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Cat-o'-nine-tails

[Episode 24 | 1788 : Dan]

Dan prepares to endure a flogging after disobeying orders and leaving his post. However, his punishment is abandoned after Waruwi appears with a puppy for the governor.


English

The Australian curriculum: English

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The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:

  • learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
  • appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
  • understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
  • develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.

English activities [2]

Activity 1: Punishment
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Customs and traditions; Historical events
Discover
  • Prior to watching this clip, introduce students to the idea of corporal punishment being commonplace for members of the British navy, even if they were children. Explain to students that physical punishment was an acceptable aspect of life for a marine.
  • As a class, watch the clip and ask students to listen and note the conversation between Lieutenant Roberts and Dan. Explain the use of the military terminology 'deserted your post' and the use of the word 'flogged'. Now watch all of Episode 24 | 1788: Dan and have students note the words and phrases that are synonymous with the military and punishment. They should jot down the words they hear, find their meaning and share these with the class.
  • Ask students to research the meaning of the phrase, 'Let the cat out of the bag.' Ask students the following questions: 
  1. Have you heard this phrase before? 
  2. What do you think it means? 
  3. Does it take on a different meaning when thinking about the cat-o'-nine-tails?

Reflect
  • Focus students' attention on the cat-o'-nine-tails that is to be used to punish Dan. Explain that implements for inflicting pain were used regularly to deter people from crime. Ask students to find out what other punishments were given to convicts, the military and free settlers in the early days of the colony. A useful resource is:
  1. Australian National Maritime Museum, www.anmm.gov.au/site/page.cfm 
  2. BBC History, 'Life at Sea in the Royal Navy of the 18th Century', www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/life_at_sea_01.shtml
    First
     Fleet, 'Stories: Law and Order in Sydney Cove',
    http://firstfleet.uow.edu.au/s_law_order.html
  • Ask students to present their findings in a governor's proclamation warning the marines and colonists of the punishment if they transgress the rules. They are to emulate the style of poster commonly found in the 1780s, listing the rules that convicts and the military must obey and the consequences of breaking them. The poster should contain the appropriate terminology for the consequences and punishments for breaking those rules. The poster should be illustrated with a picture of a cat-o'-nine-tails and other punitive implements.

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Activity 2: Persuasion
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Customs and traditions; Language and scripting
Discover
  • View the clip and ask students to concentrate on the conversation between Dan and Lieutenant Roberts, in which Dan defends himself and explains why he gave the dog back to Waruwi. Draw students' attention to Dan's line, 'I didn't steal the dog, I returned it to its owner.' Conduct a class discussion about the different attitudes Lieutenant Roberts and Dan have towards Indigenous peoples.
  • Ask students to refer to Student Activity Sheet E24.6: Persuasion and answer the following questions:
  1. What are the three crimes that Dan has been charged with?
  2. What did Dan give Waruwi in exchange for the dog?
  3. What is the triangle?
  4. What does Dan say that persuades Lieutenant Roberts to believe that this is a better animal for him? 
  5. Who tries to support Dan in persuading Captain Roberts? What does this person say?
  6. What finally persuades Captain Roberts that Dan does not need to be punished and in fact has been a 'very good soldier'.
  • Draw students' attention to when Dan states that the puppy is 'a gift from the natives, a friendly gift, so we are keeping the governor's will'. Ask students how they think Dan may be feeling at this moment. In pairs, students are to role-play the conversation they think Dan and Goodwin have on their way back to camp. The conversation could reveal Dan's vindication for escaping punishment and upholding the governor's orders. Goodwin, being older, could reflect on his own attitudes and perceptions about Indigenous peoples or could advise Dan on the lesson which was learnt and how to avoid trouble next time.

Reflect
  • Ask students to imagine a situation in which they have to use their powers of persuasion in order to avoid being punished. The situation can be based on a real-life event or completely fictionalised. Students are to write down an account of what they would say in order to persuade their commander that they should not be punished. Ask selected students to enact this and persuade the class. Encourage students to use verbal and non-verbal gestures to emphasis points in their argument.

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