The Great Granolo

play by John O'Brien , illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Learning Intention:

I am learning how authors use a range of objective, subjective and biased language so that I can critically analyse the representations of characters in a play.

Success Criteria:

  • I can define objective and subjective language and bias.
  • I can identify examples of objective, subjective and biased language in a text and justify my categorisation.
  • I can use language to compose my own text which uses bias and subjective language.

Essential knowledge:

More information about how language choices impact the representation of a thing, person or idea can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Representation.

Read the play aloud as a class. Alternatively, if you have a digital subscription listen to the recording on The School Magazine’s website.

After reading the play, define the following terms for students, taken from the Australian Curriculum glossary:

  • Objective language: A language that is fact-based, measurable and observable, verifiable and unbiased. It does not include a speaker or writer’s point of view, interpretation or judgement.
  • Subjective language: Use of language which reflects the perspective, opinions, interpretations, points of view, emotions and judgment of the writer or speaker.
  • Bias occurs in text where a composer presents one perspective, favouring one side in an argument or discussion, often accompanied by a refusal to consider merits of alternative points of view.

Summarise that in subjective writing the author presents their own personal judgements and opinions, whereas in objective writing the author is neutral and presents facts and details without judgement. Ask students the following questions:

  • What are some examples of subjective writing? (Persuasive writing, editorial in a newspaper, social media posts, advertisements)
  • What are some examples of objective writing? (News reports, government websites - - for example the Bureau of Meteorology - dictionaries, textbooks)
  • What are some things that you are biased about? (Sporting teams, your city/state, your school, your siblings)

Ask students to apply their knowledge of these terms to ‘The Great Granolo’. First, establish the following points:

  • Are the characters biased or neutral? (All the human characters are biased. The Announcer and Owner are biased towards Granolo and have unrealistic expectations of his potential. Chris wants to believe that Granolo really is great. Robin begins the play biased against Granolo and as events unfold, her biases are confirmed.)
  • Does this play mostly rely on subjective or objective language? (The play mostly uses subjective language. This is used to represent Granolo as supernaturally smart and having human capabilities: ability to read and do mathematical problems.)

Then ask students to reread the play independently. While rereading, they need to identify three examples of subjective language: two that provide a positive representation of Granolo and one that provides a negative representation either of Granolo or the other human characters.

In groups, students then need to justify why they think that this language is subjective. For example:

I think it is subjective when the Announcer states, ‘A fine performance indeed.’ This is because he is making a positive judgement about Granolo’s ability, even though Granolo couldn’t do the task accurately.

Other group members should correct a student if they misidentify a quotation. For example:

I do not think that Robin is using subjective language when she says, ‘But … but he got it wrong.’ In this quotation she is stating a fact. When she says, ‘You fools!’ She is using subjective language as she is making a judgement about the audience.

Finally, to consolidate students’ understanding of subjective and objective language ask students to identify a pet or toy they own that could be a candidate for the class mascot. Ask students to write a paragraph that tries to persuade their peers to vote for it during a class mock-election. While they may include some objective facts and details about their candidate, their speech should mostly reveal their bias through their use of subjective language.

Students could present their pitch to the class and a mock election could be conducted to conclude the activity.