Sunday Too Far Away – writing stimulus and related text

My Writing for Life presentation was designed to encourage a creative re-think for students who choose the English Studies course in Stage 6. In particular, the mandatory Year 11 module Achieving through English rubric alerts us to the need for students to explore English and the worlds of education, careers and community. The key verbs and modes (from a number of syllabus modules) include the requirement for students:

  • to reflect on, discuss and/or write
  • in planning, drafting, writing and editing accurately and appropriately
  • to develop knowledge and understanding of a number of literary texts
  • to develop an imaginative and / or personal piece of writing
  • to create a digital narrative that represents an aspect of personal, vocational, fictional or other experience
  • to engage in reading, writing and responding to a range of texts to explore and reflect on the nature of relationships

Sunday Too Far Away, directed by Ken Hannam, was released in 1975 and explores the gritty lifestyle of shearers facing challenges to their working conditions. This film also makes a suitable related text for the HSC Standard English Module A: Experience through Language – Distinctively Visual, specifically Henry Lawson’s short stories. Note how the landscape shots portray a harsh environment that produces a range of human responses. Consider, too, the mise en scene of the shearer’s quarters and living conditions, their masculine behaviours and cruel humour. These elements are found in Lawson’s descriptions of working men found in The Loaded Dog and The Bush Undertaker, as well as In a Dry Season.

Consider how an unexpected workplace, such as the shearing shed of 1950s Australia, could be an effective writing stimulus for students. Watching the trailer, or individual scene sequences, might suit some students – a series of screenshots allows students to construct and re-construct a narrative. Each shot could be explored and described, representing a specific plot point or paragraph. Students could be challenged to supplement their ideas by drawing from a ‘lucky dip’ of language features. Students could also cut up a worksheet of images and re-arrange the sequence to create a more sophisticated narrative of flashbacks or foreshadowed moments.

What might be the workplace story for this series of images from the movie?




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