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On the death of Ronald Ryan

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Bich Nguyen

on 27 October 2014

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Transcript of On the death of Ronald Ryan

On the death of Ronald Ryan

Ronald Ryan's background
The role played by the then Victorian premier Sir Henry Bolte in the hanging of Ronald Ryan
Now view the poem. Write down 2 questions you have about it on given post-its.

Share your questions with your partner and try answering his/her questions. (5 minutes)
the purpose of the clip

the viewpoint of the creators of the clip in relation to the death of Ronald Ryan

the voices and views that are privileged and silenced  in the clip

Look at these pictures.
What do you think they are about?

Do you think capital punishment still exists in Australia?
Context literally means ‘with text’. This includes the social and historical context of a text as well as the contexts for its reading, hearing and viewing: who interacts with it, where, when and why.

Watch Ronald Ryan's escape:
As you watch, take notes of the answers to these questions in your journal:
1. Where did the escape happen?
2. When did it happen?
3. How did it happen?
4. Who were Peter Walker, George Hodson, and Robert Paterson?
5. How was Ryan re-captured?
Share your answers in pairs/groups. (3 mins)
Ronald Ryan's hanging
Re-reading the poem ‘On the Death of Ronald Ryan’
identifying poetic techniques
explaining their effect
Complete the handout individually (4 mins). Share your answers in groups of four.
Work in pairs.
After discussing, stick your post-it notes on the given wallchart so that a collection of questions can be created for the whole class. These questions will be addressed as we examine the poem and the context. (3 minutes)
What are your views on capital punishment?
Do you think we should “
kill people who kill people to show that killing is wrong
(5 minutes)
(7 minutes)
(15 mins)
(2.5 mins)
Write your thoughts in your journal. (5 mins)
(7 mins)
Capital punishment was last used in Australia in 1967 when Ronald Ryan was hanged in Victoria.
An estimated 18,000 people participated in street protests and 15,000 signed a petition against the hanging. The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) suspended radio broadcasts for two minutes as a protest.
Contemporary Australian poet Bruce Dawe composed the poem
On the death of Ronald Ryan
in 1968 to voice his opinions on this socio-political protest.
Born: February 15, 1930 (age 84)
(5 mins)
(Number of people of voting age in Victoria in 1967: 1.7million)

I dreamt you stood upon the trap of the world,
the rope of your forty-one years
around your neck,
your fugitive days, your prison days, the days of your trial ended.
You waited there for word of your last appeal,
the one no lawyer in the land could make
and only God uphold.
The morning sunburst beat on the dusty glass
with fists of gold.
I dreamt you stood
white-faced beneath your hood
above the lime-pit and the namelessness.
Annealed, un-tranquillised,
scorning a final statement
— however you lived, I dreamt that day you died
with far more dignity than the shabby ritual
which killed you gave you credit for. You died
most horrifyingly like a man.

Bruce Dawe (1930– )
On the Death of Ronald Ryan

1. What is the position of those signing in support of the petition?
2. What did the decrease in support of capital punishment indicate?
3. What is one main argument for why capital punishment should be
4. What do we learn about Ronald Ryan from this petition?

A petition signed in 1967 was sent to Sir Henry Bolte, the then Victoria premier. Read the petition (handout) silently and answer these questions in your journal (10 mins):

Work in groups of 3-4 and share your opinions.
Theme identification
Read the poem again. Which lines project each of the following themes:
Opposition to capital punishment
(10 mins)
(5 mins)
Do you think it's easy to escape from this prison?
Security features: motion sensors, CCTV, barred windows, high walls, barbed wire (or sometimes razor wire) and electric fencing to prevent escapes
(2 mins)
(2 mins)
How did Ryan escape?
Watch and match the images you see in the clip with those projected in the poem.
Examine Ryan's background and personality from different people's perspectives:
His wife
The escapee
The police
Watch and take notes of 2 things that each person said about Ronald Ryan.

As you read the petition, you might wonder why Sir Henry Bolte was so adamant about hanging Ronald Ryan. Explore his political motives.
(7 mins)
Look at the poem again to help you with your questions.

Quick review of some common poetic techniques
(10 mins)
Evaluation: Guilty or innocent?
According to the police, there were finally three verbal confessions by Ryan saying that he had shot prison warder George Hodson. None was signed by Ryan, who only signed documents saying that he would give no verbal testimony.
Was there enough evidence to conclude that Ryan killed prison warder George Hodson?
the purpose of the video clip

the viewpoint of the creators of the clip in relation to the death of Ronald Ryan

the voices and views that are privileged and silenced  in the clip

Rewriting the poem
Adapt the poem to create a new poem (about 10 lines) on a familial, political or social issue that is significant to you. Use some simple poetic techniques we have explored.
(30 mins)
Read the handout about the trial.
Think - Pair - Share
Revisiting capital punishment
Are you for or against capital punishment? Brainstorm and list all your arguments.
Full transcript