Hello comrade, do you have your blue party pen and red ribbon? It is that time of year again when 10 Honors English students delve into the world of the novel “1984,” written by George Orwell. The novel itself is an intriguing read to begin with, but the FHS English Department takes the story to a whole new interactive level.
English teacher Dana Maier, often referred to as “Maier Supreme,” is one of the main forces in conducting the “1984” simulation game that students participate in to gain a deeper understanding of the novel. The basis of the game is to follow the “party rules” meant to simulate the oppression depicted in the novel, but on a much smaller scale. Some of the rules include greeting fellow classmates with the phrase “good morning comrade,” wearing blue and the required red party ribbon, as well as writing class assignments in the given blue party pen. Going further into the simulation, there are three students in each 10 Honors class who are assigned as “thought police,” just like in the novel. These students seek out any rule breaking from their peers and report them to their respective English teachers, who represent Big Brother from Orwell’s novel.
Although the game is a great way for students to experience the world of “1984,” the simulation is meant to represent much more. It serves as an eye opener to students so that they might begin to grasp the concept that many people all over the world face oppression, like in the book.
“I hope [students] come away with a better understanding of other societies in the world, other governments, and a slight taste of what it’s like to live in an oppressive society, even though these rules aren’t that oppressive,” Maier said. “They’re really light, but when you’ve had freedom your whole live and you’ve never had to live by strict rules and follow them for fear of being punished, I think it does give you a sense of that.”
Although the game ended after a few days for the 10 Honors English students, they came out of the game understanding that strict censorship and oppression is an everyday reality for many people in other countries, such as North Korea. By having experienced a small taste of oppression, students involved in the game where shown just how free they truly are. Even if that freedom is as simple as being able to decide what pen color pen to write with or what to wear.
As Orwell once said, “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”