Tuesday, January 21, 2014


When Katie, Erin and I met around my kitchen table to plan the book reveal, we took faction quizzes.  Predictably, Erin identified with Abnegation and Katie with Dauntless.  I really wanted to be Erudite.  Not only do I value learning, but blue is a really great color for me.  I was somewhat disappointed to be grouped with Amity.  I took another quiz, this time choosing answers I thought had a slightly more intellectual flavor.  Nope.  Still Amity.  I took quiz after quiz after quiz.  Amity, Amity, Amity.  Phbt.  I don't look good in yellow. 

Owning our faction fashions.
The night before the big reveal, I didn't sleep well.  I tossed and turned a lot.  I didn't attribute my restlessness to anything in particular.  I had a big day ahead of me.  There was the reveal, a new lesson to teach to my classes, and my parents were in town for a rare dinner opportunity.  It wasn't until I was walking in to school, fighting the growing nausea, that I realized I was nervous.

After our on-air, highly scripted, excessively-rehearsed argument, we each snatched up our book and left the news room in a bit of a huff.  News crew kids tailed Miss O'Leary and grilled her; I eavesdropped from the guidance office, grinning like an idiot.  As I hid like the Amity coward I am, I realized something.  I didn't lose sleep because I had to speak on the news.  I wasn't nervous because I knew I'd be addressing a room of 500+.  Nope.  My stomach was now completely calm.  I felt sick because I didn't want to fight with Erin.  Huh.  I guess I'm Amity after all. 

CRL update twelve weeks later…

We were planning our first event, inspired by a colleague's Scruples-like faction activity.  We took seven moral dilemma-type queries and generated five responses to each one, hopefully capturing the values held by the factions.  

The humble, innocuous Abnegation
slipped right under the radar.
We also had a strong desire to out-think our kidlets.  See, every sixth-grade girl wants to be Dauntless.  Every eighth-grade boy wants to be Dauntless too, and will go so far as to answer the questions in the back of Veronica Roth's bestseller reflecting whom they hope to be, not as the student who cried in Miss O'Leary's class when she corrected his capitalization error.

See what we mean?

We had a lot of fun with it - what U.S city would  Candor visit? What would Dauntless eat for dinner?

Candor is ready to relay…
and tell the world.
So we made up the responses.  All thirty-five of them.  Sure we had justifications - and we totally thought they were clever - but we had a decent dose of mind-messing thrown in, "No one is going to order sushi, they'll all choose chicken fingers and fries - we'll totally get some Abnegation!"  FYI - turns out, a considerable number of middle schoolers order sushi.  Who knew?
The Erudite included every member
of our school's math team. No joke.

When all was said and done, and all one hundred sixty-something initiates rotated through the stations, we stood in awe.  Not only did our test result in a fairly even distribution of initiates, it was incredibly, impeccably, hysterically accurate.  

When it came time for the faction relay race, this is what went down. 

"Go ahead."  "No, it's okay.  YOU go!"
"You first.  I insist!"  
"It's cool if we just wear our own
leather, right?"
Amity: While all the other students were debating who would be one of the 7 from their faction to run the relay race, no one in Amity volunteered.  They didn't want to take a spot from a friend who might want the honor.   They didn't care who won; they were just so darn happy to BE there!  

Dauntless:  They wouldn't sit down.  Or shut up.  Or notice when the entire gym was silent and staring at them, waiting for them to do both.  At one point they were chasing the Assistant Principal around the gym to see who was the fastest. They came dressed in their own black clothes, knee-high boots, and Batman sweatshirts.  When handed a leather jacket for the costume portion of the relay race, one dauntless heroine asked if she could just wear her own.  

Erudite: Before the black-market-trading portion of the faction relay activity, the Erudite plotted in secret.  They decided to hoard the materials they gathered.  True, they wouldn't need *everything* they got, but by keeping it to themselves they knew they'd be depriving other teams of points.  It was a manipulation the CRL never anticipated (we ruled it legal - it's not their fault they are smarter than we are).

Candor:  These guys ratted out the clever Erudite at the very first opportunity and complained (loudly) that it was unfair. 

Our HMMS cherubs answered questions that were written the night before by women running solely on desperation and caffeine, yet their answers resulted in factions that were so perfectly aligned with the novel that we could supply the filming of INSURGENT with more extras than they could possibly need.   

You can't make this stuff up. 

I guess that just about wraps up...oh... Abnegation?  Well, Abnegation finished second…but nobody noticed.

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