Making amends

[Episode 15 | 1868 : Minna]

Minna and Adelaide confess to stealing the lantern after Mr Owen refuses to return it to Mr Wong. Minna's father has her make amends for her transgression by working for Mr Wong - a punishment that Mr Owen finds inappropriate.


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: Exploring events and feelings
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Subtheme(s): Character; Gender roles and stereotypes; Language and scripting
  • Play the clip without the sound. Ask students to work in groups of three and watch carefully, focusing on the facial expressions and body language of each character in order to make predictions about the story being told. Ask each group to record ideas about the story in the form of a story ladder, where events are listed one above the other. 
  • Replay the clip without the sound. Ask each group of students to think about and discuss the feelings they think each character may be experiencing as the events unfold.
  • Finally, watch the clip with the sound. Ask each group to review and amend the main events listed in their story ladder, thinking about what happened, why and to whom. Have them use the format provided in Student Activity Sheet E15.7: Exploring events and feelings to record their ideas.

  • Seat the class in a sharing circle, and have pairs of class members take turns to role-play a short scene from the clip, with an emphasis on portraying the feelings of each character using body language and facial expressions. Ask other students in the circle to identify the characters and the feelings each character exhibits, emphasising the use of specific vocabulary to explore and describe the feelings of the characters involved. 
  • As a class, discuss how each girl might feel at the moment she realises she needs to own up. Ask each student to imagine he or she was involved in causing Mr Wong's distress. Have each student write Mr Wong a short letter of apology in an attempt to make amends.


Activity 2: Owning up
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Subtheme(s): Character; Fashion; Social order and education
  • After watching the clip, ask students to describe the dress and the demeanour of each character. Consider all the characters that appear in the clip, including those who have no dialogue. What is each character doing?
  • Ask the class to explain why Mr Wong's little box is so precious to him. Ask students to draw upon evidence from the clip to discuss:
  1. What might Mr Wong mean when he says the box contains the only likeness of his family and home? 
  2. Where is the home Mr Wong mentions?
  3. What is the attitude of Adelaide's father towards Mr Wong? Does he think he should return Mr Wong's property? Why or why not?
  4. Why do you think Mr Wong mentions the constable?
  5. What is the response of Adelaide's father in relation to the help Mr Wong will receive from the police? Do you think he is really wishing Mr Wong good luck? How do you know?
  6. Why do you think Adelaide's father seems confident the police will not help Mr Wong?
  7. What does Mr Wong say to Minna? What does he mean?
  • As a class, compare and contrast the responses of Adelaide and Minna's fathers. Adelaide's father is cross because Adelaide embarrassed him; in response he sent Adelaide to her room. How does Minna's father respond to the incident? Why do you think Minna's father suggests a suitable consequence is for Minna to work for Mr Wong until she has paid her debt to him? Why do you think Adelaide's father is shocked at this suggestion?

  • Ask each student to use evidence from the clip to create a graphic representation using Student Activity Sheet E15.8: Owning up. Students should show what they have discovered about the social hierarchy that existed in1868. To create a social order pyramid, students draw a large triangle with the point at the top. Inside the triangle, they arrange the names of characters to show where each one fits in the social hierarchy. Consider, for example, whether the two girls have equal status both with each other and with the boys who are mentioned. Do the two fathers have equal social standing? How do you know? Where does Mr Wong fit in the social hierarchy in relation to Adelaide's father and to Minna's father? Where do you think the police might fit in the pyramid? Where do you think the mothers of the girls might fit?
  • Have students imagine they are either Minna or Adelaide. Ask them to think about how they would feel after hearing Mr Wong speak about the loss of his precious box. Discuss the feelings they would experience and the consequences they think would be most appropriate to help make amends for upsetting Mr Wong. Finally, have each student complete question 3 in Student Activity Sheet E15.9: Owning up by imagining they are either Adelaide or Minna. Ask them to write about what they did to upset Mr Wong, the consequences that followed and how this made them feel. Ask them to also write about why they prefer the other girl's father.
  • Ask students to work individually to answer the question: If you had a special box, what would be the three most precious things it would contain? Ask each student to use a slideshow presentation to display their special box and then reveal its precious contents one by one.


Student Activity Sheet E15.8: Owning up

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