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Week 29: Discipline and Punishment

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 29: Discipline and Punishment ]

We visit the Africaine this week to meet young Margaret Clark. Margaret is a servant girl for the Gouger family and she often finds herself in trouble! This week is no exception as Margaret has just bitten another servant girl on the arm until she drew blood and left teeth marks in the girl’s skin. The captain decides to punish Margaret by ordering one of the stewards to cut off the hair from one side of Margaret’s head. Margaret, however, thinks that this is a huge joke and laughs and talks to the steward while he cuts her hair. Gouger plans to leave Margaret at the Cape of Good Hope under the protection of the Children’s Friend Society in exchange for another girl. Do you think these consequences¬† are appropriate¬† for Margaret’s behaviour? This week we will investigate discipline onboard our ships and find out what happens when passengers do not follow the rules.


Scene: hair cutting at sea

<p>hair cutting at sea. Edward Snell, 1849</p>

Inquiry Questions:

  • How were passengers expected to behave onboard? Were the rules the same for everyone?
  • How were rules and behaviour expectations communicated to passengers?
  • What were the consequences for breaking rules or behaving in an unacceptable manner?
  • What was the role of servant girls onboard? How did their work at sea compare to a servant's life on land?
  • Who was responsible for the discipline of passengers and how were decisions made about punishment and consequences?

Research Topics:

  •  What was the role of servants in England in 1836?
  • What types of people became servants and who did they work for?
  • What types of rules and discipline were servants expected to adhere to and what were the consequences for behaving inappropriately?
  • What rights did servants have in 1836 and what were the responsibilities of their employers?

Historical Skills:

Chronology, terms and concepts

Investigate what the term 'Victorian England' means. Use a timeline to show when the Victorian era was and key events that happened around the world during that time.  

Develop a class glossary of words related to this inquiry such as punishment, consequences, discipline, servant  etc.

Historical questions and research
The Children's Friends Society was first established in London in 1830 to help children who were living on the streets, in prisons and in workhouses. The society aimed to shelter, rehabilitate, educate and train the children so that they could become productive members of society and and find appropriate work. It became very difficult for the Children's Friends Society to find appropriate places for children to live and work in London and many children were sent to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, Australia and Canada. Use these records from the Children's Friends Society to research some of the reasons children ended up in the care of the society. Where did they come from, what kind of work had they been doing, how had they been treated and what types of crimes or offences did they commit?
Analysing and using sources
Read Gouger's account of the incident with Margaret Clark. Why do you think Gouger asked  the Captain to deal with the punishment? How would Margaret, the other servant ,the steward who had to cut Margaret's hair or the captain describe the incident?
Perceptions and interpretation
Choose one of the children listed in the records of the Children's Friends Society and read their story. How do you think this story would be told if the child was asked to tell it.
Explanation and Communication
Design a face book page for one of the children you read about in the Children's Friends Society records. Who would be their friends, which groups would they belong to and what causes would they like?

Activity Suggestions:

1. Design a board game which demonstrates the behavioural expectations and rules onboard our ships. Your game should clearly show rules and the consequences for behaving inappropriately. How many spaces what Margaret Clark have to go back for biting the other servant? What kind of behaviour would earn you an extra roll of the dice? Test your game out with other people in your class.

2. Since our ships began their voyages our weekly posts have reported the following incidents-

- servant bites another servant's arm and draws blood

-passenger throws another passenger's cat overboard

-crew refuses to work because they don't think they have been paid properly

-passengers fail to keep the steerage area clean

-ship's carpenter keeps a supply of nails to himself that belongs to the ship's provisions

-passengers get into a physical fight over a long standing disagreement

-Gouger lets his goats roam freely on the deck

-passengers steals food rations

Read through this list of accusations that have been made. Place the incidents in order of how serious you think they are. If you were asked to issue logical consequences for each of these behaviours, what would they be?

3. Look through a current local newspaper and collect articles that report on crimes and punishments. Create a chart to show some of the sentences, fines and other consequences that have been given to people who have broken the law. Make observations about how this compares to discipline and punishment in 1836.

4.Investigate the laws that people lived by  in England in Victorian times. How were people expected to behave and what were the consequences of breaking the law or behaving inappropriately ?

5. Why do you think Margaret Clark bit the other servant? Work in a group to create a short play showing what you think might have happened leading up to this incident. Whose point of view will your play focus on?

6.In many ways  people in 1836 lived their daily lives differently to the way we live now. Read through the diaries that show the way a typical Victorian English family lived. Imagine you are a child living in this family. How do you think you would be expected to behave and what chores do you think you would have? Consider what the consequences would be if you didn't do your chores or behaved inappropriately. How does this compare to your life now?

7. Consider the rules and behavioural expectations that you live by in 2011. Use a Venn Diagram to compare the rules and expectations in different parts of your life. For example: school, sports practice, home, clubs.

What if?

What do you think would happen if Margaret had bitten someone other than another servant? How do you think the consequences would have changed if she had bitten a wealthy passenger, a crew member, a steerage passenger or herself?

What do you think?

Consider the following statement and form your own opinion:-

It would be good to have a servant to do all the jobs that I don't like doing.

Stay Tuned

Next week we will take a look at some of the equipment and inventions that are being used onboard the Buffalo. How did the technology available in 1836 influence the way people were able to light their cabins, filter their water, cook their food and complete other daily tasks?

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