Teaching for Historical Understanding through Role-Play, pp. 9 of 14

B. Response to the research task on political parties

The 2Exp students were visibly engaged while doing research on their respective parties and groups. They also enjoyed listening to their friends giving speeches while they were in their roles as political leaders. They also asked questions when the speakers were unclear in their ideas or presentations.

However, a drawback to this task was that speeches by party leaders like Lee Kuan Yew and David Marshall could easily be found online. Some groups simply copied and read out their speeches verbatim without thinking the contents through. Naturally, they could not answer their classmates when asked about the details and terms used in the speeches.

The handout given also allowed the students from both classes to summarize the aspirations and methods of the different parties. This allowed students to compare them easily for the next activity.

C. Student responses to the elections and role-play strategy

Using the character cards of the ordinary people in Singapore help enhance students’ understanding of the elections. As mentioned previously, many students had overwhelmingly “voted” for the PAP before the activity. The character cards were able to capture the students’ attention and provided enough information for them to discuss and think about the decision from their respective points of view. From the sharing in class, the students appeared better able to explain why different people would support the different parties.

Some examples of what they said included:

  • I am a Chinese businessman who has dealings with the British. I will vote for SPP to protect my business. PAP and Labour Front are both working with trade unions and this is against my interests.
  • I am a Malay food seller and I will vote for the PAP as they promised to fight for merger. This sounds good as joining Malaya will provide more job opportunities for my husband as joining a larger country should be good for business.
  • I am a Eurasian teacher and I will support SPP as they promised to cooperate with the British. As I myself have links with the British, I don’t want my way of life to change and the SPP seem to be the safest party to vote for.
  • I am a bus driver and I will vote for either PAP and Labour Front. I feel that the British are not treating me well and these two parties are both anti-British so I think they will both be able to fight for better working conditions for me.

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

Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with new journal issues!