A female gaol

[Episode 21 | 1808 : Sarah]

Sarah is punished after she introduces herself to some local Aboriginal people. After she accidentally breaks a plate while doing the dishes, Alice blackmails Sarah into taking her outside.


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: Points of view
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Subtheme(s): Indigenous perspectives; Relationships; Social order and education
  • Prior to watching the clip, talk with the students about their prior knowledge of the colonisation of Australia and its impact on Indigenous people. Refer toMy Place for Teachers , 'Decade timeline', for details. For older students, refer to clips from Beck Cole and Rachel Perkins's television series; The First Australians, or read John Marsden's illustrated children's book about colonisation The Rabbits. A range of educational websites on the subject can be found at Primary School, http://www.primaryschool.com.au/
  • As a class, watch the clip A female gaol and take particular note of the scene when Sarah meets an Aboriginal family.
  • Ask student to complete the questions on Student Activity Sheet E21.3: Points of view.

  • Ask the students to consider the different points of view in the scene where Sarah meets an Aboriginal family. What kinds of thoughts and feelings might different people have?
  1. What might members of the Aboriginal family be thinking about feeling during the encounter when they first see Sarah and Mrs Owen and when Mrs Owen fires a gun in the air
  2. How would they have felt if they had heard Mrs Owen say: 'This is not their place'?
  3. What could Mrs Owen be thinking and feeling?
  4. Why does she fire a gun in the air?
  5. Why does she beat Sarah afterwards?
  6. Sarah smiles at the family. What might she be thinking and feeling?
  7. She seems to be silently communicating with Sam. What message do you think they are conveying to each other?


Activity 2: Crime and punishment
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Subtheme(s): Character; Culture; Social order and education
  • In the clip Crime and punishment Sarah is physically punished by Mrs Owen. Discuss the concept of 'punishment' and consider what would be acceptable punishments for children's wrongdoing. Direct the discussion away from physical punishment to dealing with denial and withdrawal of privileges. You could view clips from Jonathan Dawson's film version of Ginger Meggs and John Duigan's film Flirting to see examples of physical punishment. Teachers should always view content prior to showing the class so it can be reviewed for age appropriateness.
  • In this clip, Alice threatens to have Sarah sent to a children's prison if she doesn't do what Alice wants. Ask students to research Australian laws relating to corporal punishment and the detention of children. Some useful information can be found at: End all corporal punishment of children, 'Global progress', Australia, http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org/pages/progress/reports/australia.html.
  • Using this research, students are to imagine that they have been transported in time to 1808 and have been convicted of making contact with local Indigenous people. They are to imagine themselves in court and are to write and role-play their defence speech.

  • Ask the students to consider the character of Alice, Sarah or Mrs Owen. They are to imagine their character has been transported in time from 1818 to the present day. Conduct a freeze-frame exercise in which the teacher walks around the class and taps the shoulder of each student in turn. When they are tapped, they introduce their character and explain how they feel about topic of punishment for children.


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