Teaching for Historical Understanding through Role-Play, pp. 7 of 14

c. Elections and the responses from the people of Singapore

Now that students have developed an understanding of the aspiration of the various parties, their next task was to determine (a) who would be able to win the support of the people in Singapore in the elections and (b) why they were able to do so. However, a general poll that was conducted at the end of the 2Exp presentations showed that the students were predisposed to simply voted for the parties they researched on out of “loyalty” to their group. Even when prompted to not vote based on their groups, students overwhelmingly chose the PAP. When asked why they chose the PAP, their answers ran along the lines of “They confirm win one, what!” or “The PAP want independence, so must vote for them right?” It was presentism at work here, and this use of hindsight and present knowledge had prompted students to make flawed but seemingly obvious conclusion. Something was needed to move them out of that frame of mind and to think more critically about why the parties would appeal to different groups of people.

Here, the second set of cards comprising the “ordinary” people of Singapore came into play. After going through a recap on the aspirations of the different parties, students were given the cards and asked to decide which party their character(s) would vote for in the 1955 elections. They also had to explain their choices in the handout given and to subsequently present their views to the rest of the class.

Groups in the 2Exp class each received a set of six character cards. Each student picked a card and shared his or her opinion about the character to the group so that they could complete the handout. For the 2N(A) class, each group received one character card. They discussed and made a decision on which party their character would likely vote for and later shared about their character’s decision to the rest of the class.

Students’ responses and evaluation of the lesson package

As a whole, students responded well to the new lesson package and were better engaged compared to previous years.

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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