Courting

[Episode 7 | 1948 : Jen]

Jen and her friends are fantasising about the attractiveness of movie stars and royalty and rating them between one and ten. The girls only rate Wal as a three or four, which makes Jen feel that her friends would not approve if she told them about her mother's affection for him. She realises the inevitable when she sees her mother's engagement ring.


History

The Australian curriculum: History

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The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [2]

Activity 1: Marriage etiquette
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Subtheme(s): Customs and traditions; Relationships
Discover
  • In the 1940s, courting followed a set of unwritten rules for both young men and women. There was an acceptable time during which the couple held hands, kissed and then got engaged. Following these societal conventions kept your reputation intact.
  • Ask the class to research the topic 'courting etiquette' or dating advice. They should find out what conventions were followed in the 1940s and evaluate if these expectations have changed today and how.  For example, the boy/man opens the door for the girl/lady, the boy/man is expected to pay for dinner while on a ‘date’, the girl/women is expected to be demure, quiet and attentive.
  • They could also find out more about the radio drama When a girl marries that was popular in the 1940s. Some sources to help with researching the topic are:
  1. Screen Australia Digital Learning, 'Programs with Staying Power', http://dl.screenaustralia.gov.au/module/290/
  2. National Film and Sound Archive, 'Australian Radio Series 1930s to 1970s', http://www.nfsa.gov.au/docs/collectionguide_australianradioseries1930-1970.pdf
  3. Australian Old Time Radio, http://www.australianotr.com.au/Valebud.asp

Reflect
  • Students could find images of famous people getting married in the 1940s: for example, royalty, movie stars and sportspeople. These can be used to document 1940s wedding fashions and produce a wedding album.

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Activity 2: A marriage proposal
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Customs and traditions
Discover
  • Wal approaches Jen's grandfather to ask for permission to marry Jen's mother. We see Wal leaving the house and acknowledging the older man. Jen guesses what is happening.
  • As a class, discuss why it was important for Wal to approach Jen's grandfather for permission to marry. Ask students to consider if this custom is still common today and why or why not. Discuss where and when the custom may have developed.

Reflect
  • Ask students to select communities with different cultural backgrounds in Australia or in other countries and research their marriage customs. Each student or group should make a poster about their research and present it to the class.

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