Through Whose Eyes? Aboriginal and European Perspectives in Literature

3. Analysing Different Perspectives or Points of View

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To use inference to identify and discuss different perspectives in a text

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can suggest how the characters thought and felt
  • I can use my knowledge of cultural and historical contexts to guide my thinking
  • I can provide evidence to justify my thinking
  • Marsden, J., and Tan, S., The Rabbits
  • T-Chart: docx PDF
  • Visual Organiser for Assessment Task: docx PDF

It is strongly recommended that teachers review all suggested stimulus texts prior to their use to ensure their appropriateness and to enable rich, respectful discussion. For guidance on text selection refer to the Teaching and Learning Resources — Selecting Appropriate Materials policy.

In addition, it is suggested that teachers refer to these guidelines around establishing a safe & culturally respectful classroom in the ‘Before you use this sequence’ section of the resource.

Guide students to conduct an inquiry into the word ‘perspective’ by:

  • Asking students what they think ‘perspective’ means.
  • Ask if any students can say perspective in another language.

Provide the following definition:

“A person’s perspective is their point of view, the position from which they see and understand events going on around them.” 

A fuller definition of ‘perspective’ is provided in the Glossary to the History Curriculum.

Encourage discussion of the word and invite students to co-create a class definition.

Discuss the words colonisation and invasion using the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the Europeans on the First Fleet.

Ask students what the following words have in common: aspect, inspect, circumspect, perspective, respect.

Model using a resource such as to discover the history and root of the word ‘perspective’:

  • spek – to observe; Latin, specere – to look at

Discuss how the words aspect, inspect, circumspect, perspective, respect share a Latin root that provides insight into the meaning of each word.

Peter Bowers, the Canadian educator and scholar, has written guidance on structured word inquiry.

Guide discussion applying the concept of perspective to The Rabbits. For example, you could ask:

  • What are the possible different perspectives of the two character groups in the text: the rabbits and the indigenous animals?
  • How do the illustrations help the reader to see the different perspectives?

Examine one page of the text, using a think-aloud strategy  and/or a see, think, wonder to explicitly demonstrate how to develop alternative points of view. Use a tool such as a T chart to record students’ thinking. A sample T chart is provided in Materials and texts.

Review the previous learning about the Rabbits. Invite students to form collaborative pairs and encourage them to re-read, discuss and develop the different perspectives of the rabbits and the indigenous animals in the book. A possible collaborative strategy could be for students to conduct partner interviews. For example, one student asks questions to elicit the perspectives of the rabbits, the other directs questions to ascertain the perspectives of the indigenous animals.

Suggest that students use a T chart to record each other’s thinking and ask questions to expand and clarify ideas. Question prompts could include differences about each group’s beliefs, their attitude to the land and the different use of the land and impressions of the ‘other’ as shown in the book.

Provide prompts to direct student thinking. For example:

  • Explain the events in the story and the impact on the rabbits and the indigenous animals.
  • Examine one event in detail and explore the varying perspectives of the characters.

Make connections/parallels between events in the text and historical events. Refer to historical timelines and information on early contact history, reminding students that the book is an interpretation of, and a metaphor for, historical events.

Ask questions to make connections to the big understandings of the sequence. For example:

  • Why would the rabbits chop down the trees? What was it they wanted from the land?
  • How might these actions have impacted on the indigenous animals?
  • How might they have felt about this?
  • Why is it important to consider different perspectives?

Enable students who may be having difficulty articulating their ideas by modelling the task, thinking aloud while formulating your responses and explicitly model how to connect and elaborate on ideas in the text. Rather than ask students to summarise the whole text from the perspectives of the two character groups, provide one page from the text for deep analysis. For example:

“They brought new food, and they brought other animals. We liked some of the food and we liked some of the animals. But some of the food made us sick and some of the animals scared us.”

Ask students to use these pages to answer questions such as:

  • The rabbits used land for farming and introduced new animals to the environment. How would that have helped the rabbits?
  • What might the impact have been on the indigenous animals?

Extend student thinking by asking them to consider how the illustrations in the text might influence the reader. For example, you could ask students to consider Shaun Tan’s use of ‘perspective’, colour, sizing, and angle.

Invite students to share the perspective they developed examining a particular page, for example:

“They ate our grass. They chopped down our trees and scared away our friends … and stole our children.”

Question prompts to generate discussion include:

  • How might the actions of the rabbits have affected the indigenous animals?
  • How might the characters have thought and felt about these events?
  • How is the text a metaphor for events in Australia’s past?
  • What do the actions and feelings of each group suggest about their cultural differences and their understanding of each other?

Distribute the T-Chart visual organiser and explain the assessment task.

Ask students to complete the visual organiser and demonstrate their understanding of how the characters thought and felt in the text, and how the text has been used to refer to different perspectives and past cultural and historical understandings.

Collect the student work and use the responses to assess how successfully the students used inference and explored the text from competing perspectives.

Bowers, P., 2008. Structured Word Inquiry. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Department of Health, Government of Western Australia, n.d. T and Y Charts. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2019. Project Zero: See, Think, Wonder. [Online] 
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Marsden, J. and Tan, S., 1998. The Rabbits, Lothian Books, Port Melbourne. 

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