“I am a Roman citizen!”

Two millennia ago, the propensity to boast this Latin phrase was a coveted gem in the entire ancient world – the pride of belonging to arguably the greatest ancient empire in the world.

Fast forward to 2015 A.D., this ancient Roman pride – in war and in relative peace – becomes a crucial learning objective for our Grade 5 students. Through aesthetic crafts and cutting-edge technology, students delve into the psyche of the ancient legionnaire amongst the ranks of the thunderous Roman army and immerse themselves into the vainglorious, excessive civil life of Pax Romana.

On shards of grass the morning dew settles, soon to be replaced by blood from the enemies of the Roman Empire. Over the fields, the enemy sees red. The crimson plumes of the Roman galea (war helmet) paint the horizon as the legionnaires march united and proud onto the battleground, the shimmering gold of their headgear accentuated by the arresting spread of the sunrise glow.

The legionnaires halt.

As their eyes meet their enemies’, there is but one thing on each legionnaire’s mind: Rome has already won.

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Crafting and donning their very own galea, students infer the psyche of the ancient Roman warrior through kinaesthetic mini-activities such as warcries and visual ones such as inferring the significance of symbols and features of the galea, capturing the essence of the legionnaire pride in an experience of senses…

“We can’t bring you to ancient Rome, but we can bring ancient Rome to you!”

Next, students utilised the geospatial technology of Google Earth to transport themselves to the magnificent sites of the Colosseum, Pantheon, Pont du Gard and the Baths of Caracalla, locales that represented the superfluous lifestyles of Romans. Using their inferential skills, students hypothesised the function of these sites and inferred the nature of Roman life from the monuments they left behind: one of excess, extravagance and entertainment.

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The Roman civilisation is not just a source of abstract, ancient fascination, but a current, concrete imprint on modern-day Singapore in tangible ways.

Using Google Earth’s Street View, students hunt for visages of Roman legacies along St. Andrew’s Road in Singapore, proving that even along a single stretch of road in Singapore, the Romans have made their mark!

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Not satisfied with just an exercise in observation and interpretation, it was time to work the wits and words!

Students took sides and argued the question of, “Which Roman legacy influenced modern-day Singapore the most?” – a four-way debate for the Roman-inspired concept most crucial for our city-state: cleanliness, identity, governance, or connectivity.

There was little resolution, obviously. As per many things in life, students learnt that it was all about perspective: the voice with no sound which whispers convincingly to one, of what one is to value.

Furthermore, more than just conceptual understanding, students also learnt a tad more about themselves as they agreed that their choices reflected their personalities, i.e. a student who chose connectivity as the most important concept values and prioritises relationships.

At the end of the day, when the dust settled under the flurry of warcries, monuments and debates, students took pride that they were now part of an empire that stretches far greater and wider than the Roman Empire…

This is the empire of thoughts.

Thinking became our ruler and us its willing, proud subjects.

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