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Role-play Revolution: AI-Enhanced Exploration of Victorian Perspectives on Railways

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Teaching & Inclusive Practices
Key Stage 2
Case Study
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Jon Light

Key Stage 2 Teacher, West Ewell Primary School

This case study explores how leveraging AI technology transformed a classroom exercise on Victorian-era perspectives at West Ewell. Students utilised ChatGPT to embody various roles and gain nuanced insights into the diverse views surrounding the introduction of a train network in their town. This innovative approach deepened their understanding, fostering empathy and critical thinking. The case study delves into the methodology, applications, key learnings, and potential risks of employing AI in education for historical empathy.

At West Ewell, a primary school in England, a creative educational approach using AI was implemented to enhance historical empathy and critical thinking among Key Stage 2 students. The teachers recognised the potential of AI technology to bring historical perspectives to life and engage students in meaningful discussions.

The classroom exercise took inspiration from Victorian-era debates about the introduction of a local train network in the town. Students were assigned various roles, including local homeowners, the town mayor, railway owners, and local children. Each student was tasked with generating questions and concerns based on their character's perspective.

To facilitate this process, teachers inputted their students questions into AI, an AI language model. AI provided responses tailored to each student's assigned role, allowing them to delve deeper into the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of their characters. This AI-facilitated interaction enabled students to explore the diverse viewpoints surrounding the proposed train network.

Through this immersive role-play experience, students gained a newfound understanding and empathy for the different stakeholders involved in the historical debate. They were able to appreciate the complexities of the situation and consider the advantages and disadvantages of the train network from multiple angles.

The AI technology empowered students to engage in critical thinking, as they analysed the potential impacts of the railway on their characters' lives and the town as a whole. The exercise aligned with the educational goal of fostering historical empathy and encouraging students to consider differing opinions.

As the activity progressed, students shared their AI-generated insights with their classmates, leading to dynamic discussions and collaborative learning. The classroom buzzed with excitement as students debated the merits and drawbacks of the train network, drawing upon the diverse perspectives they had explored through AI.

The integration of AI technology in this Victorian-era education project not only deepened students' understanding of historical perspectives but also enhanced their critical thinking and communication skills. The approach created a highly engaging and interactive learning environment that captivated students' attention and fostered a genuine interest in the subject matter.

The scenario in this case study is genuine and based upon real events and data, however its narration has been crafted by AI to uphold a standardised and clear format for readers.

Key Learning

AI-facilitated role-play enhances historical empathy by enabling students to embody diverse perspectives.

AI encourages critical thinking as students analyse the implications of historical events from multiple angles.

AI integration fosters collaborative learning through dynamic discussions and sharing of insights.


Overreliance on AI may diminish the importance of traditional research methods in historical exploration.

Potential bias in AI responses could influence students' perceptions of historical events.

Educators must provide guidance in interpreting AI-generated content and emphasise its supplementary nature.