[Episode 21 | 1808 : Sarah]

After their outdoor adventure, Sarah and Alice have a moment of companionship but it is quickly ruined when Alice exerts her power over Sarah's position.


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 [1]

Activity 1: A classless society
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Social order and education

In this clip, Alice is keen to put Sarah in her place as a servant who must obey the commands of her mistress. Alice's attitude reflects a class-based society very much in evidence in Britain during the 18th and 19th centuries. Many Australians today value their lack of an 'upper class' and a 'lower class' as a definitive value of the nation. A lack of class distinction among Australians struck DH Lawrence when he visited the country in the 1920s, and a levelling tendency clearly characterised cricketer Dennis Lillee's famous greeting to the Queen when he shook her hand with "G'day, how ya goin'?". Some social commentators and historians trace this ideal of egalitarianism back to Australia's convict heritage. However, while this is an ideal considered central to Australian identity, can Australia really be described as a classless society?

  • Ask students to consider what is understood by the term 'classless society' and which features of Australian society might be considered a part of this idea. You might like to stimulate class discussion by drawing on the following resource:
  1. Smith, B. The Australian 23 January 2010. In A Class of Our Own, 
  • Ask students to research Australian history and nominate an event or events where Australians fought to retain an egalitarian disposition, for example, the Eureka Stockade, the shearers'/miners' strikes and the Aboriginal tent embassy. Ask students if they feel that all people in Australia have the same rights and privileges as everyone else.

  • Ask students to consider whether they agree with the statement 'Australia is a classless society'. Mark out a straight line along the classroom floor and place markers (for example A for 'Agree', D for 'Disagree') at either end of the line. Mark the midpoint of the line as the 'Undecided' area. Ask students to position themselves along the line according to their belief in the statement. 
  • As a freeze-frame exercise, ask students to provide brief explanations of why they have assumed the position they have chosen. The teacher touches the shoulder of each student who then speaks about their views. The student could take the role of a worker in society and present their opinion.
  • Students can then move again to reflect their changing views.


Student Activity Sheet: H21.6: A classless society?

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