In Episode 4: 1978: Mike, the 'Tippy' and Mike's father are Vietnam veterans. Michaelis explains to Mike that the Tippy keeps to himself because of his experiences in the war. Many Vietnam veterans endured emotional, physical or psychological trauma during and after the war.
Ask students to explore the reasons why Australia became involved in the Vietnam War. As a class, create a poster fact sheet divided into two columns. The first column, titled 'Pre-war', will list the reasons why Australia became involved. The second column, titled 'Post-war', is for reasons why Australia withdrew troops from Vietnam.
Create a timeline highlighting Australia's involvement in the war and the main events, dates and people involved.
Ask students to find out from family members what they thought of Australia's involvement in the war and how they related to the returned soldiers. Students could interview these family members and record their memories as a social history with images or film clips.
Ask students to write an article for the local newspaper based on an interview with a Vietnam veteran, a protest organiser or an ALP politician elected when Whitlam was prime minister. The interview should outline the interviewee's thoughts and actions regarding the Vietnam War and the need to support veterans afterwards.
Invite students to listen to a guest speaker from the Returned and Services League (RSL). The RSL is a valuable community resource that supports returned service people. Contact the local RSL to find out if there are members willing to speak to the class about their experiences.
Alternatively, students may have a family member who would be willing to come to the classroom to speak.
Ask students to create a Y chart to describe the experiences of the soldiers who were fighting in Vietnam. Ask students to imagine the role of the soldier and write their responses in the Y chart using the three points below.
What does it look like?
What does it feel like?
What does it sound like?
Have students share their responses with the class.
Ask students to source a map of Vietnam and enlarge it twice so the detail of the country is evident on both maps. On the map, they should mark the key cities in Vietnam and the division of the country into North Vietnam and South Vietnam at the time of the war. Have students research the battles that Australians were involved in and pinpoint these places on the map. From their research they should write a short paragraph about each battle and add this to the map.
Ask students to find out which Australian soldiers were decorated for bravery during the Vietnam War, find images of them and write a paragraph on their exploits. Add this information to the map. Build information about Australia's participation by adding it to the map or a timeline.
On the second map, ask students to present information about Vietnam today. Emphasise that the information should reflect modern Vietnam, its industries, exports, government, education policies, culture and so forth. Ask students to find images that are associated with growth and prosperity, people and culture, cities and rural communities. They should also find out about Australia's relations with Vietnam today through business, education and aid. Ask them to reflect on the legacy of the Vietnam War.
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.
Encourage students to view and discuss the scene in Episode 4 where Michaelis explains that the Tippy wants to be on his own because of what happened to him during the war. As a class, discuss how Michaelis explains the Tippy's situation. Is Michaelis speaking as someone who knows what the Tippy is going through?
Many returned soldiers from the Vietnam War experienced non-physical problems following their deployment, but these were not recognised for a long time. One common stress-related disorder is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Encourage the students to research this illness and in particular what it means for people who suffer from it. Ask them to consider ways to help those affected by it.
Post -traumatic stress disorder has inflicted a number of Australian service people deployed in recent wars, and older soldiers are thought to have suffered from it too. Encourage students to find at least five facts on post-traumatic stress disorder and how the condition affects returned service people. Ask students to present their research as a poster for Mental Health Week.
Gender roles and stereotypes,Relationships
As a class, discuss the way Mike is feeling, particularly when he tells his father 'People don't like me either.' Ask students to reflect carefully on this conversation and in particular what Michaelis might mean when he says, 'Being popular is not such a great thing.'
Focus the students' attention on how Mike is portrayed in this scene. The clip ends with him standing alone as an outsider, even within his own family. Discuss reasons why the filmmaker chose to represent Mike in this way.
Michaelis, Mike's dad, tells his son he needs a 'true friend'. Discuss this with the class and ask students to write a wish list of what they think are the criteria for a 'true friend'. Ask them to rate both Ben and the Tippy as genuine friends of Mike.
Refer students to books about loners, loneliness and making friends such as Woolvs in the Sitee by Margaret Wild and Anna Spudvilas and Way Home by Libby Hathorn and Greg Rogers.
Ask students to write a wish list for their criteria of a 'true friend'. Have students compare similarities and differences of the main characters from the My Place series and nominate four characters who they would want to be friends with out of Laura, Mohammed, Lily, Mike, Sofia, Michaelis, Jen, Colum, Bridie, Bertie, Evelyn, Rowley and Victoria. Ask students to write down why they would choose these characters as friends.