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

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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 [1]

Activity 1: The chambermaid
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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

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