Learning Resources Bank

Comprehension and analysis of three short primary documents depicting contrasting views

Provide students with three documents that give contrasting views of whether the convicts were slaves. For instance short primary documents all composed in 1838 with one by an official, one by a convict employer and one by a convict. Provide short answer questions on the documents to elicit their identification of bias.

Comments: The three documents give contrasting views as to whether or not the convicts were slaves. Despite this, many students agree with the positions put forward in all three sources and become confused by the sneering tone used by the convict employees. Good students grasps the self interest driving each document and appreciate the need to look beyond the claims each author makes before drawing a conclusion about convict work and experiences.