Greek school

[Episode 6 | 1958 : Michaelis]

Attendance at Greek school is a common expectation for young Greek children in Australia. Michaelis is attending Greek school to learn about the history, language and culture of his ancestry, but his mind is still on the escapades of The Adventures of Robin Hood, a TV serial he is fixated on.


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 [3]

Activity 1: Ancestry
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Subtheme(s): Multiculturalism

Since 1945, about 6.9 million people have come to Australia as new settlers. Their contribution to Australian society, culture and prosperity has been an important factor in shaping the nation. After the Second World War, more than 160,000 Greek people came to Australia, working first in factories or farms as unskilled or semi-skilled labour. The Greek population in Melbourne constitutes one of the largest Greek settlements in the world. Refer to the Origins website, 'Immigrant Communities in Victoria' for further information at


Ask students to discuss their family's immigration history, if they were immigrants to Australia. Ask them to interview their parents, grandparents and perhaps great grandparents to find out how their family came to Australia. They could investigate the website, for ideas and information on key elements, such as how to create a family tree or locate immigration history information.

  • Students create a family tree using the free ancestral chart on at
  • This family tree can become part of a series of immigration history projects called 'My family story'. The project could be created online as a stand-alone activity or as part of the 'My family story' project.


Activity 2: Heritage
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Subtheme(s): Customs and traditions; Multiculturalism

Michaelis is depicted as a typical Greek child in the late 1950s. Throughout the episode he battles with his identity. Is he Australian, or is he Greek? Many immigrant families wanted their children to learn traditional customs and language, and to uphold their social and religious beliefs. Sometimes this is difficult in a new environment with different values and perspectives.

  • Being teased for being different was part of life for immigrants in Australia. Language barriers, cultural differences and family values sometimes clashed. In this clip, we see the cultural divide in Australia in the 1950s. Ask the class to discuss how Michaelis might feel during the milk bar scene. Ask the students to identify their different cultural backgrounds and make a list of each of these cultures.

  • Ask students to form groups of four to six, and research the cultural identity of one of the cultures from the class list. They can create a webpage with a cultural profile and include information about the food, music, religious festivals, celebrations and language of that culture. As an extension, the students could connect online with school students from their selected country and talk with them about what it is like to live in that country today.
  • Alternatively, ask students to create a short audio or film advertisement advising Australian residents about what new migrants need to make resettlement in Australia easier. It should identify the differences in cultural perspectives, advise on making new migrants feel welcome and explain what is meant by a 'fair go' in Australia.


Activity 3: Warriors and heroes
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Subtheme(s): Beliefs; Historical events; Multiculturalism

Michaelis attends Greek School to learn the Greek language of his heritage, but he would rather be watching The Adventures of Robin Hood on television. During class his teacher offers him a holy card of Saint Michael, the saint of warriors.

  • As a class, find out information about Saint Michael; who he was, when he lived, what famous deeds he is noted for, his importance today and who admires him. Additionally, research Robin Hood in the same way and compare the two men. Have a class vote to see which hero students believe displayed more heroic characteristics.

  • Ask students to define what they mean by the term 'hero' or 'heroine'. Ask them to name some heroes or heroines they identify with. List these as well as the eras they lived in.
  • Research the following questions:
  1. When did they live?
  2. Where did they live?
  3. What are they famous for?
  4. What is their importance and to whom?
  • Ask students to research the story of one hero or heroine to share with the class.


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