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Focus question 1: What is ‘political activity’?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: People in the news ESL Activity 1
Activity 2: Political activity 1 ESL Activity 2
Activity 3: Political activity 2 ESL Activity 3
Activity 4: A political situation at school ESL Activity 4
Activity 5: A political situation in a factory ESL Activity 5
Activity 6: Celebrating politically active Australians ESL Activity 6

Activity 1: People in the news

For this activity, you should work in groups of three or four.

Take any newspaper and find at least eight articles about Australians. Cut out your articles and stick them on a large piece of poster paper. Leave some space on your poster so that you can add to it later. Under each article write:

Display your poster in the classroom.

Activity 2: Political activity 1

Your teacher will help you to organise a class discussion.

Each group should talk to the rest of the class about the articles on its poster. The whole class can then discuss whether each article is about ‘political activity’ or ‘non-political activity’, and justify their decisions.

Use the discussion to come to an agreement with your teacher about what is meant by ‘political activity’.

Write the definition in your personal glossary. Then write ‘political’ or ‘non-political’ under each article on your poster.

Activity 3: Political activity 2

Look at your poster again and make a list of all the people mentioned in the articles. Then copy a larger version of the table below into your workbook and fill in the spaces with the names on your list. When you have finished, you can also copy the table onto your poster.

The people in newspaper articles
People who are politically active
People who are not politically active
People who are famous    
People who are not famous    

Answer the following questions in your workbook:

3a Why do you think there are more names in some parts of the table than in others?

3b What are people famous for, if they are not politically active?

3c What are some of the things politically active people are trying to do?

3d Do politically active people work on their own, or do they belong to organisations? Make two lists of the organisations mentioned, under the headings ‘Political parties’ and ‘Other organisations’.

3e How many politically active people are parliamentarians? Make two lists, under the headings ‘Parliamentarians’ and ‘Non-parliamentarians’.

Activity 4: A political situation at school

Read the table below and discuss it with a partner. Think about whether it is a ‘political activity’, according to the definition you wrote in Activity 2.

A political situation: At the bus stop

The situation
After school, some students hang around a local bus stop.
People who want change
Some other people waiting for buses.
People who may not want change
Some students who hang around the bus stop.
Their reasons
They say students swear and push and shove.
They say some old people could have been knocked over.
Their reasons
They like meeting their friends and talking to them after school.
They say they’re not bothering anybody else.
Their strategy
Ask students to behave better.
Complain to the school principal.
Complain to the police.
Their strategy
If possible, do nothing.
Say it’s a misunderstanding.
Say they won’t bother anyone else in the future.
A good result for them
Teachers have to supervise the bus stop.
A good result for them
The fuss dies down.
A good result for both groups
Teachers do not always supervise the bus stop but walk past now and then.

With your partner, look again at your posters and choose a newspaper article about political activity. Make a blank copy of the grid above in your workbook, and use it to make a summary of the article. (You may not have enough information to fill in every part of the table.)

Then explain your work to another pair of students and discuss it with them. If necessary, make changes to your table.

Copy your table onto your original poster.

Activity 5: A political situation in a factory

Look at the following grid. It describes a political situation. Some parts of the table are not filled in. Copy the table into your workbook. Think about the missing parts of this table and work with your partner to complete it.

There are no ‘right’ answers - you just have to think of something that makes sense.

Your teacher will then help you explain your work to the rest of the class.

A political situation: In a factory

The situation
People who want change
People who work in the factory
People who may not want change
The people who own the factory.
Their reasons Their reasons
If they have to pay their workers more, the owners will not make as much money themselves. Perhaps it will not be worth running the factory at all.
Their strategy Their strategy
A good result for them A good result for them
A good result for both groups

Activity 6: Celebrating politically active Australians

We may not realise it, but the names of politically active Australians are all around us. Your school might even be named after one of them! Listed below you can see just a few of the ways we remember these people.

The ways we remember politically active Australians

Schools and universities
Alfred Deakin High School (ACT)
John Curtin Senior High School (WA)
Peter Lalor Secondary College (Vic)
Griffith University (Qld)
Parkes (NSW)
Gawler (SA)
Stirling (WA)
Serviceton (Vic)
Dunmore Lang statue (Sydney)
John Flynn memorial (Alice Springs)
Calwell (Vic)
Tangney (WA)
Fisher (Qld)
Hughes (NSW)
Lyons (Tas)
Kingston (SA)
Fraser (ACT)
Streets, highways and waterways
Tonkin Highway (Perth)
William Slim Drive (Canberra)
Whitlam Square (Sydney)
Franklin River (Tas)
Darling River (NSW)
Stamps and money
Caroline Chisholm (original $5 note, 1967)
Louisa Lawson (10c stamp, 1975)
Catherine Spence (10c stamp, 1975)
Enid Lyons & Dorothy Tangney (45c stamp, 1993)
Five wartime prime ministers (45c stamps, 1994)

National Philatelic Collection, Australia Post

National Philatelic Collection, Australia Post.
Copyright Australia Post. Alteration of this image in any way is forbidden.

6a Find out which places or things in your local area (or State or Territory) are named after politically active Australians. Ask your parents or people in your community for information. You could also ask at your local shire or municipality. Sometimes you can find statues or memorials to important people.

6b Bring your findings back to the classroom and make a class list.
Stories Parliament

6c Choose a person from your list or from ‘The ways we remember politically active Australians’ to research. You may find information in the ‘people’ section of the Stories of Democracy and the Parliament at Work CD ROMs or on Parliament@Work website. Your teacher will help you to find books, CD ROMs and Internet sites that have the information you need.

6d Copy a large version of the biography file below into your workbook. Fill it in with information about the person you have chosen. Under ‘Suggested memorial’ write a short description of the person that could be used as an inscription on a memorial stone, for example:

Emma Maloney
Fought for women’s rights
Friend to children and the poor
Joseph Rossetti
Mayor 1860-1930
He gave the city clean water
and preserved the people’s health

Biography file

Early life  
Political achievements  
Suggested memorial  

ESL activities

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