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SUBJECTS — Australia; the Stolen Generation; Aborigines;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Human Rights; Courage;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Respect.
Age: 10+; MPAA Rating: PG (for emotional thematic material); Drama; 95 minutes; Color.
This is the true story of three half-caste Aboriginal girls who refuse to be swept up in Australia's Stolen Generation. Taken from their mothers' arms and shipped off to a government boarding school, they run away and begin a journey home that will take them hundreds of miles through Australia's outback. The film accurately portrays Australian policy toward children of mixed white and Aboriginal blood during the first half of the 20th century.
The TeachWithMovies.com Learning Guide shows how to use Rabbit-Proof Fence to teach human rights and acquaint children with the history of Australia, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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It wasn't just the U.S. decimating the Native Americans and it wasn't just the Nazis seeking to eliminate certain racial and ethnic groups. The Australians have their own attempted genocide. The Australians sought to breed out the Aborigine traits. Rabbit-Proof Fence and the story of the Stolen Generations shows another example of human rights violations on a massive scale.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To give you a sense of how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to develop lesson plans, and by parents to supplement school curriculum or for homeschooling, we have set out below the first two sections of the Learning Guide to Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Description: During the first half of the 20th century, the government of Australia took children of mixed Aboriginal/white origins from their homes, trained them in boarding schools, and sent them to work in white communities. Most of the children never saw their parents again. The purpose was to break up mixed families, teach the children "civilized" ways, and absorb them, culturally and genetically, into white society. This movie is the true story of three young girls who ran away from boarding school at the Moore River Settlement. Living off the land and on handouts, they eluded trackers and the police for months.
Benefits: Rabbit-Proof Fence will acquaint children with a shameful chapter of Australian history and invite comparisons to the experiences of other countries, including the United States. For example, the Australian policies bore a striking resemblance to the treatment of Native American children by the United States. Interesting comparisons can be drawn to the modern day reaction of Australia and the U.S. to these legacies. Other comparisons can be drawn between the Australian government's plan to eliminate half-caste Aborigines through dilution of their Aboriginal genes and the Nazi policies (during the same time period) of eliminating minority populations (Jews, gypsies, political opponents, etc.) through extermination or, in the case of the Poles, limiting their calorie intake to a level that did not permit reproduction. Other comparisons can be made between the Australian policies and recent attempted genocides in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.
The Learning Guide to the film Rabbit-Proof Fence contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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