Why might we want to create a different interpretation of life in the workhouse?

Learning Objectives

  • Why the purpose of an educational film will affect its content / style.
  • What factors would make an educational documentary successful


Possible Teaching Objectives

  • Using the three cards left over, pupils discuss what other type or style of interpretation of life in the workhouse we might need. Why might a different purpose affect the way it is made? What should one for educating for people your age be like? What factors are important? (e.g. historical accuracy, educational value, etc.)
  • Pupils watch and analyse the start of a documentary to see how it differs from the films they have just seen. (The analysis sheet listed in the resources column may be used in support of this activity).They examine the information contained in it and the direction style used, such as location, actors, sources, etc. Subsequent class discussion should also compare it to the films and how their purpose and audience affect the content and how this then affects their usefulness.
  • Discuss with pupils which of the original sources of evidence about workhouses Dickens might have used to include in his story of Oliver Twist. This makes the point that evidence can be used selectively to support a point of view about life in the workhouse.


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  • Pupils create the plan for a trailer to a documentary for primary-school children from Victorian workhouses using the workhouse documentary trailer-planning sheet listed in the resources column. Using ICT, students plan what the trailer will show in terms of images (choose from the original sources). Along side this they will provide a one-minute commentary for the trailer. They must consider carefully how it will be different from the films in the context of its purpose and audience.
  • These can then be recorded and/or displayed to the class for peer assessment. Consider how is it different? Why? What clues are there to purpose and audience?


Learning outcomes

  • Use their understanding of the differences in purpose of films in order to plan the contents of one for education.
  • Show understanding of the reasons why the documentary needs to be different.


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