Walking in the Shoes of a Historical Figure

Students are cast as historical actors and respond to questions or make decisions based on what they had learned in class or in lectures. This activity helps students "walk in the shoes" of an important historical figure.

The instructor gives the students their roles spontaneously. They do not have to prepare for the activity ahead of time. This activity usually generates a lot of discussion because students have to think differently than their contemporary perspectives allow. Some students find themselves making choices they previously thought unthinkable or naïve. The activity requires the instructor to be a firm moderator for the ensuing discussions and to make sure the students do not take the activity too far.

The goal is to get the students to realize that historical agents acted within the context of their time and that while it appears easy to judge them from our perspective, it is not necessarily the most productive way to analyze these situations.

NB: The creator of this activity asked to remain anonymous.