Teaching for Historical Understanding through Role-Play, pp. 4 of 14

Big Question: What aspirations did people have for Singapore from 1945 – 1959?

Introduction to content concepts: Communism, democracy, constitution etc.

Getting to know the parties and people in post-war Singapore



Chinese Middle School Students

Trade Unions

Other “ordinary” people

Guiding questions:

Who are they?

What did they want for Singapore?

How are they going to achieve their goals?

Historical Concept: Diversity

People had different aspirations based on their background and their experiences

Events and their Consequences


1948, 1955, 1959 Elections

Anti-NS Riots

Hock Lee Bus Riots

Chinese Middle School Riots

Guiding questions:

What happened?

What role did the characters play in these events?

How did the events affect them?

Historical Concept: Change and Continuity

People’s aspirations can change over time

In coming up with lesson materials and character cards, two sets of cards created by other members of the NLC were used as reference. The character cards were created to be as historically authentic as possible, meaning, they consisted of people who actually existed during that period and that there was some tangible historical basis that supported the background information provided.

One set of cards focused on the political party leaders and the “activists” (i.e. the Chinese Middle School students and trade unionists). The other set of cards featured the “ordinary” people in Singapore, namely, a bus driver, a hawker, a teacher and a businessman alongside a Chinese student and trade unionist. Both sets of cards were adapted to fit the profile of students and could be used in different ways for different learning outcomes.

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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