Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

Farm lad

[Episode 22 | 1798 : Sam]

Sam is escorted to the Owen farm as an assigned convict by two soldiers. Mr Owen introduces him to his chores and living quarters. He then meets the farm's goat, but is less than truthful about his experience with milking.


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: Poverty and punishment
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Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Historical events; Social order and education
  • Prior to watching this episode, have students explore the conditions of life for poor children in London in the 1790s. Read extracts from literature which provide examples of children in poverty in London. Some suggestions are Charles Dickens's books (for example, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Great Expectations), and the beginning of Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies. Although these texts are set in the 19th century (as opposed to the 18th), conditions had not improved for poverty-stricken children at that time. Focus students' attention on the poverty and lack of help for those in need.
  • As a class, view My Place Episode 22 | 1798: Sam, and ask students why they think Sam found it necessary to steal a coat when he lived in England. Students should complete a character profile on Sam, describing his physical characteristics and how he got to the farm.
  • Watch the clip Farm lad and ask students to:
  1. list examples of Sam's reactions to Mr Owens' instructions that show Sam is not a farm boy
  2. say why they think Sam lies to Mr Owen about being from a farm
  3. say why they think Mr Owen says that Katie, the goat, is 'worth more' to him than 'ten of Sam'.
  • Refer to the questions on Student Activity Sheet E22.1 Poverty and punishment.
  • Sam is left with many responsibilities while Mr Owen is away. Ask students to list the chores Sam has to perform. Ask them to compare this to what responsibilities they have today and compare with other children in their class.

  • Ask students to imagine they are Sam and to write a letter home to a friend about his first three days of life as Mr Owen's farm lad.
  • Organise the class into two teams. They are to debate the question 'Work and responsibility builds character in children'. Each member of the team is to come up with at least one reason or fact for their team, positive or negative. Host the debate for another class to view and vote on which team was the most effective in arguing for their side.


Activity 2: Euphemisms
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Subtheme(s): Customs and traditions; Language and scripting; Social order and education
  • Discuss with students the use of negative and persuasive words and language. For example, if we call a cat a 'fierce beast' it makes us think that the cat is dangerous and unpleasant. However if we use the words 'cute and fluffy like a kitten', we think the complete opposite. In this clip Mr Owen addresses Sam as 'boy' or 'lad' in order to reinforce his authority over him. Ask the students to consider how else Mr Owen feels he is superior. List these ideas. Also ask students to list other words or phrases Mr Owen uses to show his superiority and position of power over Sam. 
  • When Sam attempts to defend the fact that he stole a coat, he says 'some would call it long-term borrowing'. This is a euphemism. Explain the purpose of euphemism and ask students to create four euphemisms of their own. Students could research these on the internet or write them themselves.
  • Draw students' attention to the unique language and colloquialisms that Mr Owen uses to insult people. Focus on the section in the clip when he tells the soldiers to leave before he 'cracks [their] heads like rocks' and the part where he says to Sam that if he fails to look after the goat, he will 'dig [his] tripes out for it'. Ask students to list the colloquialisms used in the episode or the three clips within this resource and then comment on their meaning. Ask students to create three new (but not offensive) colloquialisms that could be used as insults or as positive comments. You may find the following resources useful:
  1. Hill, WF & Ottchen, CJ, 1995, Shakespeare's insults: educating your wit, Three Rivers Press, New York 
  2. Pete Levin, 'Ye Olde Shakesperean Insult Kit', www.petelevin.com/shakespeare.htm
  3. Insults.net, 'Shakespearean Insults', www.insults.net/html/shakespeare

  • In this clip, Sam makes up a very descriptive term to hide the fact that he does not know what a mattock is. He calls it a 'long-handled hook-nosed row digger'. Ask students to create new words for everyday objects in which they must use at least three adjectives. They can use objects in the classroom, such as a desk, chair bag, or pencil case for example, and like Sam they are to give them detailed names which explain their purpose.
  • Ask students to write the script for another conversation between Sam and Mr Owen, in which they should insert some colloquial terms spoken by both parties. Include for each speaker two insults, and have three common nouns replaced with highly descriptive made-up nouns and adjectives.


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