Examining the lives of historical figures to help us affect change: Activity 2

  1. Invite students to use the jigsaw-approach from Activity 1 to explore the life of another famous Australian who effected change. Students may select from the following list of historical figures:

    • Vida Goldstein
    • Caroline Chisholm
    • Mary Gilmore
    • Louisa Lawson
    • Mary Lee
    • Peter Lalor
    • Henry Parkes
    • Charles Perkins
    • Other (to be negotiated with the teacher).

    Possible sources of information to answer the Activity 1 questions again using a different historical figure include:

  2. Distribute a copy the Venn diagram – Comparing historical figures handout. Explain to students that they will need to compare the achievements, possible motivations and values reflected in Edith Cowan’s biographies to the biographical information they have used for their famous Australian. Students will also need to compare how both individuals affected the lives of Australians – then and now.

    It may be necessary to explain to students how to use a Venn diagram; that is:

    • The things that both people have in common are recorded in the overlapping section of the two circles.
    • The things that are unique to each person are recorded in the other part of each circle.
  3. Ask students to compare Edith Cowan and their famous Australian with at least one other group’s historical figure.

    Ask the students questions such as, did the biographies reveal similar:

    • achievements in terms of social, economic and political rights?
    • possible motivations for change?
    • values?
    • positive outcomes in the ways they affected the lives of Australians?
    Provide an opportunity for a representative from each group to report back to the rest of the class on the similarities (and differences) between the historical figures that have been found.


Ask students to reflect upon the following questions in their learning journal:

  • How did the historical figures effect change?
  • How might examining the lives of historical figures help us effect change? Provide at least two specific examples.

Introduction | Activity One | Activity Two