The Notables: Making Significant Historical Personalities Come Alive, pp. 5 of 8

Making Connections to Singapore Social Studies Curriculum

The Notables project also supports important curricular goals highlighted in the primary Singapore social studies syllabus. In the Primary 4 and Primary 5 Social Studies curriculum, the Notables project could be a motivating way for students to learn in depth about significant people in Singapore’s history. In the Primary 4 curriculum, students are expected to study early migrants, people who help found and settle Singapore, important entrepreneurs and business people, and people who contributed to Singapore’s heritage and culture. In the Primary 5 curriculum, students study people who were important leaders in building the nation of Singapore, people who helped Singapore develop economically, important war heroes, and those who contributed to Singapore’s heritage and culture to build a Singaporean identity.

To identify notable figures in the Primary 4 and 5 syllabuses, teachers can use the diagrams in Figure 3. These diagrams can be used to help plan the range of significant figures included in the curriculum, as well as those who are not. As Segall (2012) noted in the previous issue of HSSE Online, it is also important to ask who is absent or missing from the history textbooks. Often women and minorities are relegated to the sidelines so it will be important to consider the contributions and impact of individuals or groups of people that are not included in the textbooks. These diagrams can also be used as note-taking forms for students. They can start with their textbooks and also interview parents and other people to see what other names might be notable.

Planning,  Locating, and Gathering Information of Notable Figures

After selecting a Notable figure the next step is to help students make a plan for gathering information about their person. This is an important part of the process as it sets a purpose when reading and gathering information, and can provide a framework for the overall final written product. To help my students develop a research plan to guide their work, I present the analogy that their research plan is like a roadmap that helps them reach their destination without getting lost or sidetracked.

One way to guide students research efforts is to use Seixas’s criteria to form guiding questions:

  • What deep and important contribution or change has this person made?
  • In what ways has this person affected a large number of people?
  • In what ways has this person had an effect over a long period of time?
  • How does this person’s life help us understand the past or present?
  • How has this person’s life shed light on issues or problems that concerns us?

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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