Eggs for tuppence

[Episode 16 | 1858 : Ben]

After foraging in the forest for plover's eggs, Ben competes with Leck to sell them to the local populace. He then gets into trouble with his father after he repeats an ugly stereotype about Chinese people that he learnt from Mr Wilson.


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: It's not fair
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Subtheme(s): Currency; Multiculturalism; Social order and education
  • Introduce students to the concept of social class. Have them research and discuss factors that contributed to the divisions of society during the 1850s, looking at the backgrounds of the people who flocked to the goldfields: Europeans, Americans, Chinese, South Americans, etc. Play the clip, Eggs for tuppence, and examine how language and gestures help identify the divisions in social class between the characters. As a class, devise a pyramid of social divisions that would have been prevalent in the 1850s on the goldfields. List the different nationalities and place them within the divisions of the triangle. Discuss how these social divisions would have come about and/or been made.
  • As a class, discuss the concept of 'stereotypes'. Provide examples for students to consider, for example, witches and ogres in fairytales are generally considered evil or 'bad', while princes and princesses are kind and 'good'. Explain that stereotypes are generalisations that often offer a judgement on the character and actions of a person that is not always a fair or accurate depiction of them. Ask students to list characteristics of a 'good' stereotype and characteristics of a 'bad' stereotype.
  • Discuss with students reasons why stereotypes are used in books and films, explaining how they can quickly convey an idea to an audience. Point out that authors and filmmakers can use stereotypes to lead people to form a positive or a negative impression about a person or a group. Play the clip asking each student to use Student Activity Sheet E16.3 It's not fair to identify stereotypes that are evident, and associated generalisations, for example, Ben's mother is sewing, depicting the role of women at this time and the traditional clothing worn by Leck identifies him as Chinese.
  • Ben has trouble selling his eggs because many people are loyal to Leck. Conduct a class vote to find out how many students think it was wrong for Ben to try to take away Leck's business. Invite each student to put on an imaginary pair of Leck's shoes to help them consider how Leck might have felt when he had to compete with Ben to earn money. Have students share thoughts and feelings about Ben's actions, then ask each student to create and display a mind map exploring other ways Ben might earn money, rather than impacting on Leck's business.

  • Following Ben's comment that the cat was lucky to get out alive, Ben's father chastises him, telling him not to talk like that. He says, 'This world will never be a decent place until all men learn to get along like brothers' Discuss what Ben's father's words imply about his point of view in relation to racism. Contrast this with what his words reveal about the place of women in society at this time.
  • Leck is a significant character in this episode providing an opportunity to discuss reasons why Chinese people came to Australia at different times. Discuss reasons why Leck's family might have come to live in Australia? Ask students to conduct research on the internet or using reference books in the library to find out when and why Chinese people came to Australia. Students could develop a timeline of Chinese migration to Australia. The timeline should include dates, images and reasons for Chinese people coming to Australia.


Student Activity Sheet E16.4: Stereotypes

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