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Curtin University
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library
Curtin University Library

Interpreting cartoons and photographs

Cover of Cartoon PD Package

Cartoon PD in a Package

Suitable for years 10-12. A freely downloadable resource which assists teachers and students to interpret cartoons. The resource offers:

  • An introduction to the process and terminology used in cartoon interpretation;
  • A comprehensive description of two new techniques for interpreting cartoons - Chunking and Scaffolding;
  • 6 cartoons interpreted via the scaffolding technique along with background information and activities;
  • 6 cartoons interpreted via the chunking technique along with background information and activities.
Detail from cartoon 'Exelsior' by Ted Scorfield

Political Cartoon Interpretation

Suitable for years 10-12. Based on the resource Aspirations of a Working Class Man which explores how John Curtin used his wartime prime ministership to implement Labor programs in the areas of economic reform, social services and immigration, education, public broadcasting, and foreign policy. Political cartoons provide sharp commentary throughout the resource. The activity offers:

  • 3 cartoons with background notes, guided interpretation activities and sample answers for students;
  • Background notes and instructions for teachers to interpret the 3 cartoons using scaffolding and chunking techniques, along with questions and sample answers.

'Your turn next. ' World War I pro-conscription campaign publicity

Homefront Activity (Interpretation of cartoons, posters & photographs)

Suitable for years 10-12. Based on the online exhibition John Curtin, A Man of Peace, A Time of War which explores John Curtin's life and his role as Australia's prime minister in World War Two. The activity offers:

  • general questions about the homefront in World War Two;
  • 3 cartoon interpretation questions;
  • a question about interpretating recruitment posters;
  • a photograph interpretation question;
  • Sample answers which can be checked online for all questions.
The express train from Perth to Kalgoorlie - 'The Westland'  (Australian Railway Historical Society)

Crossword Puzzle (Interpretation of photographs)

Suitable for years 5-9 and 10-12. Based on the resource On Track: Curtin's Railway Journeys which explores John Curtin's lifelong link with train travel, from 1917 when the trans Australia line first spanned the continent until the mid 1940s.The activity offers:

  • 25 images (mainly photographs) with accompanying information;
  • crossword questions which relate to interpreting the images;
  • A completed crossword which can be checked online.
Detail from "1946 Repeats Itself - Chifley Spells Security."

Look Ever Forward - Post War Reconstruction (Quiz & cartoon interpretation)

Suitable for years 10-12. Based on the online exhibition Shaping the Nation: John Curtin and Australia which follows the development of John Curtin's political thinking and career while tracing the development of Australia from Federation to full nationhood. The activity offers:

  • general questions about post war reconstruction in Australia;
  • guided questions relating to interpreting 2 cartoons from the early post war period;
  • sample answers which can be checked online for all questions.