Founding the ALP

[Episode 12 | 1898 : Rowley]

Rowley and Tom Müller visit Mr Merry when he is convening a meeting of the newly formed Labor Party. They are discussing the development of a new brickworks and are concerned with protecting the rights, health and safety of workers. Rowley and his mother discuss Rowley's father and his employment at the brickworks.


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: Being literate
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Subtheme(s): Gender roles and stereotypes; Social order and education
  • In this clip, Rowley is surprised to learn from his mother that his father could neither read nor write. Ask students to discuss the implications for Rowley's family of his father's illiteracy? What does literacy enable one to do?

  • In Australia at this time, universal education was becoming a reality for working-class children. It was a time when there was a call for public education. Ask students to write a letter to the editor of an 1898 newspaper, advocating universal education. In the letter, they should state the reasons why they believe everyone deserves the right to be taught to read and write. They may cite examples of stories from the My Place series to support their argument.


Activity 2: Hero or breadwinner?
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Subtheme(s): Character; Social order and education
  • As a class, discuss what Rowley's mother might have meant when she told him, 'Heroes don't put food on the table.'
  • Ask students to think about this and what it may mean for the way the story is being told so far? Have students answer these questions:
  1. What constitutes a hero?
  2. Was Rowley a hero? Why or why not?
  3. Why do some people think that Rowley's father is a hero?
  4. Do you think he is a hero? Why or why not?
  • Ask students to explain why they think Rowley's mother is so angry with her husband. Have students think about and look for clues in the clip that might explain how she is providing for her family now that her husband has gone.

  • Write a dialogue between Rowley's mother and the brickworks' manager, describing the effects of the absence of her husband on her family during the past few years. Have the manager take the point of view that he is not responsible for their problems.
  • Students could also research what support would be available for a single parent supporting their family today and compare these support systems with what was available in 1898. Have students think about why these conditions may have changed over the past 100 years.


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