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Reading Hall

Do you know that…

The Aztecs lived in Mexico. Mexico is a place covered with rough crags. The Aztecs were Indians that traveled in groups in the early 1200′s. They wandered for many years before settling in the Valley of Mexico in the 1200′s.

The Aztecs did not eat that much, because they had no large domestic animals such as cattle. Meat was a luxury. The peasants grew most of their food. They traded for other things in market places. Men and boys hunted with blow guns, spears, clubs, and rocks.

The Aztecs believed that one of their gods had white skin and a beard. This god sailed away on a raft made of snakes, but promised to return. In 1519 Montezuma, the king of the Aztecs, was told that white-skinned, bearded men were coming. Montezuma believed the Aztec god had returned. At first the strangers were welcomed. Soon, however, Montezuma learned that their leader, Hernando Cortez, was not a god. He and his men had come to conquer the New World for the king of Spain.

The Aztecs made many sacrifices to their gods. When victims reached the altar they were caught by the priests and stretched across a sacrificial stone. A priest with an obsidian knife cut open each chest and tore out the victims heart. The heart was placed in a bowl or the chacmool–a stone statue.

The Aztec’s society was made up of the emperor, the chief advisor, nobles,and slaves. The leader of the Aztecs was the emperor. The emperors chief adviser was a man who had the strange title of Cihuacoatl or Snake Woman. Below the rulers were the great nobles, the Tlatani, who governed the provinces. The lowest group in Aztec society were the slaves. Some were prisoners taken in battle. Others were Aztecs who had fallen on hard times.

The Aztecs built their city on an island in the middle of a swampy lake called Texcoco or in English, Lake of theMoon. They called their city Tenoctitlan which means Place of the Prickly Pear Cactus.

To build more land they built large rafts made from straw on which they placed river mud. They planted trees and vegetables and their long roots anchored the rafts to the bottom of the lake. By placing the rafts apart they created a system of canals throughout the city. Most of the city was built using slave labor by forming poor tribes who could pay taxes to work.

Around the center of the city there were also four districts, each with its own government. Each district had its own houses, shops, parks, schools, and temples for lesser gods. The city was rich with goldsilver, and rare jewels.

The Aztecs were an interesting tribe to learn about, because they had unusual culture habits.

Face of the Issue

Joanne «Jo» Rowling,  better known as J. K. Rowling, is a British novelist, best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies to become the best-selling book series in history and been the basis for a popular series of films, in which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts as well as maintaining creative control by serving as a producer on the final instalment. Rowling conceived the idea for the series on a train trip from Manchester to London in 1990.

 

Pupils without Internet Disadvantaged in Education

More than half of teachers believe that children with no internet access are seriously disadvantaged in their education, a survey has suggested.

A fifth of the 585 teachers surveyed for the Times Educational Supplement and charity E-Learning Foundation said internet access was essential for pupil’s homework.

The charity also warned it was seeing support from the government cut.

It is estimated two million children live in homes without internet access.

An increasing amount of schoolwork, especially at secondary school, is dependent on computer use.

‘Digital divide’

Some 55% of those surveyed said children who had no internet at home were at a serious disadvantage.

Chief executive of the E-Learning Foundation, Valerie Thompson, said the digital divide was having a damaging impact on children’s prospects.

«Young people without access to the internet can struggle to complete their homework and coursework, and fall behind.

«Teachers are increasingly assuming that children have internet access, making it harder, and this can exacerbate the impact of the divide.

«If we are serious about improving the life chances of the most disadvantaged, we have to tackle the digital divide, otherwise the poorest children will be left even further behind.»

The charity helps ensure children have access to learning technologies.

 Oscar Wilde “The Picture Of Dorian Gray”

Read by J. Averina

I have just finished reading a very interesting and unusual book. Its title is “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. The book is written by one of the famous British writers Oscar Wilde. The author of the book was born in Dublin on 15 October, 1854. Wilde was the writer of many plays and tales. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is his only novel published in 1891 and it ranks as one of its author’s most important creations.

This book is a story about the corruption of innocence. It is set in the late 19th century. All characters of the novel have their own personality.

At the beginning of the novel, Dorian Gray, the main character, is presented by the author as a wonderfully handsome young man, with his finely curved scarlet lips, his frank blue eyes, his crisp gold hair. There was something in his face that made everybody trust him at once. He captured the imagination of Basil Hallward, a talented painter, and Lord Henry, a nobleman, and they became Dorian’s closest friends.

The story begins with Basil Hallward painting a magnificent picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian realizes that youth and beauty are an illusion, and he wishes he stayed looking young, beautiful and innocent as he gets older, and the picture got older instead of him. His wish comes true. In fact, he remains as beautiful as ever. Nothing ages him, though he lives his life as a pleasure-seeker.

Dorian Gray becomes corrupt by his own vanity, and slowly descends into his own personal hell. He has the appearance of an angel, yet his soul is as black as the devil’s.

Sibyl Vane was the first and probably the only Dorian’s love. He met her in the shabby theatre and fell in love with the images she produced on the stage. He adored the way she was acting and wanted Lord Henry and Basil to see her. When they came to the theatre, Lord Henry admitted that she was wonderfully beautiful and charming. However, her acting disappointed them. She was a complete failure because of her love to Prince Charming as she used to call Dorian.

After the performance Dorian, who loved Sibyl only because of her ability to act, cruelly broke his engagement with her, saying that she had killed his love. He adored her acting, her voice, her appearance, but never understood real Sibyl Vane. Dorian broke Sibyl’s heart and drove her to suicide. But he soon forgot Sibyl and that was the beginning of the end for him.

Lord Henry Wotton is a person with his own philosophy of life, the universe, and everything. Wotton is ten years older than Dorian Gray, and it’s obvious from the book, that he is indirectly responsible for Dorian Gray’s downfall. His charm, wit and intellect produce mostly negative influence on Dorian.

Being a loyal friend of Dorian Basil Hallward wanted to protect him from Lord Henry’s harmful influence. But Dorian murdered Basil and this fact vividly showed his corrupted nature.

Dorian himself realized that he had sold his soul to the devil and he decided to put an end to this agony. He stabbed the old man in the picture with the knife and finally released himself from that monstrous life of his soul. When the servants entered Dorian’s room they found, “hanging upon the wall, a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him, in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead man…He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage”. That was Dorian Gray.

It seems to me that “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde helps the reader to imagine all the aspects of the author’s views on life. The narration in the novel is based on the plot and characters combining mystery, symbolism and fantasy.

I am sure, this book is a reminder to us that the beauty is so fragile, and the harmony of the soul and the body is so wonderful!

The language of the novel is very picturesque and expressive. It is full of brilliant paradoxes and idioms.

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” impressed me greatly and I think it will be a real pleasure for everybody to read it in the original.