Teacher Notes for The Courage of Ordinary Men

Teacher notes
The Courage of Ordinary Men
This exhibition provides a unique and valuable opportunity for students to utilise three
personal stories to investigate the themes associated with World War 1 and the Victoria Cross.
During a visit, students will:
Develop a broad overview of the experiences of the Western Front during World War
Understand the history and significance of the Victoria Cross and the meaning behind
the words For Valour.
Realise that war involves ordinary people and that each soldier has a personal story to
Browse below for activities for before, during and after your visit to the exhibition. For further
ideas, information or on-line resources, visit Education (www.awm.gov.au/education/) at the
Australian War Memorial.
Visiting as a group
Entry to this exhibition is FREE.
Student preparation prior to entry is recommended. Please view Teacher Notes.
Please enter in small groups, as the exhibition is quite compact.
Queensland Curriculum Links
This exhibition support components of the Queensland Curriculum Essential Learnings in a
number of ways.
• The suggested before, during and after visit activities listed in this document follow a
number of strategies to engage students in the Ways of Working component of the
Essential Learnings.
• Below are listed the organisers within the Knowledge and Understanding components of
the Essential Learnings that relate to the exhibition.
Years 1-9
• SOSE: Time, Continuity and Change; Place and Space; Culture and Identity; Political
and Economic Systems.
• Technology: Technology as a Human Endeavour, Information Materials and Systems
Senior Syllabus
• Social Sciences: Modern History
© Queensland Museum 2009
Before your visit
Explore the history and themes of World War 1 from both the Allies’ and the Central
Powers’ perspective.
Examine various maps and locations associated with World War 1, with a specific
focus on The Western Front. Plot a path of a major advance.
Explore the political landscape that led up to, and during, World War 1, including the
concept and value of alliances.
Reflect on Australia’s population and origins during 1914 and explore Australia’s
relationship to Great Britain. Compare this to the present day.
Discuss the general mood in Australia about going to war and appreciate the various
reasons why people did or didn’t volunteer to go to war.
Examine war propaganda and discuss its influence.
Compare the different roles of people in the AIF including the role of women. Choose
one role and explore basic training, travelling overseas and role at the front and behind
the front line.
Read on our web site the story of one of the men featured in the exhibition: Paddy
Bugden, Robert Beatham, and Blair Wark.
Investigate images of World War 1; the landscape, the warfare and the soldiers and
discuss emotions and questions the images evoke. Imagine and describe a photo
taken immediately before and after the selected image.
Discuss what is meant by material evidence.
Write questions you would like answered about World War 1 and questions you would
like answered about individual soldiers.
Utilise a range of resources on-line or purchased from our Museum Explorer Shop.
During your visit
View original film footage and experience a sound and light show, while reflecting on
and imagining life in the trenches on the Western Front.
View up close three priceless Victoria Crosses. Think about the meaning of the words
For Valour.
Examine the evidence – written, photographic, and in the form of material objects –
that tells the story. Look particularly at Paddy Bugden’s letters and the picture they
give, in his own words, of life on the Western Front.
Develop an appreciation of the lives of three ordinary but courageous men and learn
about the brave deeds that led to their Victoria Cross citations.
Compare the stories of the three men and reflect on any similarities and differences.
Imagine their reasons for volunteering for war.
Imagine how different life was for the soldier both at the front and away from the front,
compared with their life back in Australia. What changes would they have
Be reminded of the ways war is commemorated in our society by reflecting on the
significance of Poppies.
© Queensland Museum 2009
After your visit
Read up on a story of a World War 1 soldier from Australia and one from the Central
Powers. Write a journal entry or letter to family from the perspective of this soldier.
Explore trench warfare and understand the main features of this warfare. Discuss
differences between the theory and the reality of this warfare and how successful it
was. Empathise with soldiers fighting and living in these conditions.
Identify an Australian VC recipient from the Australian War Memorial*
(www.awm.gov.au/) website. Draft up interview questions you would like to have asked
them. Research their story to answer these questions.
Discuss the characteristics and meaning of bravery, courage and hero.
Critically reflect on various types of material evidence and the type presented in the
exhibition. How can you determine the credibility of this evidence?
Trace your family history back to 1914 – 1918. Examine what your family would have
been doing at the time. On which side of the war was your family?
Investigate the stereotype and image of the Aussie Digger. Compare this to images
portrayed of the enemy. Discuss these images versus reality.
Examine the outcomes of World War 1, including the casualties and the impacts on
society. Identify issues faced by the returning soldier. Discuss if Australia has a duty of
care in regards to these soldiers.
Identify different ways we commemorate those soldiers who have gone to war. What
symbols do we use to commemorate? Understand the meaning and purpose of this
Discuss an Australian involved conflict from the last 60 years. What would influence
you to volunteer to go to war today? Justify your decision.
View modern images and footage of war. How does the media influence our feelings
and decisions about war?
© Queensland Museum 2009