My father's house

[Episode 17 | 1848: Johanna]

Johanna asks a number of locals about her father but is concerned by the inconsistencies in the information she receives. When she confronts her grandmother about her father, she is given just one enigmatic fact. Johanna's aunt dresses her down for her pranks.


The Australian curriculum: English

Show curriculum details

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: Red herrings
Show details
Subtheme(s): Character; Language and scripting; Relationships
  • In this clip Johanna asks a number of people to tell her about her father. She tells Granny Sarah that everyone has lied to her. Ask students to view the clip carefully to find out when Johanna realises the stories are not true, and to think about why every person might tell Johanna a different story.
  • There seems to be a conspiracy between the characters not to tell Johanna the truth. Ask students why they feel that so many people would agree to withhold the truth. Johanna may be young but she is intelligent and she hatches a plan to uncover the truth.
  • Divide the class into small groups of four. Each group is a CSI investigation team and they are to find the clues throughout the episode that lead Johanna to the truth. Ask students to locate five important clues that Johanna tracks down as she tries to find out who her father is. They should also note the 'red herrings', or the untruths, that people tell her.
  • Ask students to view the clip again, looking at the ways in which the filmmaker reveals Johanna's, Granny Sarah's and Maryann's feelings through the dialogue, but also at times without them needing to say anything. Have students role-play each of their interactions, emphasising an accurate portrayal of each character's thoughts and feelings through the use of body language such as gestures and facial expressions. 
  • Discuss the ways in which the filmmaker aligns the audience with Johanna's character. Ask students to discuss the following questions:
  1. Who does the filmmaker align the viewer with in this clip?
  2. What filmmaking techniques are used to do this?
  3. Why is the character Johanna the most significant character in this clip?

  • Ten Questions game: In their CSI groups, have each member of the team elect to be a character from the episode. They should study the character thoroughly and produce a character profile. The other students in the group can ask a total of ten questions to the person in character and try to guess who they are. The character can elect to answer only five questions correctly and the other five questions can be 'red herrings'. The rest of the group needs to work out which answers were true and which were red herrings in order to guess the identity of the character. They should observe the body movements, expressions and language of the character in order to do this. 
  • Ask students to each create a 'Missing person' poster that illustrates and describes what they think Johanna's father's appearance and personality might be like. Display and discuss reasons for the choices made by each student.


Activity 2: The chambermaid
Show details
Subtheme(s): Character; Chores, business and employment; Social order and education
  • As a class, view the clip My father's house in order to establish the settings, the main and secondary characters and the key events. Ask students to examine the role and status of various characters including Johanna, Granny Sarah, Miss Hannah, Maryann, young fair-haired woman customer, older customer and the dark-haired young customer. It will assist students to replay the clip and consider where each of the characters lives or works and their actions in the clip. 
  • Maryann chastises Johanna for putting a frog in the chamber pot to scare Edgar Owen, and putting a potato in the pram to replace Christabel's doll. Maryann and Johanna talk about Maryann's job at the 'big house', a place that Johanna is forbidden to enter. Ask students why Maryann might refer to her employer's home as 'the big house'? Maryann emphasises that her job is too important to lose. 
  • Explore the idea of women in the workforce during the 1840s. Ask students to report on what work they did, what payment they received, and what the conditions of their employment were. Have students discuss the roles of the female characters in the episode and identify which of the female characters work outside the home.

  • Imagine that Maryann leaves the Owens family to go to Bathurst. Have students draft a job description for Maryann's position to be placed in the local newspaper. Students could also write an application for Maryann's job.
  • In pairs, students enact a mock interview for the position of domestic servant. One student could be the interviewer and one person the interviewee. Ask students to devise a set of questions to ask the applicant about their experience, background and references. The interviewee should have a set of questions to ask about the position.


Student Activity sheet E17.6: The chambermaid

{tpl region name=footerbottom}