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Focus question 2: What were the arguments for and against Federation?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: Introducing the arguments (60 min) ESL Activity 1
Activity 2: A letter to the Federation Herald (40-60 min) ESL Activity 2

Handout 3
Stories Destiny

Activity 1: Introducing the arguments (60 min)

1a View the 'Creating a Nation' segment on the Discovering Democracy Primary Video. This segment provides a brief overview of some of the main arguments for and against federation.

1b Students working in pairs should discuss the ideas presented on Handout 3. They should cut up the sheet and sort them into arguments for and against federation.

1c Part 1 of the interactive 'The People Make a Nation' on the Stories of Democracy CD ROM provides further details on the reasons for and against federation. Student groups of two or three can view the narrative and download ideas using the notebook facility. Alternatively, sources can be printed from the CD ROM prior to the lesson for student use. The One Destiny! CD ROM provides further information and sources on the arguments for and against federation.

Activity 2: A letter to the Federation Herald (40-60 min)

If it is possible to find reproductions or samples of papers from around this period, display them as models.

2a Introduce the Federation Herald by asking students to suggest ways people heard the news in the nineteenth century.

2b Use examples of modern newspapers to point out some of the features of newspapers such as lead articles, headlines, features, editorials, letters to the editor, advertisements and public notices.

2c Display Handout 1 as a model for students to create their own letters to the editor either for or against federation.

The letters should:
Handout 1

  • be brief (one or two paragraphs)
  • open by stating the writer's purpose or position
  • address at least one argument either for or against federation supported by evidence
  • reflect the writer's personal feelings on the topic
  • call for some action to be undertaken.

2d Encourage students to publish the letters for display. Students could use the notebook facility on the Stories of Democracy CD ROM to compose their letters by drawing on source material provided in 'The People Make a Nation' interactive.

Further activity

Students can prepare replies to the initial letters to counter the arguments.


Collect student letters and assess according to the following criteria. The student can:

  • present a logical and clear argument for or against federation
  • support the argument with evidence
  • portray an appropriate perspective.

ESL activities

Back to 'The People Make a Nation - At a glance'

AcknowledgementsLegal Information