below! We hear thy hoofs on the wind of night!
As black tree-branches shake and sigh,
By joy and terror we know thee nigh.
We speak the spell thy power unlocks,
At Solstice, Sabbat and equinox.
We hear very little news of the wars down South. I hope you will keep yourself strong and safe, and mace anyone in the head who appears to have other plans. ---Your loving Dad
Ye are a sassfaced young weed, aren’t ye? Well, ye’re lucky I appreciate humor in the young. I don’t question your loyalties any longer. I know now if I need to call on ye to betray your King and join forces with the Kings of Ireland ye won’t hesitate! Now ye are a Knight of the Red Branch of Ulster, ye must engage in one of our finest traditions: songmaking. Your current rank, as a new Knight among us, is Potato. To advance to the next rank, Slice of Soda Bread, you must compose a battle hymn for the Knights. This hymn must be of at least four verses and a chorus, must inspire warriors to fight our enemies. Further, you must teach this song to somebody else.
Welcome to the order, Flann! May you wander with dignity and honor and always carry a full saddlebag.
Your temper gets away with you! I had to listen to quite the whacking lecture from Sir Hort about your sassy retort to his questions. Please control yourself! I’ve sent along with this message a shillelagh – it belonged to your great grandfather who used it to hike all over Ireland. Now that you’ve surpassed your dad and become a knight, I can’t teach you anything about sword fighting and the like, but I can recommend you learn the fine art of Irish Stick Fighting. Look it up on the Merlinternet and see if you find an interest. Your sister is still lost, but the bears are healthy. Mother plans to make more sisters.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
In a recent political discussion with a conservative homeschooler (I would say friend, but she'd probably be offended, given that I'm a communist and all), I was surprised to hear her still generalizing that all liberals are actually communists. Here are some of the organizations she considers Marxist:
I just want conservatives to embrace some intellectual rigor! Calling all supporters of the Coffee Party, for example, communists would be analogous to us calling all supporters of the Tea Party fascists. It wouldn't be true, and worse than that, it wouldn't be smart. It's more difficult to understand complexity in an idea or a group of people -- easier to shriek "COMMIES!" or from this direction maybe "RACISTS!" and be done. But it's not only incorrect -- it's dishonest. And increasingly, it's ineffective.
People are getting educated - they're waking up to the fact that their neighbors, their third grade teacher, the cops down the street, the firemen downtown... aren't actually communists. They're regular people, trying not to get crapped on so that big corporations and the top 2% of earners can have their tax cuts. And the more that realization comes home to people, the more the Tea Party "Patriots" who dance around shrieking "COMMIES! COMMIES!" are going to be the ones looking foolish.