Family, peer & academic pressures

Learning intention: In this lesson, you learn to identify situations which can cause stress in our lives, when to seek help, and where to go for support or advice.

Lesson duration: 60 - 90 minutes

Task 1 / Unseen pressures

Reflect

The final years of high school can be the most exciting and challenging and with that comes pressures from family, school and your peers. More Than This explores how these challenges intersect for each of our main characters. The show encourages us to never assume you know what is happening in someone else's life. 

As a class, discuss the following questions:

  • What are some common pressures high school students experience in their home, school and friendship circle? 
  • Do we ever really know what is going on in someone's life? 
  • How can we be supportive friends and peers for our friends when they are experiencing challenges in their lives?
  • Who can we turn to for help and support when we experience challenges and pressures in our lives?

Watch

Watch the opening scene of More Than This where we meet each of our five main characters, Charlotte, Alex, Jamie, Zali and Leon, as they wake up and get ready for school.

Reflect

What do we know about our five main characters from this opening scene? In groups, replicate the table below and write down what you have learnt about each character in the opening sequence. Think about what the creators of the show have chosen to show the audience. Look at the set design, their morning routines, their clothing, their homes and their families.

Charlotte

Alex

Jamie

Zali

Leon

- - - - -

Highlight the similarities you see in these characters as they prepare for school.

Watch

Watch the following scene that encourages the audience to compare the after school lives of each of the characters.

Reflect

Add another row to your table and add in the additional information we learn about our characters in this after school scene. In groups, use this table work through the following discussion points: 

  • Each of the characters have their own pressures after school. Do some characters seem to experience more pressures than others? What are they? 
  • Discuss how different pressures impact people in different ways. How do we start to see this in the after school scene?
  • Charlotte’s after school life is different to the other characters. She does not go home; she goes to her after school job. How would this create pressures in her life?

Create

As an extension homework task, film and edit a 30-second video montage of your before school or after school routine sharing snippets of your life. Make sure all the content is G rated.


Task 2 / School pressures

Reflect

The final years of highschool can be filled with pressure on academic performance. Each of the characters experience academic pressures: we see Charlotte completing her homework late at night after finishing her shift at work; we see Zali’s mental health severely impacted by the pressure for perfection put on herself by her father, teachers and family; we know that Alex is repeating a year of school due to his health, and we watch Leon and Jamie juggling social and school pressures.

As a class, brainstorm spaces where you can seek help and ways you can support others when school feels overwhelming.

Watch

Watch the following video where Nevo Zisin interviews More Than This creators Olivia Deeble and Luka Gracie to discuss balancing mental health and academic pursuits.

This video interview is courtesy of Minus18 and Paramount+.

Reflect

In groups, reflect on this interview, working through the following discussion points: 

  • What advice resonated from Olivia and Luka?
  • There were a range of tips shared in the interview to help combat stress and anxiety that can build up due to academic pressures. What were these tips? Do you incorporate any of these methods already?
  • Share methods you use to reduce stress related to academic pressure.
  • Share methods which you are aware of or want to try to reduce stress related to academic pressure.

Explore

The interview explores some great tips for combating stress and pressures from academic pursuits, including self-soothing and self-care. Read the resources available from Minus18 on self-soothing and self-care.

Minus18 | Self-soothing and self-care

Create & Reflect

Look forward in your calendar or planner for an upcoming week that may provide more pressure than usual. It may be a week when multiple assessments are due or when you have a test you are worried about. Create moments in your planner that make time for self-soothing and self-care activities to support your wellbeing.

After that week has gone, reflect on the self-soothing and self-care activities. Were you able to reduce any stress that week using these methods? If not, research other methods to support stress reduction caused by academic pressure and repeat the process above.


Task 3 / Family pressures

Watch

Watch the following two scenes where we see Jamie and Charlotte arguing with their parents.

“Mum, I am so lonely. I finally have friends but I can’t spend time with them because I have to be home with a ten year old. He needs you. I need you.” - Jamie

“We don’t really have another option…. It is simple. I’m doing it because you’re not.” - Charlotte

Reflect

In groups, analyse these scenes working through the following discussion points:

  • Compare the two relationships explored in these clips. Each hold their own pressures. What are the challenges Jamie and Charlotte address in the confrontation with their parents?
  • How is communication used in each argument to defuse the discussion? Is one more positive and supportive than the other? Why/why not?
  • What could the adults have done differently to support Jamie and Charlotte in these scenes?

In these scenes we see Jamie and Charlotte take on the role of the adult and/or parent in their life. Charlotte brings home food and works to support her family and Jamie is caring for their younger brother Max when their mum is working late. Moving into adulthood can be difficult to navigate and taking the time to seek support and voicing your concerns when things feel overwhelming or out of your control can help to manage these pressures.


Task 4 / Competing priorities

Watch

In life we have to juggle competing priorities. We see this in More Than This through the main characters who have to manage challenging home and school lives.  

Whilst Leon’s home life seems to be the most supportive of the main characters. Throughout the show we see Leon negotiating the priorities he has for his schoolwork and Mr E’s class, and his need to impress Legs and go to Sammy’s party. Watch the following scenes where we see Leon experience pressures from Sammy and Legs to skip Mr E’s class.

Reflect

In groups, analyse these scenes working through the following discussion points:

  • What strategies could Leon have used to assess his needs in this situation? 
  • What could Leon, Legs and Sammy do differently in this situation?
Extension Task / Talk it out

Create

Choose two of the characters from More Than This and think about how they would openly discuss the pressures and challenges they experience in their lives. Write a script or create a visual representation or comic that tells the story of this discussion.

As you brainstorm the conversation between these two characters, think about the following questions:

  • How would they support each other? 
  • What advice would they give to one another? 
  • What similarities and common ground would they be able to share?

Share

Share your conversation with the class for feedback.


If any of the content in More Than This or this learning resource raises any issues for you, Kids Helpline’s qualified counsellors are available via WebChat, phone or email anytime and for any reason. 

Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free (even from a mobile), confidential 24/7 online and phone counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. Visit kidshelpline.com.au or call 1800 55 1800.

 

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