The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is more relevant than ever right now. Here’s four reasons to dust it off and get it back into students’ hands this year.
1. Zaphod Beeblebrox is Donald Trump
Regardless of how you feel politically, we can all agree Trump sometimes acts sporadically. I Just finished reading this with one of my classes and in the first chapter Zaphod appears one of my students made the connection. BuzzFeed even has a who-said-it quiz between the two.
The President is very much a figurehead — he wields no real power whatsoever. For this reason the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it.
I played Devil’s Advocate with my students offering up the idea that Trump has not yet stolen a spaceship in the hopes of finding some long-buried treasure. So no, they are not actually one in the same. But it makes for great discussion with the students about leaders and politics in general and how they work (or don’t work).
2. Satire is Taking Over Social Media
Satirical articles are ubiquitous on social media, but many people can’t distinguish between real news and satire. I’ve seen more than a few people freaking out over what I thought was clearly satire. Like this one
Satire is not the easiest thing to teach students. I usually include a few video clips to help introduce it. One example is in my post about SNL satirical commercials which you can access here. For an assessment on satire I have my students create their own satirical commercials for products involving technology/genuine people personalities. I also have students write their own satirical original Earth entries for the guide book. You can access them here at my TeachersPayTeachers store.
3. What Was Futuristic is Now Current
Adams’s futuristic universe contains the Babel fish – a fish that can translate any language. Through various quotes from the narrator and events in the text, it is clear Adams is not too keen on the idea.
Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.
But that was back in the 70s when it was in theory only. Similarly, Adams created robots, ships, and doors that are equipped with Genuine People Personalities. Siri, anyone?
Now that Adams’s predictions are a reality, it’s the perfect time to ask students what they think about the topics. Adams seems to have been against it based on his satire of the topics, but the students frequently have differing opinions.
4. This Humorous Text Will Remind Students Reading is an Enjoyable Activity
Even though the students won’t get all of the jokes, they will still absolutely find many parts hilarious. We listen to the audiobook in class so we can pause to discuss as we go. Stephen Fry’s the voice artist for the audiobook and he’s fabulous. Try not to laugh when he says “Slartibartfast.” I promise you can’t, and students can’t hold back their laughter either.
What to give it a try? I have chapter summaries, projects, and writing prompts all ready to go!