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Suggested Answers to Discussion Questions for
Learning Guide to "RABBIT-PROOF FENCE"


Some Specific Questions:

1.  [Standard Questions Suitable for Any Film]. No suggested Answers.

2.  If a society attempts to integrate a native culture into the dominant culture without losing important aspects of the native culture, how does the society determine what parts of the native culture to keep and what parts of the dominant culture to adopt? Who decides? Suggested Response: There is no one correct response to this question and, in fact, for every native culture there is a different balance. The process of adopting dominant cultural values is called assimilation. The ultimate choice is made by each individual but they are subject to strong forces ranging from the attractiveness of certain aspects of the dominant culture to downright coercion.

3.  If a society attempts to integrate a minority culture into the dominant culture without losing important aspects of the minority culture, how does the society determine what parts of the native culture to keep and what parts of the dominant culture to adopt? Who decides? Suggested Response: See response to preceding question. It has been the observation of the author of this Learning Guide that often in discussions on this topic in the United States too much emphasis is placed on cultural differences between the minorities and there is an inadequate acknowledgement of what the members of various minorities have more in common with the dominant culture. No society wants to be in the "pluralistic" position of countries like Iraq and Turkey (and many others) in which the various subcultures hate and kill each other.

4.  Should there be a difference in the response to the two preceding questions. In other words, should the question of assimilation be different for immigrant minorities and native peoples who have become a minority? Suggested Response: Arguably, native cultures, which have been conquered and which did not make a voluntary choice to come to the country should have more independence from the dominant culture.

5.  Do you think the girls could have really walked all that way? Suggested Response: They actually did it; not once, but twice. They were recaptured, sent back to the boarding school, escaped again, and made it home again.

6.  Was the scene where the mothers were chasing the car with their children in it realistic? Do you think things like that really happened? Suggested Response: It really happened. The official report of the Australian Civil Rights Commission contains an eyewitness account of an incident very similar to the one shown in the movie.

Social-Emotional Learning

HUMAN RIGHTS

1.  Review the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What was wrong with what the Australians were doing with the half-caste children? Suggested Response: See sections 1-10,16, 22 and 26(2) and 26(3).

2.  Compare the Australian policy of "biological absorption" with the boarding schools for Native American children established in the U.S. Suggested Response: We are not experts in this. However, it appears that there was no systematic effort to dilute the Native American gene pool by isolating the female children into situations in which they would be seduced or raped by white men. There were no systematic efforts to keep the Native Americans away from the reservations after their schooling was complete. Otherwise they appear to be pretty much the same.


Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.

RESPECT

(Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don't threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)


1.  Did the "biological absorption" program treat the half-caste children with respect? Explain the reasons supporting your answer. Suggested Response: No. It applied one approach to them with no distinction between those who might benefit from schooling outside the home and those who would not. It did not respect that portion of their heritage that was Aboriginal.

2.  Could you design a policy to educate half-caste children living with Aboriginal mothers so that they could advance in the Australian economy and yet respect their Aboriginal heritage? Suggested Response: There is no one right answer to this question. It is designed to show how hard a task the Australian government faced.

3.  Should the U.S. have a National Sorry Day to apologize to Native Americans or the descendants of African slaves? Would that be better than allowing the Native American to establish gambling casinos all over the country or paying out reparations? Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer to this question. A well reasoned response would point out the following. Allowing the Native Americans to make a lot of money by owning casinos and gambling establishments is not an apology. Both the Native Americans and the Aborigines were dispossessed of their land. The whites have no intention of returning this land, so an apology for taking the land while keeping it would be very hypocritical.

4.  In what way is Australia's National Sorry Day and its Sorry Book similar to South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission? How is it different? Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer to this question. A well reasoned response would point out the following similarities: In both, the crimes were wide-ranging and an apology from a large segment of the community was required. Differences include the seriousness of the crimes over which the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission had jurisdiction (murder, torture) which were not part of the "biological absorption" policy. Another difference is that the majority in South Africa is black and for the most part was not implicated in the crimes which led to the need for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


Last updated April 2, 2008.






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